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Using the Windows XP Recovery Console

Entering the Recovery Console

Windows XP

To enter the Recovery Console in Windows XP, you will need to boot from your Windows XP Setup CD.

When your computer starts up it will start the install routine. Watch for a 'Press any key to boot from CD' message and press a key to force your PC to boot from the Windows CD.

If you do not press a key at this stage your PC will continue to boot to the Windows XP installation that's currently installed on your hard drive. If this happens, simply reboot and try again to press a key and force your computer to boot from the Windows CD.

No user intervention is required in this step. Windows XP is loading a number of files in preparation for either a reinstallation of Windows XP or for use of the Recovery Console.

Note: Do not press a function key if asked to do so during this process. Those options are only necessary when installing Windows XP or reinstalling Windows XP and only then in certain circumstances.

When the Windows XP Home/Professional Setup screen appears, press R to enter Recovery Console.

Press R for Recovery Console The Recovery Console is now loading but needs to know which Windows installation to access. Most users only have a single Windows XP installation so the choice is usually clear.

The Recovery Console now needs to know the administrator password for this Windows XP installation. Unless you are using a PC in a sizable business network, the administrator password is most likely the same password you use to access Windows XP on a daily basis.

Still not sure what the administrator password is? Offline NT Password & Registry Editor, a free program typically used to reset lost Windows passwords, also has the ability to transform standard user accounts into administrator accounts, all without needing access to a working Windows installation!

To the Type the Administrator password request, enter the password and press Enter.

If you do not have a password or Windows XP normally starts without asking for one, simply press Enter.

Recovery Console Loaded The Recovery Console is now fully loaded and the cursor should be sitting at the prompt, ready for a command, as shown in the screen shot.

Make any changes necessary in the Windows XP Recovery Console. When complete, take out the Windows XP CD and type exit to restart the computer.

A limited number of commands are available for use from within Recovery Console.

Recovery Console Commands


The batch command can be used to run a series of other Recovery Console commands located in a text file that you specify.


The bootcfg command is used to build or modify the boot.ini file, a hidden file that is used to identify in what folder, on which partition, and on which hard drive Windows is located.


The chdir command is used to display the drive letter and folder that you are currently in. Chdir can also be used to change the drive and/or directory that you want to work in.


The chkdsk command is used to identify and correct certain hard drive errors.


The cls command clears the screen of all previously entered commands and other text.


The copy command does simply that - it copies a single file from one location to another.


The delete command is used to delete a single file.


The dir command is used to display a list of files and folders contained inside the folder that you are currently working in. The dir command also displays other important information like the hard drive's serial number, the total number of files listed, their combined size, the total amount of free space left on the drive, and more.


The disable command is used to disable a system service or a device driver.

Recovery Console Commands (continued)


The enable command is used to enable a system service or a device driver.


The exit command ends the Recovery Console session and then restarts the computer.


The expand command is used to extract a single file or a group of files from a compressed file.


The fixboot command writes a new partition boot sector to the system partition that you specify.


The fixmbr utility will write a master boot record to the hard drive that you're currently using to boot into Windows XP. This will repair any corruption or damage that the master boot record may have.


The format command is used to format a drive in the file system that you specify.


The help command provides more detailed information on any of the other Recovery Console commands.


The listsvc command will list the services and drivers available in your Windows installation.


The logon command is used to gain access to the Windows installation that you specify.


The mkdir command is used to create a new folder.


The more command is used to display the information contained in a text file. The more command performs the same function as the type command.

Net use

The net use command is not available in Recovery Console, even though it is listed in the "Help" system as an available command. In other areas of Windows, the net use command is used to assign a drive letter to a shared network resource.


The rename command is used to change the name of the individual file that you specify.


The rmdir command is used to delete an existing and completely empty folder.


The set command is used to enable or disable certain options in Recovery Console.


The systemroot command is used to set the %systemroot% environment variable as the current folder you are working in.


The type command is used to display the information contained in a text file. The type command performs the same function as the more command.

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