You'll know if you need to run a particular command from within an elevated Command Prompt because it'll clearly tell you that in an error message after running the command.
For example, when executing the sfc command in a normal Command Prompt window, you'll get a message similar to You must be an administrator running a console session in order to use the sfc utility. Re-opening Command Prompt as an administrator and re-executing sfc will solve the problem.
Regardless of how the message is phrased, or what Command Prompt command we're talking about, opening an elevated Command Prompt is very easy.
The specific steps involved in opening an elevated Command Prompt differ somewhat depending on which operating system you're using:
- How To Open an Elevated Command Prompt in Windows 8
- How To Open an Elevated Command Prompt in Windows 7
- How To Open an Elevated Command Prompt in Windows Vista
- How To Open an Elevated Command Prompt in Windows XP
Don't let the discussion above convince you that you should, or need to, run Command Prompt as an administrator for most commands. You don't, and you'll know when you need to if you're told to after running a command. For almost all Command Prompt commands, it's perfectly okay to execute them from a normal Command Prompt window. See How Do I Open Command Prompt? if you need help.
Tip: If you plan on frequently using an elevated Command Prompt then you should consider creating a new shortcut to Command Prompt that automatically starts the program with administrator level access. See How To Create an Elevated Command Prompt Shortcut if you need help.
Important: To be able to open an elevated Command Prompt window, either a) your Windows user account must already have administrator privileges, or b) you must know the password to another account on the computer that has administrator privileges. Most home computer user's accounts are setup as administrator accounts.