ARCHIVED: In Windows 2000, what is the Recovery Console and how do I use it?

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Warning: Do not access the Recovery Console unless you are a skilled user or a system administrator. Incorrect usage can result in loss of data or other damage to the software on your computer.

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The Recovery Console in Windows 2000

The Recovery Console in Windows 2000 allows you limited access to NTFS, FAT, and FAT32 volumes without starting the Windows graphical interface. Within the Recovery Console you can:

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

Only an administrator can obtain access to the Recovery Console, so unauthorized users cannot access NTFS volumes.

The information above is adapted from article 229716 at the Microsoft Help and Support web site.

Starting the Recovery Console

To start the Recovery Console, use either of the methods described below:

  • Start your computer with the Windows 2000 Startup (Setup) floppy disks or with the Windows 2000 CD-ROM. At the "Welcome to Setup" screen, press F10, or press r for Repair and then c to start the Recovery Console.
  • Add the Recovery Console to the Windows 2000 Startup folder by using Winnt32.exe with the /cmdcons switch:
      wintt32.exe /cmdcons

    This requires approximately 7MB of disk space on your system partition to hold the cmdcons directory and files.

Note: If you are using software mirroring, see article 229077 at the Microsoft Help and Support web site.

Using the Recovery Console

  1. After you start the Recovery Console, you receive the following message:
           Windows NT(TM) Boot Console Command Interpreter.
           This is a limited function command prompt intended only
           as a system recovery utility for advanced users. Using
           this utility incorrectly can cause serious system-wide
           problems that may require you to reinstall Windows NT
           to correct them.
           Type 'exit' to leave the command prompt and reboot the
           1: C:\WINNT
           Which Windows NT installation would you like to logon
           to (enter to abort)?
  2. After you enter the number for the appropriate Windows 2000 installation, enter the Administrator account password.

Note: If you use an incorrect password three times, the Recovery Console quits. Also, if the SAM database is missing or damaged, you won't be able to use the Recovery Console because you cannot be properly authenticated. After you enter your password and the Recovery Console starts, typing exit restarts your computer.

Restrictions and limitations of the Recovery Console

From the Recovery Console you can use only the following folders:

  • The root folder
  • The %SystemRoot% folder and the subfolders of the Windows 2000 installation you are currently logged into
  • The cmdcons folder
  • Removable media drives such as CD-ROM drives

Note: If you try to obtain access to other folders, you will receive an "Access Denied" error message. Also, while in the Recovery Console, you cannot copy a file from the local hard disk to a floppy disk. You can copy a file from a floppy disk or CD-ROM to a hard disk, and from one hard disk to another hard disk.

Available commands and attributes


  ATTRIB       DELETE        FIXBOOT    MD        TYPE
  CD           DIR           FIXMBR     MKDIR     SYSTEMROOT
  CHDIR        DISABLE       FORMAT     MORE
  CHKDSK       DISKPART      HELP       RD
  CLS          ENABLE        LISTSVC    REN
  COPY         EXIT          LOGON      RENAME
  DEL          EXPAND        MAP        RMDIR



       + Sets an attribute.
       - Resets an attribute.
       R Read-Only file attribute.
       S System file attribute.
       H Hidden file attribute. 

Note: At least one attribute must be set or cleared. To view attributes, use the DIR command.

This information is adapted from Microsoft Help and Support article 229716; refer to this article for full details on individual commands.

This is document ajkh in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 13:09:46.

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