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SOLVED: SFC says “There is a system repair pending…”

Update 7 December 2015

This technique still works in Windows 8.1. I needed to use both DISM as described below and then delete the \Windows\winsxs\pending.xml  file as described in the first comment below by Icon Era – David. After that, I was able to run the SFC command and do a repair. This machine was getting stuck at 9% sitting on the Asus POST screen saying “Updating System”. Once it gets to 9% it will sit there for a while then reboot. My theory is that it’s a bad Windows Update and this is my last option for fixing it it as there are no restore points (thanks to the fools who designed Windows 8 turning that off by default) and no other repairs have succeeded. Honestly, I have my doubts about whether this will fix my problem, my experience with Windows 8 and Windows 10 non-booting problems is that you almost always have to reinstall.

Update 18 March 2016

I have yet to have success in Windows 10 with this technique. Alas, I have found fairly consistently if you are having to work “under the covers” of Windows 10, you’re in trouble and are going to eventually have to re-install. If anyone has luck fixing Windows 10 using all or part of this technique, please come back and write a comment and tells us how it went.

Original Entry

Frequently when I’ve removed a virus, I want or need to run the SFC /scannow repair program. Quite often it seems, in Windows 7 and Vista, the command can’t run an returns an error message of:

“There is a system repair pending which requires reboot to complete. Restart Windows and run sfc again.”

Try as one might and regardless of whether you can boot into Safe Mode or are using the Recovery Console, this error just won’t go away. However, I have found a command finally that overcomes this problem. On a machine that I was working on today, from the Recovery Console command prompt I entered:

dism.exe /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions

After that, I rebooted the machine into Safe Mode (this particular computer would boot to Safe Mode but is BSODing when booted to normal mode). In Safe Mode, I opened an elevated command prompted and issued the SFC /scannow command and it now runs.

If you need computer repair in Lexington, contact Hartland Computer Repair on 859.536 4107.

  1. November 29th, 2012 at 09:15 | #1

    The dism.exe command complained the filepath for the image was wrong.

    Found this solution that worked:
    Boot into the recovery console’s Command window.
    Navigate to C:\windows\winsxs and delete the file C:\windows\winsxs\pending.xml
    Still in the command window, try to run SFC /scannow again
    Reboot with lucky rabbit’s foot handy.

  2. December 6th, 2012 at 16:18 | #2

    This info has helped me in the past. Tonight I was stuck when it didn’t work. After 2 hours of trial and error and many sites later, I came across the following info. It worked. Wanted to share it here to provide an additional possible solution for the people finding your site.

    Einstein stated the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. He obviously never worked on a PC. 🙂

    Next, we will perform a sfc /scannow using the offline settings for the boot directory and windows directory. If you use the incorrect options, two errors are common,

    “Windows Resource Protection could not start the Repair service.”

    “There is a system repair pending which requires reboot to complete. Restart Windows and run sfc again.”

    The first error indicates an invalid boot or system partition path. The second indicates that incorrect arguments wre given, or there is a file that needs to be removed or renamed in the \Windows\winsxs\pending.xml path. For this installation, this is D:\Windows\winsxs\pending.xml.

    For this particular system, this is the correct command to run based on the output of diskpart above

    sfc /SCANNOW /OFFBOOTDIR=c:\ /OFFWINDIR=d:\Windows

    • December 6th, 2012 at 16:49 | #3

      Thanks for your input on this. This seems like a weird special case though isn’t it? I’m trying to understand how the Windows directory is on a D: drive but the boot directory is on C:. Where is the target broken Windows folder then, on D:? And what is on C: in this case?

  3. j4gg3d
    December 19th, 2012 at 19:05 | #4

    I’m in love with both of you. Countless useless and frustrating, unhelpful blogs out there, and I come upon these two little gems of info.

    Thank you both.
    BTW client’s laptop in this case (Dell latitude E5510) came preinstalled with boot C: and OS D:, no idea why they (dell) shipped it out like that.

    • December 19th, 2012 at 19:45 | #5

      I was trying to fix a problem the other day with a machine that would not take SP1 on a brand new installation of Windows 7. Searching for an answer, I went to an item on an otherwise pretty good Windows 7 forum, that was titled, “Solved: Can’t install SP1 on Windows 7”. The “solution” was to reinstall Windows 7. I try to keep this blog fairly technical so as to attract smart people (like yourself 🙂 with smart solutions.

  4. Smile
    February 26th, 2013 at 05:06 | #6

    Thank you very much! You saved my day!

  5. alan
    April 17th, 2013 at 13:53 | #7

    Thanks great and helpful info!!!!

  6. Royale
    April 30th, 2013 at 18:45 | #8

    Long hours of looking around and attempting fixes, thanks a lot for the information.

    the revert changes worked for me. ran this at recovery command console:

    dism.exe /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions

    followed by this:

    sfc /SCANNOW /OFFBOOTDIR=c:\ /OFFWINDIR=d:\Windows

  7. Samir
    June 16th, 2013 at 16:47 | #9

    Does this have anything to do with C:\windows\winsxs\cleanup.xml? And do you have a solution for Windows Vista? Because dism.exe (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) is not available in Windows Vista.

  8. Greg
    July 24th, 2013 at 20:25 | #10

    I have a vista computer here and in recovery console i do not have dism.exe

  9. Sarj09
    August 8th, 2013 at 10:54 | #11

    Thanks you guys saved my life with a clients computer that I could not get too boot. Followed your instructions to the letter and you got me out of a sticky spot. You answered my prayers.
    Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

    • August 8th, 2013 at 10:57 | #12

      …and we do love being the answer to prayers. I’m glad this helped.

  10. Marvine
    October 13th, 2013 at 18:27 | #13

    When I type dism.exe /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions at the command prompt in windows recovery console, I get

    “Deployment Image Servicing and Management Tool
    Version 6.1.7600.16385

    Error: 2

    Unable to access the image.
    Make sure that the image path and the Windows directory for the image exist and you have Read permissions on the folder.
    The DISM log file can be found at X:\windows\Logs\DISM\dism.log”

    I am on the administrator account, it has no password. I should have read permissions on everything as the only account on the machine. I also tried just rebooting into Safe Mode after getting that error and re-running sfc /scannow but no go. Any ideas?

  11. October 15th, 2013 at 05:12 | #14

    it doesnt work

    it goes like this

    unable to acces the image

    please help

  12. dan360
    November 14th, 2013 at 02:39 | #15

    Hi, i’m a noobie & i tried dism.exe fix above but get, ‘ dism.exe is not recognised as an internal or external co.mand, operable program or batch file. I’m using Vista Business (x86) under command as admi istrator using system rescue disc. Please can anyone help? Dan

    • November 14th, 2013 at 09:56 | #16

      This may not work on Vista. I think I’ve tried it and got the same result as you. You could try searching for dism.exe on the boot drive and/or CD or you could try using a Windows 7 disc to boot from but I have my doubts about whether that would work.

  13. April 3rd, 2014 at 20:10 | #17

    This did not work for me, error message says it cannot find the image file. Any other suggestions?

  14. jackie1
    April 29th, 2014 at 19:53 | #18

    Same thing as above poster…. error message says it cannot find the image file. Any other suggestions?

  15. Mel
    June 21st, 2014 at 10:38 | #20

    We tried this command but c is not recognised
    Could you some help me please?

    • June 21st, 2014 at 11:24 | #21

      What do you mean by “c is not recognised”? Are you getting an error that C: is not recognised or did you mean to say that DISM.EXE is not recognised? Where are you running the command from, the recovery environment or from Windows? If it’s the recovery environment your Windows installation may be on D: not C:

  16. June 28th, 2014 at 07:58 | #22

    Many, many thanks for a superbly helpful piece on resolving the problem that it addresses.

    The particular problem I was having is that any command that I called that had to be run outside of Windows such as chkdsk c: /f would cause Windows to hang during boot. After being hung for a period of time, the computer would reboot and correctly load Win7 but would not run chkdsk c: /f.

    When chkdsk wouldn’t run, I booted from a DaRT CD and tried to run sfc /scannow. At this point, I encountered the error: “There is a system repair pending which requires reboot to complete. Restart Windows and run sfc again.”

    A search on the error string, turned up your blog and the solution posted here.

    I ran the dism.exe /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions command from within DaRT. After I rebooted into into normal (or “protected” – for you old timers) mode I could then call chkdsk c: /f, rebooted. At that point the computer did not hang as previously dribed and that command ran as it should.

    Just one note for the sake of clarification: In reading your blog, it was not clear whether there should have been a space in the syntax of the command between /image:c:\ and the switch. But that is a small point and I’m not sure how you could make that more clear within the limits of the font and the font spacing.

  17. roger
    August 16th, 2014 at 04:26 | #23

    seems like sfc must be run from console & then safe mode. (cmd)

    on win7

  18. roger
    August 16th, 2014 at 04:28 | #24

    “There is a system repair pending which requires reboot to complete. Restart Windows and run sfc again.”

    run it again in safe mode

  19. d_logan
    August 18th, 2014 at 12:08 | #25

    SFC doesn’t find any integrity violations for me.

  20. djcstl
    August 29th, 2014 at 08:50 | #26

    I found this blog last night. It saved me YEARS of data! After clearing a virus infection, I encountered 15+ instances of dllhost.exe running resulting in 100% CPU usage. I ran sfc.exe. It found the error and corrected it, but when I rebooted (Windows 7), I got the BLACK screen of death after the starting windows graphics completed. Couldn’t run in safe mode either. I found the sfc.exe solution with the offboot directory commands in another blog. Using my Windows 7 disc, I used the Recovery Console.

    I had the same result as two of you: the pending repair error message, then dism.exe couldn’t find the image. I ran both of these executables multiple times after rebooting. After the second run if dism.exe, I rebooted the system and Windows started!

    In my case, the system said the executables didn’t work, but they did. All I can say is keep trying…and THANK YOU you wonderful techies! I’ve got a BS in MIS and loads of amateur experience, but I rely heavily on finding the best and most useful information in forums like this.

    I’m backing up my system and making a system image today…and saving them both on a DVD. I’ll update them every couple of weeks from now on!

    • August 29th, 2014 at 09:16 | #27

      Hey, good for you. Wee like to hear success stories!

  21. ejgolfer11
    September 3rd, 2014 at 14:11 | #28

    this worked for me
    sfc /SCANNOW /OFFBOOTDIR=c:\ /OFFWINDIR=c:\Windows.
    After fighting “There is a system repair pending which requires reboot to complete. Restart Windows and run sfc again.” message. And trying to remove reboot.xml, that didn’t help at all. And removing pending.xml also didn’t help. Tried the dism.exe /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions but had no image message pop up.
    After sfc completed many failed to repair in CBS log. Looks like a re-install OS is the only solution

  22. September 11th, 2014 at 01:50 | #29

    THanks , THanks, Thanks

    you solved my blue-screen problem in my windows 8.1 64 bit.
    when updating windows security updates, after then while restarting to install update, it got failed in mid. then windows inbuilt automatic repair and all troubleshooting doesn’t work.. every time the window starts blue screen occres and shows this error- [ Critical_process_died]. after trying your solution.. by changin from C to F: drive, then it works like a charm.. all my pending updates get reverted on next startup..

    Many many thanks again Bro.

  23. Mackenzie
    October 10th, 2014 at 15:40 | #30

    I have the same problem concerning user Paul and jackie1. I have a windows 7 32bit (I personally don’t know much about computers). I believe I might have accidentally deleted some important files on my computer. I really don’t know what else to do. Plus my computer has some important files and that I cannot replace.

    • October 10th, 2014 at 16:28 | #31

      Well, if you’ve got to the point of this article you are pretty far down the road for a neophyte. If the files you are worried about are user data files, like documents, videos, pictures, etc. I wouldn’t be too worried about that, they should still be retrievable unless you trigger a re-install of Windows – don’t do that. But if Windows isn’t starting and you can’t repair it and you can run SFC (which, by the way seldom solves non-booting problems anyway), you should probably find a reputable repair shop locally and ask them to get your important files off the hard drive. At Hartland Computer and Campus Computer Repair here, we charge $79 to do something like that. It would cost about $10 more to have us save the files and re-install Windows.

  24. Rodrigo
    October 15th, 2014 at 17:39 | #32

    I’m on a situation not described here. Windows tells me my password is incorrect. I already ran chkdsk, sfc, and other tools found with DaRT8 … including locksmith. its absurd – i just changed the password of the local account to 123456 and reboot, only to get an invalid password message again.

    This situation managed to frustrate me a lot. Any ideas?

  25. January 25th, 2015 at 23:08 | #34

    Thank you guys! This information saved my pc

  26. Christopher
    February 12th, 2015 at 06:47 | #35

    This really helped me on my way. I am running sfc off the recovery disk now and I get the error: “Windows Resource protection found damaged files, but it could not repair some of them” (Loosely translated, not being able to set language for the recovery disk can be a hassle). Here is a pastebin with the log http://pastebin.com/gLqnJh0H It is beyond me to understand this. I also tried the dism.exe /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions this returns the message, “Can’t access the image”. I know that my recovery disk doesn’t have a windows image on it so that is probably the reason. The operating system I am trying to recover is windows 7.

    • February 12th, 2015 at 09:25 | #36

      I think you’ve done all you can with SFC. I would say that 9 times out of 10 I get that same response from SFC. When this happens, you cross your fingers that SFC was able to repair the important stuff and the stuff that it could not repair was unimportant. There is a text version of the CBS log that you can look through to try and figure out what SFC had a problem with. I suppose, in theory, you might be able to fix some of it manually but I find the CBS log pretty opaque and have stopped trying to sort it at that point. Generally, from where you are at I try a System Restore (sometimes a manual one using the /config/regback folder if the System Restore program can’t find any restore points (about 50% of the time).

  27. Christopher
    February 13th, 2015 at 06:44 | #37

    Thanks a lot for the help, I at least got the system running seemingly stable by now. Hopefully it will be enough, I really dislike having to reinstall if I can avoid it.

  28. Julia
    February 18th, 2015 at 09:35 | #38

    Help windows 8.1. Bsod can’t get into safe mode. On command prompt it says

  29. Jennifer
    March 12th, 2015 at 00:01 | #39

    @Icon Era – David
    Thank you-excellent troubleshooting help!!!

  30. esteban
    March 19th, 2015 at 21:22 | #41

    You are a genius!

    • March 20th, 2015 at 08:12 | #42

      That’s what my mum keeps trying to tell me as well.

  31. Tobias
    April 18th, 2015 at 18:48 | #43

    My computer refuses to start normally, it show the windows screen and then freezes. When i restart it i launch the startup repair. From there i have tried everything, but nothing helpes, windows can’t even detect the problem. I’ve tried to use the SFC and the dism.exe, but it keeps tellibg me that there is a pendig update, even after I’ve restarted in safe mode and all. I just want to know if there’s any hope. ( I have an Asus laptop running on windows 7) My computer has warned me several times abou the .dll files (some autofix program said they couldn’t be autofixed), but i had no idea that it woild come to this. (The .dll files were the only problems detected by startup repair, but it says that they arr fixed. Please help, I’m

  32. April 22nd, 2015 at 12:59 | #45


    Thanks for this tip, admin. I’ve now finally got sfc running in safe mode command prompt on Win8.1. This is a fresh install of the OS, and it’s strange to have corrupt files. The HD does not have any bad sectors, or anything like that. The only noticeable problem is that Windows Defender won’t run, even if the service is turned on manually. Any further thoughts would be appreciated. I’ve found the level of information on this site far superior to any I’ve found on problem resolution sites, including those run by MS itself. Great job!


    • April 22nd, 2015 at 13:19 | #46

      I’m afraid I don’t have much for you on Windows 8.1, it just a nightmare OS that is often impossible to fix. Windows Defender won’t work sometimes if you’ve cloned the hard drive to a new HDD or if a virus has messed with it. Neither of those would be the case on a fresh install and you certainly should not be having to run SFC on a new installation. Why not use Windows 8’s built-in Refresh or re-installer thing (what’s it called, Restore or Re-install? I can’t remember). I would think you would be better off with a do-over on a new install than messing around with SFC – which is a hit-or-miss tool.

  33. April 22nd, 2015 at 15:05 | #47

    @Carl J. Denbow

    This is the tip I was referring to: sfc /SCANNOW /OFFBOOTDIR=c:\ /OFFWINDIR=c:\Windows

  34. April 22nd, 2015 at 15:14 | #48

    admin, I guess I might do that, except it would uninstall several “non-modern” pieces of software I just installed after the clean install. I would then need to repeat several hours of installation work. That refresh routine leaves everything in places except non-modern UI software (err . . apps). One person on another board, responding to a person with a similar problem recommended uninstalling Windows Defender and then reinstalling it. Sound like a possible solution?

  35. April 22nd, 2015 at 15:24 | #49

    Upon further reflection, that’s a stupid idea. You can’t really uninstall WD, like a regular program. It’s integrated with a service. Perhaps the simple solution is to just disable it and run another anti-virus. It appears to be the only thing that’s not working with this fresh install. Do you see any problems with that approach? BTW, a MalWareBytes scan detected no infected objects. This was a deep scan. I’m, of course, not running MalWareBytes Pro, just the on command scanner.

  36. April 22nd, 2015 at 17:31 | #51

    I’ve installed Bitdefender. All warning messages about Windows Defender not starting are gone. I may try tweaking.com just to check things out further. What do you think? (Yes, no problem getting into Safe Mode.)

  37. aleshia
    August 28th, 2015 at 02:51 | #52

    i am a novice when it comes to computers. I have been receiving the message “there is a system repair pending which requires reboot to complete. restart windows and run sfc again.” and when i try the original posters dism.exe command it says “the command line is missing a required servicing command” what am I doing wrong? i also tried the second sfc/scannow command recommended and it just gave me a list of sfc commands… any help with this issue would be greatly appreciated! also i recently updated to windows 10 which originally corrected almost all the issues i had with my windows 8.1 except for this one.

  38. September 2nd, 2015 at 21:59 | #53

    been battling KB3081448 update for windows 10. crashes till dism revert. appreciate the tip

  39. Samar
    November 16th, 2015 at 20:01 | #54

    Hey…I keep getting the system repair pending message everytime I try scannow

    I tried the dism.exe /Image:c: \/cleanup-image /recertpendingactions

    And i got error 2
    Unable to access the image
    Make sure that the image path and Windows directory for the image exist and you have read permissions on the folder

    Btw it is running as X:\windows\system32>

    I am running Windows 10
    Please help

    • November 17th, 2015 at 09:36 | #55

      I’m afraid I can’t give you much help other than to advise you to re-install Windows. This problem is a pretty hard one to fix under Windows 7 and I have found Windows 10 to be much much more resistant to repair. Most technical fixes under Windows 10 fail, save your sanity while you still can.

  40. Ross
    November 22nd, 2015 at 06:17 | #56

    I am trying to recover a Dell all-in-one that hangs before ctrl-alt-del with spinning circle, can move mouse but nothing else. Happens in normal and safe-mode on this PC. I have backed up files but would like to recover PC as it’s domain joined with custom apps etc.

    From windows 7 pro recovery disk I am getting an error when trying to run system restore to a point a few weeks ago – rstrui.exe – the instruction at xxx referenced memory at 0x00000008. The memory could not be read. I thought I would try to run SFC /scannow after but got the error there is a system repair pending which requires reboot.

    How to you decide what drive letter to use in the following commands e.g. list in diskpart first, look for system folders from command line etc???

    sfc /SCANNOW /OFFBOOTDIR=c:\ /OFFWINDIR=c:\Windows
    dism.exe /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingaction

    Many Thanks,

    • November 23rd, 2015 at 08:57 | #57

      I would be sure to test the RAM on that machine before doing a lot of stuff with Windows. You know what drive to use by looking at the top of the first GUI screen after you log in to the recovery environment. It says what drive the Windows installation is on. Usually C: or D: and sometimes E:. You can also open a command prompt from that screen and DIR C:/ DIR D: to see where your Windows and Users folders are.

  41. Ross
    November 29th, 2015 at 05:28 | #58


  42. Wayne
    December 28th, 2015 at 23:51 | #59

    I am running Win7 64bit and was trying to Image a new computer I built with pre-existing Image. I tried to run sfc /scannow and got the error MSG. When I tried “dism.exe /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions” I got a new MSG. (DISM Version 6.1.7600.16385) Error: 2 Unable to access the image. Make sure image path and the Windows Directory for the image exist and you have read permissions on the folder.

    Now my other problem (if there is indeed one)… when I imaged the original HDD I had 2 partitions (system reserved and Primary). System reserved was not defined by Drive Letter and Primary was C:\. The new image put the system reserve as Drive C:\ and the Primary into Drive D:\. Is this a problem with my boot?

    Thanks in advanced! Wayne

    • December 29th, 2015 at 15:16 | #60

      I’m disoriented by your first sentence. Where did the “pre-existing image” come from? The word “image” in the context of that comment suggests that you have a disk image that you’ve built on another machine? If that’s right, what you’re trying to do is unsupported in Windows and may not work no matter how much you mess around with it.

      To your question, you would need to fix your BCD boot record or indeed you’ll have boot problems. But I would prefer to take away the C: designation on System partition and reassign it to the Windows partition. You should be able to do this with diskpart from the Recovery Environment or Windows disc.

      Also, the drive designation is why your DISM command failed, you need to reference the D: drive not C:.

  43. Manu
    January 25th, 2016 at 05:03 | #61

    Hey, I have windows 8.1 and nothing works for me…
    I tried sfc /scannow, but it would give me the pending error, then I tried “dism.exe /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions” (I even replaced C with D but it still wouldn’t work)
    I tried sfc /SCANNOW /OFFBOOTDIR=c:\ /OFFWINDIR=c:\Windows (replacing C with D, again) and nothing works…
    I have rdyboost.sys corrupted, so my pc is in a automatic recovery loop… I really need your help!

    • January 25th, 2016 at 10:51 | #62

      It’s hard to analyse what’s going on without knowing the results your getting when these commands don’t work. In any case, when you get down to using this strategy, you likelihood of success is probably down to 20% anyway.

      If I was sure that the problem was with the that particular file, then I think I would look for another working Windows 8.1 installation to copy the file from and replace the one I have (save the old one as .OLD). If I couldn’t find another Windows 8.1 unit, I would use a Windows 7 install and hope that they haven’t changed that service too much.

      When you get to this point and the commands are failing it’s normally time to consider giving up with the repair and do a refresh, reset or reinstall, be carefully, only the first strategy preserves your data.

      Good luck.

  44. February 13th, 2016 at 13:45 | #63

    dismiss.exe /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions Results in. Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool. Version: 6.1.7600.16385. “Gap” Error: 2 “Gap” Unable to access the image. Make sure that the image path and the Windows directory for the image exist and you have Read permissions on the folder. “Gap”. The DISM log file can be found at X:\windows\Logs\DISM.log

  45. jeramy
    March 12th, 2016 at 14:36 | #64

    I have windows 10… Same issue boot record corrupted…tried windows disk…came back with error drive locked…tried the sfc came back with error system repair pending… Tried the disk.exe…./revertpendingactions came back with command line missing requires servicing command…please help

    • March 12th, 2016 at 17:19 | #65

      Look, I’m sorry to say that most low-level problems with Windows 10 require a clean re-install of Windows 10. Off the top of my head, I would say that about 5% of Windows 7 problems result in a reinstallation and about 50% of Windows 10 problems do. I have found no magic bullets and would advise you at this point to cut your losses, back up your data and reinstall.

  46. Tisha Lane
    April 1st, 2016 at 15:34 | #66

    @admin, thank you so much. I’ve been digging for days. This did not help but it got me feeling like i made progress. I am going to try the manual restore with fingers crossed. I shrunk my windows partition to make the recovery partition bigger. I did it in a one button deal with Partition Wizard. Big mistake. After that I’ve been booting to this black screen 🙁

    fyi, i get feedback from running the sfc that it found some currupt files and successfully repaired them but if I reboot into the windows repair and do it again, it says the same thing.

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