Windows Recovery Console

Satheesh C B | Tuesday, December 25, 2007 | 0 comments

If XP refuses to start up or run properly, or if the OS choice does not appear,you can fix it in a matter of minutes. All you need is your bootable Windows 2000 / XP CD

Bringing Up The Console


Set your first boot device to CD-ROM and boot using your Windows boot CD. When you see “Press any key to boot from CD”, do so. Next, choose the repair or recovery option by pressing [R]. If you have more than one installation of Windows, they will appear in the choices menu, so be aware of where the copy of Windows you wish to repair is installed, so you can choose it correctly. You need to enter the Administrator password in order to “log on” to the Windows installation in question. (Bear in mind that if you type a wrong password thrice in succession, the computer restarts.) You will see a command prompt that says “X:\WINDOWS”, where X is the partition where you installed the operating system (“C” in most cases). You can now access the troubleshooting / repair commands. Type “help” and press [Enter] to see a list of available commands. There are several powerful commands available.

Fixboot And Fixmbr

When you are installing a new OS, or have accidentally deleted system files from your boot drive, these two commands come to your rescue. The “fixboot” command rewrites the boot sector code onto the chosen partition. The syntax for this command is “fixboot <drive letter>”. The “fixmbr” command repairs the boot record of the boot partition. The master boot record can be damaged by a virus or a faulty installation of a second OS. Just use the “fixmbr” command to repair your boot record and have Windows working again! If neither of the above commands can get your Windows installation started, the next step will be to try the “bootcfg” command. Type “bootcnf /rebuild” for the recovery console to display all available Windows partitions. Choose the one you want to add to the boot menu.


The Check Disk (chkdsk) command scans a partition for errors and tries a data recovery if possible. If a bad sector is encountered, the Check Disk tool marks them as bad such that data will not be written to it. If Windows refuses to start and you suspect a failing hard disk (screeching noises, sudden hangs, etc.), use this command to check the status of your hard disk. The syntax is “chkdsk X”, where X is the drive letter assigned to the partition in question.

Restoring The Registry

Windows XP stores its Registry information in two files named “software” and “system” in the Windows\ system32 \config folder. Soon after installation, a copy of these files is stored in the
Windows\repair folder. In the event of Windows not starting up at all, a sure-shot way of getting it up and running is to replace the existing “software” and “system” files in the Windows\ system32\config with the files from the Windows\repair folder. Note that none
of your programs or drivers will work— you need to reinstall each of them. While it may seem like a tedious job, it sure is quicker and easier than a fullfledged reinstall and data backup. To do this, at the “C:\Windows” prompt, type “attrib -h -s \system32\config\system” and press [Enter]; next, type “attrib -s -h \system32\config\ software” and press [Enter]. This is to remove the “system” and “hidden” attributes of the files. You can now copy the files from the repair folder by typing “copy \repair\system \system32\ config”, pressing [Enter], then typing “copy \repair\software \system32\config” and pressing [Enter]. When you’re prompted to proceed with an overwrite, press [Y].

Run It From The Hard Disk

You can install the recovery console to your hard disk so that you can access it without the need for the Windows install CD. This speeds up performance because reading from hard disk is way faster than from CD. This is also useful if both your Windows installation and your CDROM drive die at the same time. To do this, insert your XP CD while Windows is running, go to Start > Run, and type “X:\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons” where X is the letter of your CD-ROM drive. Bear in mind that if the boot record or boot files on your hard disk are corrupted, you will still need the CD to access the recovery console.

Microsoft Knowledge Base Articles Relating to the Recovery Console:

303139 - Recovery Console Cannot Be Installed on 64-Bit Windows Platforms

308402 - Cannot Log On to Recovery Console After Running Sysprep

310497 - HOW TO: Add More Power to Recovery Console By Using Group Policy in Windows XP

312149 - HOW TO: Enable Administrator to Log On Automatically in Recovery Console

314058 - Description of the Windows XP Recovery Console

898594 - You receive an error message if you try to install the Recovery Console on a Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2-based computer

307654 - How to install and use the Recovery Console

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