Windows Recovery Environment

Updated: 03/05/2023 by Computer Hope
Windows Recovery Environment

The Windows Recovery Environment, also abbreviated as WinRE, is a collection of tools included with Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8.x, Windows 7, and Windows Vista. The tools in WinRE help you recover or repair your Windows system if it does not boot or start up properly.

How to access WinRE

The Windows Recovery Environment runs if your computer fails to boot twice in a row. On the third boot, WinRE starts automatically instead of Windows.

To access the WinRE, follow these steps.

  1. Shut down or power off your computer.
  1. Press the power button on your computer to turn it on.
  2. Wait a few seconds until Windows starts to load. Then, press and hold the power button until your computer turns off.
  3. Repeat steps 2 and 3. (Power on the computer, wait for Windows to start booting, then hold down the power button until the computer shuts off.)
  4. Press the power button to boot the computer a third time. You see a message, "Preparing Automatic Repair." The message should eventually change to "Diagnosing your PC." Wait for this process to complete.

Preparing automatic repair

Diagnosing your PC

  1. At the Automatic Repair prompt, click Advanced options.

WinRE automatic repair

  1. From the Choose an Option menu, click Troubleshoot to access the WinRE recovery tools.

Choose an option

Tools available in WinRE

In the Troubleshoot menu, you have two main options:

Troubleshoot menu

  • Reset this PC — choose this option if you want to reinstall Windows.
  • Advanced options — choose this option to access the Windows Recovery Environment tools.

In the Advanced options menu, you have the following choices:

Advanced options menu

  • Startup Repair — Initiate a scan for common system problems, and attempt to automatically fix them.
  • Startup Settings — Restart the computer in Safe Mode.
  • Command Prompt — Open an elevated command prompt, where you can run tools such as sfc, diskpart, bootrec, and other recovery environment commands.
  • Uninstall Updates — Review your installed Windows Updates, and optionally remove them.
  • System Restore — Restore your Windows configuration from a restore point, if you previously created one.
  • System Image Recovery — Restore your Windows installation from a disk image file, if you previously created one.

Recovery Environment commands

The following commands are accessible through the Windows Recovery Environment.

Note

Some of these commands only work through the Windows Recovery Environment.

Arp
Attrib
Bcdboot
Bcdedit
Bootcfg
Bootrec
Cd
Chdir

Chkdsk
Chkntfs
Cls
Compact
Convert
Cscript
Del
Delete

Dir
Disable
Diskpart
Dism
Doskey
Driverquery
Enable
Exit
Expand
Find
Finger
Fixboot
Fixmbr
Format
Ftp
Help
Hostname
Ipconfig
Listsvc
Logon
Manage-bde
Map
Mbr2gpt
Md
Mkdir
More
Mountvol
Mrinfo
Nbtstat
Net
Netcfg
Netsh
Netstat
Pathping
Ping
Powercfg
Print
Rd
Recover
Reg
Ren
Rename

Repair-bde
Replace
Rmdir
Robocopy
Route
Set
Sfc
Subst
Systemroot
Takeown
Tracert
Type
Verifier
Wbadmin
Wpr
Xcopy

How to exit WinRE

To exit the Windows Recovery Environment, use the back arrow WInRE back arrow to return to the "Choose an option" menu. At this menu, click Continue to attempt to boot Windows normally, or click Turn off your PC to shut down the computer.

Computer acronyms, Operating System terms, Recovery, Troubleshoot