How to use the Windows Recovery Console

Updated: 01/05/2018 by Computer Hope
Microsoft Windows

Below are some important things to realize when using the Microsoft Windows Recovery Console.

  1. You need to know the Microsoft Windows administrator password.
  2. You need to have at least some experience using Windows command line. See our Windows command line overview for a quick lesson on how to use the command line if needed.
  3. You only have access to the root directory and the Microsoft Windows or WinNT directory. If this applies to you, you likely cannot open any other directory.
  4. Access is limited to reading from the floppy disk drive, CD-ROM drive, or other disc drives. As a result, you will not be able to copy information from the hard drive to another drive for backup. However, you can copy information from the CD-ROM or floppy disk drive to the hard drive.

To get into the Microsoft Windows Recovery Console, you must have an original Microsoft Windows disc. (If your computer came with another restore or recovery disc, it's possible the steps below may not apply to you.) Place the Windows disc in your computer and boot from the disc.


If you do not have a Microsoft Windows XP CD, you can get into the Recovery Console by using the Windows XP bootable diskettes. A link for downloading the files to make these diskettes is available on our boot disk page.

Once in the Microsoft Windows Setup screen, choose one of the options below, depending on the version of Microsoft Windows you are using.

Windows XP users

To repair a Windows XP installation using Recovery Console, press R to enter the Recovery Console.

After getting to the Microsoft Windows Recovery Console, select the Windows installation you want to log onto. Press the number 1 key if you want to edit the primary Windows installation.

After selecting the installation, enter the administrator password exactly as you would in Windows. If you do not know the Windows administrator password, you cannot enter the recovery mode.

  • Typing in "help" at the prompt gives a complete listing of all commands available through the prompt.
  • Additional information about many of the commands available in MS-DOS and in the recovery mode can also be found on our MS-DOS page.

Windows 2000 users choose

Once you have entered the Recovery Console, press R and then press C.