Using Recovery Console in Windows 2000 / XP

The Recovery Console is a command prompt environment that is useful for emergency repair of the normal Windows installation (Like creating the Emergency Recover Disks). One can access the recovery console by booting from a Windows 2000/XP install CD-ROM:

  1. Insert the Windows install CD-ROM, and boot the computer.
  2. When the text-based part of Setup begins, follow the prompts. Select the repair or recover option by pressing R.
  3. Select the Windows installlation you want to repair and enter your Administrator password.

Note the password for the builtin administrator account on Windows XP is usually blank, so just press enter when it requests for a password.

Note one still need to have a floppy disk with 3rd party drivers for SCSI/SATA and such, when booting with the Recovery Console. Unless Installing Recovery Console with 3rd party controller drivers

Note the Recovery Console can also be used to repair old Windows NT4 installations.

More info MS KB229716
More info MS KB326215
More info MS KB313670
More info MS KB301645
More info MS KB314058

Useful commands in the Recovery Console
  • FIXBOOT - Restores the boot sector in case another OS (Ex. Win98) has overwritten it, and sets the boot partition as active partition.
  • FIXMBR - Restores the master boot record(MBR) in case a virus or similar has corrupted it
  • DISKPART - HDD Partition Utility (Similar to FDISK in DOS)
  • CHKDSK - Scandisk utility (The “/r” -option is good when getting “Delayed Write Failed” errors. More Info MS KB330174)
  • LISTSVC - Shows services installed, when launched in the WINNT\SYSTEM32 folder.
  • DISABLE <service name> - Will disable the service specified when launched in the WINNT\SYSTEM32 folder (Which might keep your system from booting)
  • ENABLE <service name> - Will enable the service specified when launched in the WINNT\SYSTEM32 folder (Which might enable your system to boot)
  • EXPAND - Makes it possible to restore compressed system files from the install cd. (Ex. ATAPI.SYS)
  • BATCH - Makes it possible to execute batch files. (Ex. to uninstall hotfix/patches from Microsoft). More Info MS KB825062
  • BOOTCFG - Makes it easier to configure/rebuild the boot manager boot.ini (WinXP+ only). More info MS KB291980 More info MS KB317521
  • Using Recovery Console to restore registry files

More info MS KB235364

Configure Recovery Console Security

Note one can lessen the security for the recovery console to have easier access. Run “secpol.msc” and go here “Local Policies” -> “Security Options” - “Recovery Console: Allow Automatic Administrative Logon” : Then you don’t need to remember your admin password (People still need to get physical access to the machine)

  • “Recovery Console: Allow floppy copy and access to all drives and all folders” : To give you access to the whole machine

More info MS KB310497
More info MS KB312149

Installing Recovery Console

Instead of having to find the Windows install CD every time the Recovery Console is needed, then one can install the Recovery Console on the computer. This is also useful if the computer cannot boot from a CD-ROM.

Inside Windows run the following command (X: is your CD-Drive containing the Windows CD-ROM)

X:\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons

Note when having installed the Recovery Console on the computer, then it becomes part of the standard boot menu. It is possible to install extra drivers to the Recovery Console, so one doesn’t need extra floppies to load disk controller drivers (Also useful if there is no floppy drive in the computer).

Note that if the system drive is mirrored, then you need to break the mirror before installing Recovery Console and then create the mirror again with Disk Administrator.

More info MS KB307654
More info MS KB318752