Recovery Console

Windows Recovery Console
Component of Microsoft Windows
Recovery Console in Windows XP
TypeRecovery tool
Introduced inWindows 2000
Last included inWindows Server 2003
Replaced byWindows Recovery Environment

Recovery Console is a diagnostic tool included on the Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 installation media, which can be used to repair system errors that prevent booting into the full Windows environment. It is a command line interface designed to resemble the Command Prompt and other console Windows utilities, however, they don't share any code and there are many differences between the Windows and Recovery Console versions of the same utilities, one of them most notably being DISKPART. The tool is implemented by the SPCMDCON.SYS driver loaded by the Windows Setup.

The Recovery Console is primarily used from the setup disc. However, it can also be installed to the hard disk by using the winnt32.exe /cmdcons command.[a] Upon a confirmation, the setup installs the Recovery Console to C:\CMDCONS and adds appropriate entries to boot.ini.

Windows Vista replaced the Recovery Console with the WinPE-based Windows Recovery Environment, which features a full graphical interface and implements most of the same functionality in wizards.

Commands[edit | edit source]

The Recovery Console supports many Command Prompt commands as well as includes some custom ones, which can be broken down into several categories.

Command Prompt counterparts[edit | edit source]

The following commands share largely the same behavior with Command Prompt built-in commands, mostly dealing with file management:

  • ATTRIB - manipulates file attributes
  • CD/CHDIR - changes or prints the current working directory
  • CLS - clears the screen
  • COPY - copies files
  • DEL/DELETE - deletes files
  • DIR - prints the contents of a directory
  • EXIT - exits the Recovery Console and reboots the computer
  • HELP - prints a list of supported commands or details about their usage
  • MD/MKDIR - creates a directory
  • RD/RMDIR - removes a directory
  • REN/RENAME - renames a file or directory
  • SET - sets or prints environment variables[b]
  • TYPE/MORE[c] - prints the contents of a file

External command counterparts[edit | edit source]

The following commands are similar to certain external commands included with Windows; however, they are not completely compatible with their regular counterparts' behavior (if at all):

  • BOOTCFG - manipulates the boot.ini file[b]
  • CHKDSK - checks a file system for errors
  • DISKPART - disk partition editor; unrelated to the regular DiskPart
  • EXPAND - expands compressed files from the installation media
  • FORMAT - formats a volume
  • NET - connects to a network share[d]

Exclusive to the Recovery Console[edit | edit source]

The following commands are exclusive to the Recovery Console:

  • BATCH - executes commands in a text file, similarly to a batch file
  • DISABLE - disables a service
  • ENABLE - enables a service
  • FIXBOOT - writes the Windows volume boot record to specified volume
  • FIXMBR - writes the Windows master boot record to specified disk
  • LISTSVC - lists all registered services
  • LOGON - logs the user onto a Windows installation; runs at start
  • MAP - displays drive letter mappings
  • SYSTEMROOT - changes to the system directory

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. winnt32.exe is located on the Windows setup disc, in a subdirectory depending on the target architecture (i386 for IA-32, amd64 for AMD64, or ia64 for IA-64).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Introduced in Windows XP
  3. The MORE command is recognized only as an alias for the TYPE command, which does not entirely match its usual syntax. Notably, it cannot be used to optionally paginate the output of a command; however, the output of all commands is already paginated automatically, removing the need for the command.
  4. The usability of the command is disputed, as there are no network stacks loaded in the Recovery Console.