Windows XP / Beginners

Working with the Recovery Console

Windows XP includes an advanced command-line tool called the Recovery Console. The Recovery Console is designed to provide just what the name implies: You can try to fix Windows XP in the event that Windows will not start. The preferred method for fixing Windows when it will not start is to use Safe Mode. However, in some circumstances, using Safe Mode will not work either. In this case, you can turn to the Recovery Console for assistance. The primary advantage of the Recovery Console is that it works independently of Windows system files, so if files are corrupted, you can still use the Recovery Console to repair them.

The Recovery Console is a powerful tool and one that you should spend some time working with in order to become adept. You can do lots of things-create and format drives, repair system files, repair the system boot sector or Master Boot Record, enable or disable services and devices, copy new Windows system files and folders, just to name a few.

If you need to use the Recovery Console, you can start it directly from the Windows CD-ROM. Just start the computer with the CD and follow the prompts to load the Windows startup files. At the Welcome to Setup screen that appears, press R to start the Recovery Console. You'll need to type the administrator password on Windows XP Professional computers (it's blank on Windows XP Home Edition). When the command prompt appears, you can begin entering Recovery Console commands.

The command prompt that you see works with Recovery Console commands only; it does not work with other typical command prompt commands.

Once you have started the Recovery Console, you type Help to see a list of the available commands. Once you see the list of commands, type Help commandname to learn more about that particular command. Table below lists and explains the most common commands that you can use.

Recovery Console Commands

AttribFor a single file or folder, this command sets or clears the attributes, such as Read Only, Hidden, and System.
BatchExecutes commands from a text file.
BootcfgScans all disks for Windows installations, then solves any existing problems in Boot.ini.
CD (Chdir)Changes folders.
ChkdskScans the disk and finds back sectors. The command can repair a drive and recover readable information.
ClsClears the screen.
CopyCopies a file.
Del (Delete)Deletes a file.
DirShows the contents of a folder, including any system or hidden files.
DisableDisables a service or a driver.
DiskpartManages partitions on basic disks. It should not be used on dynamic volumes.
EnableEnables a service or driver.
ExitCloses the Recovery Console.
ExpandExtracts a file from a .cab (compressed) file on the local disk or Windows CD.
FixbootCreates a new partition boot sector on the partition you specify when using the command.
FixmbrFixes the Master Boot Record on the disk you specify when using the command.
FormatFormats a partition, drive, or volume.
HelpShows Help menu and information.
ListsvcLists all available services and drives and their current start types.
LogonShows all detected installations of Windows XP, 2000, and NT so that you can choose the installation to which you will log on.
MapShows all drive letters, file system types, partition sizes, and the mappings to physical devices. This command works only with basic disks and may provide inaccurate information if you try to use it on dynamic disks.
Md or MkdirCreates a new folder or subfolder in the desired location.
MoreShows more information, such as when there is a text break on the screen.
Net UseAllows you to connect to a network resource.
Rd (Rmdir)Removes a folder.
Ren (Rename)Renames a file.
SetDisplays and modifies Recovery Console environment variables.
SystemrootSets the current folder to the %SystemRoot% folder.
TypeShows a text file.
[Previous] [Contents] [Next]