How To Use the Recovery Console on a Windows Server 2003-Based Computer That Does Not Start

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SUMMARY

This step-by-step article describes how to use Recovery Console to recover a Windows Server 2003-based computer that does not start.

The Recovery Console is a command-line tool that you can use to repair Windows if the computer does not start correctly. You can start the Recovery Console from the Windows Server 2003 CD, or at startup, if you previously installed the Recovery Console on the computer.

Use the Recovery Console on a Computer that Does Not Start

NOTE: You must be logged on as Administrator or as a member of the Administrators group to perform this procedure. Also, if your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings may prevent you from completing this procedure.

To run the Recovery Console, follow these steps:
  1. Configure the computer to start from the CD or the DVD drive. For more information about how to do this, see the computer documentation or contact the computer manufacturer.
  2. Insert the Windows Server 2003 CD in the computer's CD or DVD drive.
  3. Restart the computer.
  4. When you receive the message that prompts you to press any key to start from the CD, press a key to start the computer from the Windows Server 2003 CD.
  5. When the Welcome to Setup screen appears, press the R key to start the Recovery Console.
  6. Select the Windows installation that you must access from the Recovery Console.
  7. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen, type the Administrator password, and then press ENTER.
  8. At the command prompt, type the appropriate Recovery Console commands to repair your Windows Server 2003 installation.

    For a list of commands that are available in the Recovery Console, type help at the command prompt, and then press ENTER.

    NOTE: Alternatively, you can install the Recovery Console as a startup option on the computer so that it is always available. For information about how to do so, see the Precautionary Measures section in this article.
  9. To quit the Recovery Console and restart the computer, type exit at the command prompt, and then press ENTER.

Recovery Console Commands

The following list describes the available commands for the Recovery Console:
  • Attrib changes attributes on one file or folder.
  • Batch executes commands that you specify in the text file, InputFile. OutputFile holds the output of the commands. If you omit the OutputFile argument, output is displayed on the screen.
  • Bootcfg is used for boot configuration and recovery. You can use the bootcfg command to make changes to the Boot.ini file.
  • CD (chdir) operates only in the system directories of the current Windows installation, in removable media, in the root directory of any hard disk partition, or in the local installation sources.
  • Chkdsk: The /p switch runs Chkdsk even if the drive is not flagged as dirty. The /r switch locates bad sectors and recovers readable information. This switch implies /p. Chkdsk requires Autochk. Chkdsk automatically looks for Autochk.exe in the startup folder or in the boot folder. If Chkdsk cannot find the file in the startup folder, it looks for the Windows Server 2003 installation CD. If Chkdsk cannot find the installation CD, it prompts the user for the location of Autochk.exe.
  • Cls clears the screen.
  • Copy copies one file to a target location. By default, the target cannot be removable media, and you cannot use wildcard characters. Copying a compressed file from the Windows Server 2003 installation CD automatically decompresses the file.
  • Del (delete) deletes one file. Del operates in the system directories of the current Windows installation, in removable media, in the root directory of any hard disk partition, or in the local installation sources. By default, you cannot use wildcard characters.
  • Dir displays a list of all files, including hidden and system files.
  • Disable disables a Windows system service or a Windows driver. The servicename argument is the name of the service or the driver that you want to disable. When you use this command to disable a service, it displays the service's original startup type before changing the type to SERVICE_DISABLED. It is a good idea to note the original startup type so that you can use the enable command to restart the service.
  • Diskpart manages partitions on hard disk volumes.
    • The /add option creates a new partition.
    • The /delete option deletes an existing partition.
    • The device-name argument is the device name for a new partition. One example of a device name for a new partition is \device\harddisk0.
    • The drive-name argument is the drive letter for a partition that you are deleting, such as D:.
    • Partition-name is the partition-based name for a partition that you are deleting, and can be used instead of the drive-name argument. One example of a partition-based name is \device\harddisk0\partition1.
    • The size argument is the size in megabytes of a new partition.
  • Enable enables a Windows system service or a Windows driver. The servicename argument is the name of the service or the driver that you want to enable, and start_type is the startup type for an enabled service. The startup type uses one of the following formats:
         SERVICE_BOOT_START
         SERVICE_SYSTEM_START
         SERVICE_AUTO_START
         SERVICE_DEMAND_START 
  • Exit quits the Recovery Console and then restarts the computer.
  • Expand expands a compressed file. The source argument is the file that you want to expand. By default, you cannot use wildcard characters. The destination argument is the directory for the new file. By default, the destination cannot be removable media and cannot be read-only. You can use the attrib command to remove the read-only attribute from the destination directory. The option /f:filespec is required if the source contains more than one file. This option permits wildcard characters. The /y switch disables the overwrite confirmation prompt. The /d switch specifies that the files should not be expanded and displays a directory of the files in the source.
  • Fixboot writes a new boot sector on the system partition. The fixboot command is only supported on x86-based computers.
  • Fixmbr repairs the boot partition's master boot record (MBR). The device-name argument is an optional name that specifies the device that requires a new MBR. Omit this variable when the target is the boot device. The fixmbr command is only supported on x86-based computers.
  • Format formats a disk. The /q switch performs a quick format. The /fs:file-system switch specifies the file system.
  • Help lists all the commands that the Recovery Console supports. For more information about a specific command, type help command-name or command-name /?.
  • Listsvc displays all available services and drivers on the computer.
  • Logon displays detected installations of Windows and requests the local Administrator password for those installations. Use this command to move to another installation or subdirectory.
  • Map displays currently active device mappings. Include the arc option to specify the use of Advanced RISC Computing (ARC) paths instead of Windows device paths. (ARC is the format that is used for the Boot.ini file.)
  • Md (Mkdir) creates a directory. The command operates only in the system directories of the current Windows installation, in removable media, in the root directory of any hard disk partition, or in the local installation sources.
  • More/Type displays the specified text file to the screen.
  • Rd (rmdir) removes a directory. The command operates only in the system directories of the current Windows installation, in removable media, in the root directory of any hard disk partition, or in the local installation sources.
  • Ren (rename) renames a single file. The command operates only in the system directories of the current Windows installation, in removable media, in the root directory of any hard disk partition, or in the local installation sources. You cannot specify a new drive or path as the target.
  • Set displays and sets the Recovery Console environment variables.
  • Systemroot sets the current directory to %systemroot%.

Precautionary Measures

How to Install the Recovery Console as a Startup Option

You can install the Recovery Console on a working computer so that it is available to use if you cannot start Windows. This precautionary measure can save you time if you must use the Recovery Console.

NOTE: You must be logged on as Administrator or as a member of the Administrators group to complete this procedure. Also, if your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings may prevent you from completing this procedure.

To install the Recovery Console as a startup option:
  1. While Windows is running, insert the Windows Server 2003 CD in the computer's CD or DVD drive.
  2. Click Start, and then click Run.
  3. In the Open box, type the following line, where drive is the drive letter of the computer's CD drive or DVD drive that contains the Windows Server 2003 CD, and then click OK:
    drive:\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons


    To install Recovery console as a startup option for Windows Server 2003 x64 edition, type the following line:
    drive:\amd64\winnt32.exe /cmdcons
  4. Click Yes when the message appears, to install the Recovery Console.
  5. When you receive the message that states that the Recovery Console is successfully installed, click OK.
  6. To use the Recovery Console, restart the computer, and then use the ARROW keys to select Microsoft Windows Recovery Console in the Please select the operating system to start list.

How to Remove the Recovery Console

As a precaution, do not remove the Recovery Console. However, if you want to remove the Recovery Console, you must do so manually.

To remove the Recovery Console, follow these steps:
  1. Restart the computer.
  2. Click Start, and then click My Computer.
  3. Turn on the Show hidden files and folders option (if it is not already turned on). To do so, follow these steps:
    1. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options.
    2. Click the View tab.
    3. Click Show hidden files and folders, click to clear the Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) check box (if it is selected), and then click OK.
  4. Double-click the drive letter that represents the hard disk on which you installed the Recovery Console.
  5. Delete the Cmdcons folder from the root folder, and then delete the Cmldr file. To do so, follow these steps:
    1. Right-click Cmdcons, and then click Delete. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen, and then click Yes to confirm the deletion.
    2. Right-click Cmldr, and then click Delete. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen, and then click Yes to confirm the deletion.
  6. Remove the Recovery Console entry from the Boot.ini file. To do so, follow these steps.

    WARNING: Incorrectly modifying the Boot.ini file may prevent your computer from restarting. Make sure that you delete only the entry for the Recovery Console.
    1. At the root folder, right-click the Boot.ini file, and then click Properties. Click to clear the Read-only check box, and then click OK.
    2. Open the Boot.ini file in Notepad.
    3. Locate the Recovery Console entry, and then delete it. The Recovery Console entry looks similar to the following line:
      C:\cmdcons\bootsect.dat="Microsoft Windows Recovery Console" /cmdcons
    4. On the File menu, click Save, and then click Exit to quit Notepad.
  7. Change the attribute for the Boot.ini file back to Read-only. To do so, right-click Boot.ini, and then click Properties. Click to select the Read-only check box, and then click OK.

MORE INFORMATION

For additional information about how to use the Recovery Console, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
326215 How To Use the Recovery Console on a Windows Server 2003-Based Computer

Properties

Article ID: 326215 - Last Review: July 8, 2008 - Revision: 9.1
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Web Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, 64-Bit Datacenter Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition
Keywords: 
kbmgmtservices kbenv kbhowtomaster KB326215

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