ARCHIVED: In Windows XP, how do I use the Recovery Console?

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Warning: Do not attempt to use 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.

The Recovery Console allows you to bypass the Windows graphical interface and access certain folders.

Starting the Recovery Console

Start your computer with startup (setup) boot disks or with the Windows XP CD-ROM.

For help, see Microsoft Support.

At the Welcome to Setup screen, press r to start the Recovery Console.

Using the Recovery Console

After you start the Recovery Console, you receive the following message:

  "Microsoft Windows XP(TV) Recovery Console.

  The Recovery Console provides system repair and recovery functionality
  Type EXIT to quit the Recovery Console and restart this computer.


  Which Windows installation would you like to log onto
  (To cancel, press ENTER)?"

Enter the number for the appropriate Windows XP installation, and then enter the administrator account password.

Note: If you use an incorrect password three times, the Recovery Console will quit. 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, entering 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 XP 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


  BATCH      DELETE       FIXMBR      MKDIR     TYPE
  BOOTCFG    DIR          FORMAT      NET
  CD         DISABLE      HELP        RD
  CLS        EXIT         MAP         RMDIR
  COPY       EXPAND       MD          SET



       + Sets an attribute.
       - Resets an attribute.
       R Read-Only file attribute.
       S System file attribute.
       H Hidden file attribute.
       C Compressed 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 314058; refer to this article for full details on individual commands.

This is document amyc in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 13:55:55.