Fix: Cannot Open Volume for Direct Access

CHKDSK is a system tool present in Windows which verifies the integrity of a volume and tries to fix logical system errors. It also identifies bad sectors present on the hard drive and marks them so there will be no error when the computer uses the drive.

Cannot open volume for direct access

Sometimes when using the CHKDSK command, users come across the error “Cannot open volume for direct access”. This error signifies that the application cannot access the drive to scan and perform its operations there. There are many different workarounds and checks make this problem go away. Start with the first solution and work your way down accordingly.

Solution 1: Exclude Drive From CHKDSK

If your computer has recently experienced a BSOD, your system might set a bit on your drive that it is faulty and will always try to run CHKDSK on it before booting your computer. If that drive is C, you will be unable to boot your computer or have similar problems. Or if another drive is corrupted similarly, you can use the solution from within the computer to exclude it from CHKDSK. After excluding the drive, we will include it again. This will practically get rid of the dirty bit and make CHKDSK scan the drive normally.

Do note if you have a physically damaged drive, this solution won’t work as expected. There is no alternative to fixing a physically damaged drive.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “command prompt” in the dialogue box, right-click on it and select “Run as administrator”. If you are having this problem in local drive C, consider booting into command prompt using recovery options and perform this solution from there.
    Open Command Prompt as Administrator
  2. Type the following command followed by the drive name and press Enter.
chkntfs /X D:

Here drive ‘D’ is being excluded from CHKDSK. You can replace the letter with the one giving you the problem.

Run chkntfs /X D Command

Do note that this command is not cumulative. Also, this command’s primary objective is to exclude the volumes from being checked for a dirty bit.

  1. Now we will include the drive again to CHKDSK and see if the scan can run successfully. Keep using the same command prompt and execute the following command:
chkdsk /f D:
Run chkdsk /f D Command

This command will force CHKDSK to run. If the volume is in use by another application, you might get a prompt that the volume is in use. You can press Y or execute the command upon restart. This error will only occur if you follow this solution from within Windows. If you are using the command prompt from recovery options, this will not occur.

Solution 2: Check Third-Party Applications

This error may also come forward if you have any third-party drive monitoring software enabled on your computer. These applications are already accessing your hard drive which makes CHKDSK unable to perform its operations normally.

Disable all these software either manually or uninstall them completely from your computer. Press Windows + R, type “appwiz.cpl” in the dialogue box and press Enter. All the applications will be listed. Uninstall the ones which monitor or ‘fix’ your hard drive. Restart your computer and see if the problem goes away.

Uninstall Programs

Solution 3: Clean Boot Windows or Use Safe Mode

You can use the built-in Safe Mode in Windows to boot the system with no third-party applications running and Windows running with very limited drivers. You can also use the clean boot feature to boot with the minimum set of services and drivers. This way, you will rule out if any of the drivers/services are creating issues and causing the error message.

  1. Clean Boot Windows or use the Safe Mode.
    Safe Mode
  2. Now run Chkdsk command to check if it is functioning normally. If it is, it probably means there is some conflict with either third-party applications or with system drivers. You can try to turn each service on in batches and determine which one was causing the problem. You can use the application manager (Press Windows + R, type “appwiz.cpl” in the dialogue box and press Enter) to uninstall the third-party application causing the problem.

Solution 4: Use Bootable Media

If nothing has helped you so far, then creating a bootable media and running chkdsk through that media may solve the problem. It is likely that the very SFC mechanism in your computer is not operating as expected and causes the error message even when you try to run it. Make sure that you don’t interrupt and let the SFC scan complete through the bootable media.

  1. Create a Windows Bootable media and boot through that media.
    Create Window 10 Installation Media
  2. Now run the chkdsk command to see if it is functioning normally.

Solution 5: Check Your Hard drive

If all the above solutions don’t work, consider having your hard drive checked. In many cases, CHKDSK cannot attempt to scan your computer if the hard drive is physically damaged and there is some physical problem inside.

Check Hard Disk

You can try inserting the drive to another computer and see if it works there. Also, try removing the drive from your computer, changing the SATA cable and port and try accessing it again. This problem also occurs if you have a faulty cable or the port is broken. If all these tips don’t work, you should consider getting it checked by a verified technician.

Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

Expert Tip

Fix: Cannot Open Volume for Direct Access

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