Recovery Console Commands

How to use Recovery Console & a list of Recovery Console commands

A screenshot of the Windows XP Recovery Console
Recovery Console in Windows XP.

The Recovery Console is a command line based, advanced diagnostic feature available in some early versions of the Windows operating system.

Recovery Console is used to help resolve a number of major system problems. It's particularly useful for repairing or replacing important operating system files.

When these files aren't working like they should, Windows will sometimes not startup at all. In these cases, you must start the Recovery Console to restore the files.

How To Access & Use Recovery Console

The Recovery Console is usually accessed via booting from a Windows installation CD. Recovery Console can also sometimes be accessed from the boot menu, but only if it has been preinstalled on your system.

See How To Enter Recovery Console From the Windows XP CD for a complete walkthrough of the process.

A number of commands, unsurprisingly called Recovery Console commands (all listed below), are available from within Recovery Console. Using these commands in specific ways can help solve specific problems.

Here are some examples where executing a particular command in the Recovery Console is necessary to fix a serious Windows issue:

Recovery Console Commands

As I mentioned above, several commands are available within Recovery Console, quite a few of them exclusive to the tool.

When used, these commands can do things as simple as copying a file from one place to another, or as complicated as repairing the master boot record after a major virus attack.

Recovery Console commands are similar to Command Prompt commands and DOS commands but are completely different tools with different options and abilities.

Below is a complete list of Recovery Console commands, along with links to more detailed information about how to use each command:

CommandPurpose
AttribChanges or displays the file attributes of a file or folder
BatchUsed to create a script to run other Recovery Console commands
BootcfgUsed to build or modify the boot.ini file
ChdirChanges or displays the drive letter and folder you're working from
ChkdskIdentifies, and often corrects, certain hard drive errors (aka check disk)
ClsClears the screen of all previously entered commands and other text
CopyCopies a single file from one location to another
DeleteDeletes a single file
DirDisplays a list of files and folders contained inside the folder you're working from
DisableDisables a system service or device driver
DiskpartCreates or deletes hard drive partitions
EnableEnables a system service or device driver
ExitEnds the current Recovery Console session and then restarts the computer
ExpandExtracts a single file or group of files from a compressed file
FixbootWrites a new partition boot sector to the system partition that you specify
FixmbrWrites a new master boot record to the hard drive you specify
FormatFormats a drive in the file system you specify
HelpProvides more detailed information on any of the other Recovery Console commands
ListsvcLists the services and drivers available in your Windows installation
LogonUsed to gain access to the Windows installation you specify
MapDisplays the partition and hard drive that each drive letter is assigned to
MkdirCreates a new folder
MoreUsed to display information inside a text file (same as type command)
Net use[included in Recovery Console but is not usable]
RenameChanges the name of the file you specify
RmdirUsed to delete an existing and completely empty folder
SetEnables or disables certain options in Recovery Console
SystemrootSets the %systemroot% environment variable as the folder you're working from
TypeUsed to display information inside a text file (same as more command)

Recovery Console Availability

The Recovery Console feature is available in Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2003.

Recovery Console is not available in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7 or Windows Vista. Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP were the last Microsoft operating systems that contained Recovery Console.

Windows 7 and Windows Vista replaced Recovery Console with a collection of recovery tools referred to as System Recovery Options.

In Windows 10 and Windows 8, neither Recovery Console nor System Recovery Options is available. Instead, Microsoft created the arguably more powerful Advanced Startup Options as a central place to diagnose and repair Windows problems from outside the running operating system.

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