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Installing Windows XP Recovery Console

By: Arie Slob

The Recovery Console is a command line (similar to DOS) that provides a long list of commands that you can use to troubleshoot/fix your computer when your computer does not start properly or does not start at all. If you can't get into safe mode, you should consider using the Recovery Console.

In the Windows Recovery Console, you can:

  • Use, copy, rename, or replace operating system files and folders
  • Repair the file system boot sector or the Master Boot Record (MBR)
  • Enable or disable service or device startup when you next start your computer
  • Create and format partitions on drives

There are different ways in which you can access the Recovery Console. You could load it from the Windows XP CD-ROM when the need arises, but it might be better to install the Recovery Console on your system before you need it. The advantage of having the Recovery Console installed on your system is that you can access it much more quickly.

Now you need to realize that in some cases you will not be able to boot from your hard drive, so you'd still need to boot from your Windows XP CD. But for a number of other problems it might be beneficial to have the Recovery Console installed on your hard disk.

Installing the Recovery Console on your system takes up around 7MB of disk space. To install the Recovery Console on your system follow these steps:

  1. While running Windows XP, insert your Windows XP CD in the drive, and click Exit when the installation options are displayed
    (You can skip this if you already have the \i386 directory on your hard drive)
  2. Select Start > Run and in the Open box type: {X}:\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons
    Where {X} should be the driver letter of your CD drive. If the i386 directory is already installed on your computer, you can just type the path to it, for example C:\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons
  3. Follow the instructions to install the Recovery Console, when the installation is complete, restart your computer
  4. The Recovery Console will show up in the list of available operating systems in the boot menu. to use the Recovery Console, you need administrator privileges

To speed up the boot menu, select Start > Control Panel > System > Advanced tab. Click the Startup and Recovery Settings button. In the System startup portion you can adjust the time used to display the bootmenu.

If you don't have a Windows XP CD (some system builders only supply you with a "Recovery CD"), it should be possible to install the Recovery Console from the Windows XP Setup disks. Information on obtaining Windows XP Setup Boot Disks can be found in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 310994.

More information on using the Recovery Console, including a short description of the commands can be found in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 307654.

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