dcsimg

Windows Recovery Console

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Dec 5, 2001


by Ryan Smith

Both Windows 2000 and Windows XP include a Recovery Console that gives you the capability to help you recover your system when your machine has problems booting up or doesn't boot at all.

Ryan Smith's latest article takes an in-depth look at the Windows XP / Windows 2000 Recovery Console, a tool that will help you recover your system when it has problems booting up or doesn't boot at all. The Recovery Console allows you to boot into a command prompt and gain access (although limited) to any FAT, FAT32 or NTFS volumes on your local system.

The Recovery Console allows you to boot into a command prompt and gain access to (although limited) any FAT, FAT32 or NTFS volumes of your local system.  Using the Recovery Console, you completely bypass the GUI of Windows 2000/XP.  Therefore, if you have, for example, a corrupt driver or recently installed an application that is causing Blue Screen errors, you can hopefully boot into the Recovery Console and resolve the problem.

There are several methods for starting the Recovery Console:

  • Boot off of either the Windows Setup floppy disks or the Windows CD-ROM. Press F10 during the splash screen, or press R to repair and then press C to start the Windows Recovery Console.
  • Run the winnt32.exe with the /cmdcons switch to add the Windows Recovery Console to the Windows Startup, so that the Windows Recovery Console is listed as an option when Windows 2000/XP boots.

When you start the Windows Recovery Console, you will be given the option of choosing which Windows installation you wish to log into. If you have three local different installations of Windows 2000 or XP on that system, you will be presented with three different choices.  Once you choice which Windows installation you wish to log into, you will be prompted for the appropriate Administrator password. Once this has been entered, you will be taken to the %systemroot% partition of the Windows installation you logged into.

Please note that if the SAM database is missing or corrupt, you won't be able to log into the Windows Recovery Console.  Unfortunately, the Windows Recovery Console cannot be used to restore an corrupt SAM database without the use of third party utilities.

There are several limitations in use when you are accessing the Windows Recovery Console.  These are as follows:

  • The root folder, cmdcons folder, %systemroot% folder and sub-folders of the Windows installation you are logged into are available.  All other folders are NOT available.
  • Removable media drives such as floppy or cd-rom drives are available.
  • You can copy a file from a floppy disk or cd-rom to a hard disk or even from one hard-disk to another hard-disk.  However, you CANNOT copy a file from a local hard disk to a floppy disk  

The following table summarizes the available commands in the Windows Recovery Console. Please note, each of these commands has various attributes.  Additional information can be found by using the Windows Recovery Console HELP command. 

NAME DESCRIPTION
attrib Change the attributes of a file or folder.
batch (ONLY IN WINDOWS XP)
Execute commands specified in a text file, similar to DOS batch files.
bootcfg (ONLY IN WINDOWS XP)
Allows you to perform boot configuration and recovery.
cd Change the current folder.
chdir Change the current folder, but only operates within the system folders of the current installation of Windows, removable media, the root folder of any hard disk partition or the local installation sources. 
chkdsk Checks the drive for errors and if needed, repairs or recovers the drive. 
cls Clears the screen
copy Copies a file.
del Deletes a file.
delete Deletes a file, but only operates within the system folders of the current installation of Windows, removable media, the root folder of any hard disk partition or the local installation sources.  Also does not accept wild card (*) characters.

dir

Display a listing of files and subfolders in a folder.
disable Disable a Windows service or driver from starting on startup.. 
diskpart Manages partitions on your local hard drives.
enable Enables a Windows service or driver to start on startup.
exit Exit's the Windows Recovery Console and restarts your computer.
expand Expand a .CAB file.
fixboot Writes a new Windows boot sector onto the boot partition in the event of a corrupt boot sector. Also accomplished with using the Emergency Repair process.
fixmbr Repairs the Master Boot Record (MBR) of the system partition. 
format Formats a specified drive with a specified file system.
help Displays the help files for the Windows Recovery Console.
listsvc Lists all available services, drivers and their startup types for the current Windows installation.
logon Lists all detected installations of Windows and allows you to logon to one once you input the local administrator password for that installation. 
map List drive letters, file system types, partition sizes and mappings to physical devices.
md Creates a new folder.
mkdir Creates a new folder, but only operates within the system folders of the current installation of Windows, removable media, the root folder of any hard disk partition or the local installation sources.  
more Display a text file to the screen
net (ONLY IN WINDOWS XP)
Use the NET USE command to map a network share to a drive letter.
rd Deletes a folder. 
ren Renames a file, but only operates within the system folders of the current installation of Windows, removable media, the root folder of any hard disk partition or the local installation sources.  
rename Same functionality as the ren command.
rmdir Deletes a folder, but only operates within the system folders of the current installation of Windows, removable media, the root folder of any hard disk partition or the local installation sources.  
set Allows you to display or modify four environment options (Allow Wild Cards, Allow All Paths, Allow Removeable Media and No Copy Prompt)
systemroot Sets the current folder to the %systemroot% folder of the current Windows installation you are logged into.
type Displays a text file.

Ryan Smith

Page 1 of 1


Comment and Contribute

Your name/nickname

Your email

(Maximum characters: 1200). You have characters left.