Windows Recovery Environment

Windows Vista introduces the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE or WinRE), which completely replaces the Recovery Console. WinRE is actually a Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE), which enables much more advanced tools for system diagnosis and recovery.

To access the WinRE using the Vista install disk:
  1. Boot from the Vista install disk
  2. Choose your language settings and click "Next"
  3. On the bottom of the screen click the link "Repair Your Computer"
  4. Select the Vista installation to repair and click "Next" and it will launch WinRE
    • The "Load Drivers" button will open a mini Windows Explorer, which can be used to search for drivers in case they are needed to access disk drives or other components. This mini Explorer is also very handy to perform file copy/move operations and change file-attributes.
The following options are available in WinRE:
  • Startup Repair - It will repair the boot manager files and restore critical files required for booting Windows Vista.

    After attempting to repair the system it will display a Startup Repair diagnosis and repair log with the different Test Performed and the probably root cause.
  • System Restore - Windows Vista automatically performs daily backups of system critical files and also before installation of drivers and applications. These backups are called system restore points, and this option makes it possible to restore the system state before the moment it started to fail.
  • Windows Complete PC Restore - If having performed a backup of the entire system, then this option can be used to restore that backup.
  • Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool - Memory modules can be sensitive to things like working with other memory modules, system-bus frequencies, motherboard models, overclocking etc. When the memory modules fails to work properly then the computer will become unstable especially when under load. More Info Windows Help
    • If wanting to access the Memory Diagnostic Tool without installing Vista first, then boot from the Vista Install Disk, and when it says "Press any key to boot from CD or DVD..." hold down the Space-bar or press it multiple times. This should bring up the Windows boot manager, which has "Windows Memory Diagnostic" as an option.
  • Command Prompt - Pretty much the same as the Recovery Console. Among other things it gives access to the boot manager configuration. More Info MS KB927392:
    • Bootrec.exe /FixMbr - Rewrites the Master Boot Record (MBR) for the boot partition.
    • Bootrec.exe /FixBoot - Rewrites the boot sector for the boot partition.
    • Bootrec.exe /ScanOs - Scans all disk for bootable partitions and displays the entries not in the BCD store.
    • Bootrec.exe /RebuildBcd - Scans all disk for bootable partitions and allows one to decide what entries to rebuild the BCD store from (Similar to Bootcfg /rebuild in XP).
    • BCDEdit.exe - Can backup / restore the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) store. Can change the boot manager options for a certain entry in the BCD.
    Note the old Recovery Console commands to work with services and drivers (LISTSVC, ENABLE, DISABLE) are no longer available, but instead one can use regedit to edit registry hive offline and change the startup setting for the service or driver.
Note if not having the Vista install disc then the system builder might have created a hidden partition for the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE). If this is the case then WinRE should be available when pressing the F8 key during startup (Like if booting into safemode). More Info How to install WinRE locally


  1. luke says:

    hay mate thanx so so much i was a little worried wen vista would not boot but its all good now so thanxs for all your help and takeing the time to put sum thing on the net that would help so thanx agen you RULLL!

  2. Eugene Meenan says:

    gosh you all seem to be totally stupid at times - all PC's aren't provided with DVD's so how do you recover them - especially if someone is stupid enough to damage the drive oh yeah - I know lets go buy a new copy of the disk.

    How to get more money off the honest worker.

    I'm an IT engineer and quickly backed up my system so I could recover, but I feel so sorry for the amount of users coming to me with the above fault as it costs them. Stop Ripping people off Microsoft we aren't all computer experts.

  3. mickey says:

    hey when i turn on my acer laptop the screen immediatly shows "GPTFB is compressed
    press ctrl+alt+del to restart what do i do???

  4. Dana Howley says:

    Thanks for the great help....I was fixing my pc and I compressed the wrong partition, followed your steps and everything was fixed.

  5. Dave says:

    I have lenovo y530 running vista. I have a bad disk and trying to replace. It has the one key recovery system. I have partitioned the new drive to match old and copied the one key files on the d: partition, which I thought has the Vista software on it to reload Vista. installed the new drive and hit the recovery key to reload vista and it states boot manager is missing. Can anyone help me out on this. I would be greatful to anyone able to help out on this.

  6. Col Rogers says:

    Hey, i recently lost my boot drive and i am literally panicking. I also got the usual message, 'Boot disk missing, press ctrl+alt+delete'.

    All i am really worried about is losing my files (music, pics, docs, etc). Will i loose them?
    I alo ran aregular automatic backup saved to D disk, i can't imagine D disk being harmed. I am no computer expert so pleaaaaaaaase help me!! :)

  7. Dave says:

    Not sure how to help you with the info you gave, No the D drive will stay untouched and for that fact your c drive should be okay as well. You need an orginal disk or a boot disk to recover your back up on your D drive. That is about all I can help you with. I am not a genius, just average Joe working out issues on my own, if you know what I mean.

  8. siraj fidai says:

    The bootmanager in my Gateway laptop is compressed. When I start the computer the message is "Bootmngr is compressed. PressAlt, Ctrl, Delete to restart". I had lost the recovey disks so requested the manufacturer to send me one. They sent one system recovery disk, and two sets of recovery disks (2 disk for each set). If I insert the system recovery disk, it advices that all data will be lost - it does not give me option to decompress or repair the disk. I do not want to lose the data in the hard drive. If I insert the recovery disk it still gives me the message "Bootmngr is compressed. PressAlt, Ctrl, Delete to restart". Can someone guide me what to do?

  9. Jazib Ali says:

    bootmgr is compressed in my dell pentium 4.... 2.80 GHz 160 Gb hard disk and 1 GB RAM.... when a turn on my pc it says BOOTMGR is compressed press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart, i have done it for a million times but same thing happens again and again ... what should i do now

  10. corey mangas says:

    hey i got the message bootmgr is missing........ ive been reading and everyone says i need the start up disk what if i cant find my start up disk is there a diffrent way i can do it?

  11. nam says:

    What to do if there is OS cd and F8 does not work to go into safe mode?

  12. Serg says:

    caught "DQKBC is compressed" helped /FixBoot.

  13. Querk McGoober says:

    Seems like good info but what the heck, I don't understand anything of it...
    I'm not a bloody ms programer so this info is futile.

    Well I'm off to Linux, better user help.

    MS updates are definately corrupted. I had no probs untill i installed SP1 several days ago plus their stupid do-all .NET v4

    This is just a warning to all other Vista/7 and soon to be Windows 8 users, you will be scammed by the conglomerate MS from Redmond wherever you are in the world

  14. David says:

    How do you get the computer to boot from the dvd or cd? Do you just press f8? cause all it says is CTRL+ALT+DELETE... so what if f8 doesnt do anything? How else can someone get the computer to boot?

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