4 Windows Command Line Tools That Every Windows User Should Know

Thr Windows command line may not be the best choice to work with due to its unpleasant user interface, but there are certain useful features that don’t come with a user interface and can only be accessed via the command line. In this article, let us share with you a couple of command line tools that you can use to troubleshoot your Windows PC.

The Windows System File Checker feature in Windows is used to check the integrity of the system files and registry. When you have a corrupted system or registry, you can make use of the System File Checker feature to scan and restore system files (or registry keys) from a cached version of original Windows files.

To run this tool, open up the Windows command prompt as an administrator and execute the command below.

Getting to know all the device drivers installed in your Windows PC is really important to resolve any issue arising from driver updates and/or other driver-related problems. Most people will use third-party tools to find out information about their device drivers. However, unknown to many, Windows has a built-in command line tool that can list all the driver details. To run Driverquery, open up your Windows command prompt as administrator and execute the below command.

windows-command-line-tools-driverquery

By default, the details are listed in a table format. If you wish to change the display format (list and csv), you can use the parameter /fo. For example,

Moreover, you can also export the display details to a file. To save the information to a file, use the command below:

You can get more details from this Microsoft Knowledge Base.

When it comes to hard drive related issues, you can use the built-in tool called Check Disk (chkdsk) to help you recover information from bad sectors and damaged file systems. To run Check Disk, open up the command prompt as administrator and execute the command below.

Note: The paramteter /R tells the tool to delve deep and forces Check Disk to find any bad sectors, this is an exhaustive search and takes more time. If you don’t want a deep scan, you can remove the parameter.

IPConfig is one of the commonly used commands in Windows (and Linux) and is used to get information regarding all the TCP/IP connections, network adapters information and a computer’s IP address. Moreover, you can use IPConfig command to purge the DNS cache and release or renew the IP addresses. To run IPConfig command, open up your Windows command prompt and execute the following command.

windows-command-line-tools-ipconfig

You can also use different parameters like /all, /flushdns and /release to get information on all the network adapters, purge the DNS cache and to release an IP address respectively.

To display the full TCP/IP configuration for all adapters:

To flush and reset the contents of the DNS client resolver cache:

To release the current DHCP configuration and discard the IP address configuration for all adapters:

That’s all for this session, and hopefully that helps you in your daily activities. Do share your favorite Windows command line tools using the comments form below.

18 comments

  1. sfc,chkdsk and ipconfig are essential. driverquery? pretty obscure… I think ping would be used more often.

  2. I tried the sfc/scannow, but I am running the XP Home SP2 edition, and it is asking me for the Pro version disk. Any ideas?

    • You were running SP2. You probably installed the update to your OS (SP3) in any case an update upgraded your core windows. It happend to me in Windows 7 Pro SP1, the core was upgraded to SP2 then SP3 and attempting this command returned wrong version. Windows 7 Ultimate is required to perform this command. There is not much than can be done.

  3. Thanks for the useful reminders, take us back to the days when we were now learning computers, there were no GUI or Windows environment, and every thing had to be done from the command prompt :)

  4. @Logan:
    Did you enter a space after sfc? If not, you may want to try again. The space before “/” is required.
    Out of curiosity, why not installing SP3 for XP, which fixes tons of issues?

  5. tracert is also very useful. It gives the route a packet takes to get to its destination and shows any delays along the way.

  6. I use this one a lot to find out who’s logged into a particular pc:

    wmic /node: 192.168.xxx.xxx computersystem get username

  7. Another useful command is msinfo32. Gives valuable information about your computer system which is useful when you don’t want to open up your system case to look for the model of your motherboard for example.

  8. Ever wonder what hotfixes were installed on the system since it was installed – SYSTEMINFO in cmd will give you that, plus a lot of other useful information

    • If you want a list of just installed updates try:

      wmic qfe list

      and to output to a text file use a pipe:

      wmic qfe list > c:\updates.txt

  9. Personally, my most used command is:

    taskkill

    Similar to kill on Linux. I don’t bother with task manager when I have an irritating program that wont close. Just run:

    taskkill /F /IM:filename.exe

    And boom, closed. The F argument is to force close the app.

  10. OMG, old timer computer geeks! LOVE it! While, I am by far, NOT as knowledgeable, most of the previous commentors, I do know that the Command Line can be an extremely useful tool or extremely deadly.

    What is most important to using the Command Line … Is to remember, that there should only be letters or spaces or characters totaling to no more than 8, within the command itself. This is old DOS, which is the basis for any solid Windows program. Yep … DOS is still at work, even on Windows 7 Pro 64 Bit! Not sure, if, DOS is in Windows 8 or 8.1 and of course, the “new puppy” on the block … Windows 10! I rather think, that DOS is somewhere in there, still.

  11. Does anyone know whether the command “wmic /node: 192.168.xxx.xxx computersystem get username” works on Windows 10?

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