ServersCool Tools: The Windows 2000 Recovery Console

Cool Tools: The Windows 2000 Recovery Console

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Thomas Shinder

It was about 11 PM when I heard the all too familiar groaning of the hard
drive. “Clunk, clunk, clunk” and then the sound of the disk powering
up and down, and finally the friendly “blue screen” telling me that
something was wrong.

It was about 11 PM when I heard the all too familiar groaning of the hard drive. ‘Clunk, clunk, clunk’ and then the sound of the disk powering up and down, and finally the friendly ‘blue screen’ telling me that something was wrong.

Of course, the nightly backup wasn’t for another 30 minutes, so the 12
articles that I wrote that day were at risk. I certainly didn’t want to spend
another 14 hours recreating the stuff again. No problem, I’ll just restart the
computer, backup the stuff, and maybe put in a new hard disk.

Why Does Bread Land on the Jelly Side?

What is it that when you drop a piece of bread on the floor, it always lands
on the Jelly side? And why is it when you’ve got a tight deadline, that your
boot and system volumes are on the drive that’s failing?

Click Here to Learn
About the Paradox of the Jelly and the Cat

I restarted the computer. During the Startup process I got the word:


The Windows 2000 Recovery Console to the Rescue

If I were running Windows NT, I would have few options,
reinstalling the operating system and trying to recovery any files on the dying
disk. Or, I might try a tool from the good folks at The
first option is time consuming and wastes disk space, and the second option
requires me to pull out a credit card.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to make that decision. I was running Windows
2000 and I could use the Recovery Console to fix the problem.

The Windows 2000 Recovery Console allows you to boot into a “mini”
version of Windows 2000 and provides a command console environment in which you
can perform many tasks that may allow you to save your data, or even get the
operating system to boot again. The best part of the Recovery Console is that it
comes with Windows 2000. No extra charges or 3rd party products

“What Can I Do with the Recovery Console?”

Some of the things you can do with the Recovery Console include:

  • Repair the Boot Sector
  • Repair the Master Boot Record
  • Replace whacked out driver files that you can’t access while
    the full OS is running
  • Copy critical files to another drive or removable disk
  • Prevent freaked-out services from starting up on the next
  • Run a disk scan (chkdsk) and possible revive corrupted files

…and lot’s more!

You must log on with the Administrator account for the local machine. If your
SAM is fried, and then you won’t be able to start the Recovery Console because
you won’t be able to be authenticated.

“What Can’t I Do with the Recovery Console?”

Well, there are a lot of things you can’t do with the Recovery Console, but
here are a few things of which you should be aware:

  • You can only enter the %systemroot% folder tree and the

    folder. You can’t go messing around in other folders.

  • You can’t copy files to a floppy disk

Keep these things in mind, especially if you are trying to use the recovery
console to retrieve data not located in the %systemroot% folder tree or if you
thought you could get away with copying data to a floppy.

“How Do I Install and Start the Thing?”

The Recovery Console is not installed by default. In order to get it
installed, open the Run command and type:

i386winnt32.exe /cmdcons

Where the is the path to your i386 folder on CD or installation
share point.

After you complete the installation a new folder named Cmdcons will
appear on your system partition. The executables required to run the Command
Console are located in this folder. It will not place any icons in the Start menu
or anywhere else. However, when you restart your computer, you’ll notice that
they boot menu contains a new entry for the Command Console.

When you chose the Command Console option in the Boot Menu, the system will
start up and you’ll see a dark screen with white dots moving across (sort of
like how the Windows NT 4.0 boot process looked if you weren’t booting with
the /sos switch included in the boot.ini file). After the dots are done, you
will be asked to chose an installation of Windows 2000. If you only have a
single installation, you get one choice. Otherwise, it will list all
installation of Windows 2000 on your system.

After you select the installation of Windows 2000, you will need to enter
your username and password for the local Administrator account. After you are
authenticated, you are dumped to a command prompt with the focus in the
systemroot folder. Type Help at the command prompt to see the commands
available to you.

For More Information

For more information on the Recovery Console in general, try

For more information on how to repair your operating system after an errant
program or driver has whacked it, try HERE.

For more information on how to delete a corrupt or otherwise unwanted, but
invisible page file, try HERE.

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