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Author Topic: How to Run System File Checker (sfc /scannow) without a Windows XP disc  (Read 42693 times)


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How to Run System File Checker (sfc /scannow) without a Windows XP disc.

What's it for and what does it do?

The main reason for using this utility is when you suspect there may be a problem with a Windows XP system file.
Perhaps a dialogue box appears informing you of a problem with a .dll file, or a program will just not load!
It is therefore worth checking to see if there are any corrupt system files using sfc /scannow.
To do this simply go to the Run box on the Start Menu and type in: sfc /scannow

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

First you will have to set the folders to show System files by going to:-

"My Computer > Tools > Folder Options > View > "uncheck" Hide protected operating system files"
(Just revers this back to the default setting when you have finished)

Now check to see if the folder already exists on your HDD, if it's there.
Make sure you have the correct i386 folder.
(The correct one will contain close to 7,000 files (475MB), two of which will be winnt.exe and winnt32.exe).
If it's there and faulty, start at step 1
If it's there and the correct one, then go straight to step 2.

Step 1.
If the folder does not exist then you can make one:
You will need to get your XP CD and locate the folder called i386 (I386)
This is a major folder and should be one of the first you see, now copy this onto your hard drive into the system root.
For most of you that is going to be C:\  so you should end up with a folder that looks like:  C:\I386

Step 2.
NOTE: Carrying out this operation may entail altering the registry, so you should "Back it up" first.
From the Start Menu select "Run..." type "regedit" (without the " " quotes)

Now you will need to tell your computer you now have the files on your PC.
We do this is the registry by navigating to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Setup

You will now see various entries here on the right hand side.
The one we want is called: "SourcePath"

It probably has an entry pointing to your CD-ROM drive, and that is why it's asking for the XP CD.
All we need to do is change it to: C:\

Simply double click the SourcePath setting and a new box will pop up allowing you to make the change.

Now restart your computer and try "sfc /scannow" again!

A more comprehensive and detailed explanation can be found here:
« Last Edit: October 03, 2008, 01:21:21 AM by oldfogy »


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Nothing like replying to a topic 12 years later. The user interface warned me as I started making my reply:

Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 120 days.

At least 120 days indeed!

I created an account because I'm working on Windows XP and this post was helpful and I have some more information.

Not only do you need to modify the "SourcePath" value in the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup

but maybe also the "ServicePackSourcePath" as well.

You suggest changing it (SourcePath) to C:\ and I just did this and had to change both "SourcePath" and "ServicePackSourcePath" to C:\ to prevent it asking me for the installation disc.

Also, this trick will work IF you have a c:\i386 directory on your hard drive, and IF those files are not corrupted.

If not, and if you have a cd/dvd installation disk, and have a way to open it, it will have an I386 dir on it. You could copy that to your hard drive, creating or replacing the c:\i386 folder. And then the registry hack described here will be helpful for you.


EDIT: Oh, one more thing. The link to is gone.  You can find it on the wayback machine here:
« Last Edit: April 11, 2020, 05:44:50 PM by MontgomeryMinds »


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Re: How to Run System File Checker (sfc /scannow) without a Windows XP disc
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2020, 07:47:34 PM »


Hey 'Monty'!

I joined this forum just to thank you. :)

Your advice saved me - I was about to do a 'repair install' (though I was going to try one more thing: changing the cd drive letter..looking at the reg finally revealed to me what it was when I installed windows).

But it finally accessed the i386 folder I'd copied from my CD onto C
(Yep, still using XP and refuse to change! Funny that your post was only a few weeks back!)


The key point was to go to this folder in regedit:


And change

to C:\

as well, as you said


Others should note that the original page also recommended changing the following key to C:\ as well if all else failed - which I did:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SourcePath

Interestingly, there is even a small utility to save you the trouble of opening the reg to change the first two regedits mentioned in this thread, called Setup Sources

Here's the original page I found it:

Here's the direct link:

(I can't GUARANTEE it works because I was doing other things wrong when I tried it. But of course its a fairly simple thing its trying to do)