Windows XP Recovery
Console Tutorial

The Windows XP Recovery Console is an option IT professionals use to fix Windows based computers that do not start up properly, or do not start up whatsoever.

This XP System Recovery option is considered suitable for advanced home computer users only.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Windows XP has gone End of Life (EOL) on April 8th 2014. This means no further security patches or updates for this Operating System!

Microsoft recently announced the continuation of advisories for newly discovered vulnerabilities, and the continuation of updates for things like Windows Defender only.

My advice is to move to Windows 7 (assuming you wish to stay on a Windows platform) as soon as possible. This version also has a Recovery Console.

I also advise not moving to Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. At the time of writing it appears this Operating System is experiencing numerous issues.

Windows 10 is to be released in 2015. After moving to Windows 7 it is worth waiting to see what Windows 10 brings before deciding to move to this latest version.


My view is usually give it a go, and I have not strayed from this. However, it depends on your knowledge of computers whether this tool is something you want to use. The decision is ultimately up to you.

This tutorial shows you how to use the Recovery Console, and:

  • What you can do first before considering this tool
  • What to do if you decide to use this tool
  • How to use the Console
  • How to install the Console onto your computer

The Console fixes a range of low level technical problems, such as a corrupted Master Boot Record (MBR) and problematic Hard Drive sectors.

Computer's can fail to start if Malware corrupts the MBR, for example. The MBR is the starting point for your computer to load your Operating System. This happens after the BIOS completes all its checks.

FIXMBR and CHKDSK are just come of the commands that are available through the Recovery Console to fix issues such as corrupted hard drive sectors.

Sectors are small 'compartments' of space, each holding a little bit of your computer's data. Combined they result in a full word document, operating system file or application. There are billions of sectors on today's hard drives.

This tutorial will take you through the steps to use the Recovery Console yourself, just like a professional.

The Table of Contents below breaks the tutorial down into sections so you can jump to the part you are interested in.

Have you used the Recovery Console before? What happened to make you use the Recovery Console? What commands did you use? What do you think of this tool?

Share your experiences! Write your own web page by completing the Recovery Console Form at the bottom of this page.

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You can also read Other Site Visitors Experiences with the Recovery Console.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. What To Do Before Considering The Recovery Console
  2. How To Access the Recovery Console
  3. How To Use It
  4. How To Install It
  5. Windows XP Recovery Console Final Thoughts


What To Do Before Considering
The XP Recovery Console

We shall discuss how to access the Windows XP Recovery Console in a moment.

Before considering the Windows XP System Recovery Tool, there are 5 things you should try first if your computer is not loading properly.

Each of the Windows Advanced Options are available by pressing the F8 key on your keyboard just after the BIOS information appears on your screen.

You have to be quick though because there is only a small window of opportunity to access the Advanced Menu. IT professionals press the F8 key repeatedly until the menu appears:



Windows XP F8 Advanced Menu Options
(Click Image To Enlarge)

Windows XP F8 Advanced Menu Options

  1. Safe Mode: Loads the minimum amount of drivers and services to start windows. This gives you a chance to troubleshoot your particular issues

  2. Safe Mode with Networking: As Safe Mode but loads required drivers to connect your computer to the Internet

  3. Safe Mode with Command Prompt: As Safe Mode only the Command Prompt window loads instead of your desktop (Start button, icons, etc.)

  4. Enable VGA Mode: Loads Windows with a basic video or graphics card driver. This is helpful if you have a problem with your display

  5. Last Known Good Configuration: Loads Windows with the configuration that last loaded your operating system successfully.

    This option is useful if you update software or device drivers that stop your computer from loading next time

Don't forget if you can load your computer, but are still having issues, to consider using the System Restore tool.

If your computer fails to load properly, or you are unable to fix the problem, your next step is to consider the Windows XP Recovery Console.

Return to the Table of Contents


How To Access The
Recovery Console

Unless you have the Windows XP Recovery Console installed on your computer (more on this later), you need your original copy of the Windows XP CD to hand.

  1. Enter the CD into your CD/DVD drive and restart your computer. You should see the screen below. Press any key you want on your keyboard.

    If your computer tries to load your operating system, you may need to amend the Boot Order by changing your BIOS settings.

    Modern computers allow you to change the boot order by pressing the F12 key or the Del key at the BIOS stage.

    Follow the on screen instructions and put your CD Drive at Number 1 in the list


  2. Windows XP Boot From CD Screen
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Windows XP Boot From CD Screen

  3. Your computer looks like it is going to install Windows XP again. However, when prompted, press the R Key on your keyboard to Repair a Windows XP installation using Recovery Console:


  4. Windows XP Recovery Console Repair Option
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Windows XP Recovery Console Repair Option

  5. Next the Recovery Console loads and identifies where your Windows Operating System is installed.

    Most home computer users have only one option here. Enter the Number 1 when prompted, then press the Return Key.

    If you have more than one instance of Windows XP installed, select the one you are having trouble with.

    You will need to know the name of the directory in which the problematic version of Windows is installed.

  6. Next enter the Administrator Password for your computer then hit the Return Key. If you are not an administrator you will not be able to continue beyond this point.

    If you never enter a password when your computers load up, you don't have an administrator password. Just hit the Return Key and this will authenticate you to access the console:

    Windows XP Recovery Console Access
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Windows XP Recovery Console Access

Return to the Table of Contents



How To Use It

The Windows XP System Console tool offers 33 commands to help with various issues you may be experiencing. I will talk you through 4 commands I use regularly when dealing with problematic computers.

  1. The first thing to do is type help then hit the return key


  2. Recovery Console Help Command
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Recovery Console Help Command

  3. A list of commands appear on screen. At the bottom of the screen you have 2 main options:

    • Enter=Scroll (Line): This means pressing the Return/Key displays the next available command in the list

    • Space=Scroll (Page): This means pressing the Space Bar displays the rest of the available commands


    At the top of the screen you have two ways to get additional help with each command:
    • Command-Name /?: For Example: DELETE /?

    • HELP Command-Name: Foe Example: HELP COPY


  4. Windows XP Recovery Console Help Options
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Console Help Options

  5. The first command we look at is CHKDSK. This command performs an initial check of your hard disk:


  6. Recovery Console CHKDSK Command
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Recovery Console CHKDSK Command

  7. If you receive the message The volume appears to be in good condition, I advise you run the chkdsk /p command anyway to check your hard drive for errors.

    I have seen the result of this scan uncover problematic hard drive sectors.


  8. Windows XP Recovery Console
    CHKDSK Command With P Switch

    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Recovery Console CHKDSK Command

  9. When you run a couple of commands the window can become quite cluttered. To clear all the writing from the screen, enter cls then press the return key:


  10. Clear Screen Command
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Clear Screen Command


    Clear Screen Command Result
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Clear Screen Command Result

  11. The Fixboot command repairs that part of your hard drive that starts the operating system loading process. If a Virus attacks the volume boot record, your computer will not load.

    To fix this type fixboot and hit the return key. You are prompted to confirm you want to write a new bootsector. Type Y and hit Enter:

    Fixboot Command
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Fixboot Command

    You then see a message on screen saying The new bootsector was successfully written:


  12. Fixboot Command Completed
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Fixboot Command Completed

  13. The Fixboot command has rescued plenty of computers for me over the years. On the occasions when this has failed, the Fixmbr command has come to the rescue.

    Type fixmbr and press Return:

    Fixmbr Command
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Fixmbr Command

    Several warnings appear on screen. Read them carefully then make a decision whether you want to go ahead or not.

    If you are unsure refer your issue to your local computer repair shop.

    If you are certain you want to continue, enter Y then press Return. A new Master Boot Record is now written to your hard drive:


  14. Fixmbr Command Completed
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Fixmbr Command Completed

Return to the Table of Contents



How To Install It

The Windows XP Recovery Console can be installed on to your computer so you have a choice whether to load it, or your Operating System. This is useful and convenient.

The final section of this tutorial shows you how to install the Windows XP System Recovery tool and tweak your startup and recovery options.

  1. Click Start > Run and type d:\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons. The drive letter should match your own CD/DVD drive letter:


  2. Windows XP Recovery Console Install Command
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Windows XP Recovery Console Install Command

  3. Click the Yes button to confirm that you want to install the Recovery Console:


  4. Install Confirmation
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Install Confirmation

  5. The Recovery Console is installed. Wait until the process is completed:


  6. Recovery Console Install Dynamic Update
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Recovery Console Install Dynamic Update

  7. Click the OK Button to confirm the installation process is complete:


  8. Recovery Console Install Success
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Recovery Console Install Success

  9. When you Restart Your Computer you are presented with a choice of install options. Use your Arrow Keys to highlight which option you want to load, then press Enter:


  10. Recovery Console Install Boot Options
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Recovery Console Install Boot Options

  11. Each time you switch on your computer, you will wait up to 30 seconds before your computer executes whatever option is highlighted. To shorten this wait time:

    Right Click the My Computer Icon on your desktop, left click Properties from the menu, then click the Advanced tab:


  12. Recovery Console System Properties
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Recovery Console System Properties

  13. Click the Settings Button under the Startup and Recovery title. You will see the Time To display... Options set to 30 Seconds:


  14. System Properties Startup And Recovery
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    System Properties Startup And Recovery

  15. Change these two settings to something that is appropriate for you. I set my computer to 5 Seconds:


  16. System Properties Startup And Recovery Amended
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    System Properties Startup And Recovery Amended

  17. The next time your start your computer, the wait time will be much shorter than before

Return to the Table of Contents



Windows XP Recovery Console
Final Thoughts

That concludes the Windows XP Recovery Console tutorial. I hope you found it useful.

Using the console can be daunting, but this site advocates do it yourself computer repair. Give it a go. Don't be surprised by what you can achieve!

I'll finish off with a couple of quick links to assist you with the recovery console:




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XP Recovery Console

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