How to Start Recovery Console in Windows XP - dummies

How to Start Recovery Console in Windows XP

By Dan Gookin

One of the most useful tools for fixing problems in Windows is the Recovery Console. The Recovery Console in Windows XP is available from either the Windows installation disk or recovery disc. Here are the steps to take for starting the Recovery Console in Windows XP:

  1. Stick a Windows disc in the optical drive.

    Yes, you need a Windows installation disc to make this procedure work. The system recovery disc might also work.

  2. Restart the computer.

  3. Ensure that the system attempts to start from the Windows installation disc.

    You must boot from the optical drive; press Enter when you see the prompt Press any key to boot from optical drive (or whatever the message says).

  4. Proceed with the “installation” of Windows.

    Trust me: Just follow along with the directions on the screen. You’re not really installing Windows, but you must complete the initial steps to get where you need to go.

  5. When prompted, choose the option to start the Recovery Console.

    For example, the prompt may say to press the R key to start the Recovery Console. Do so.


  6. Select a Windows installation if prompted.

    The Windows installation may be the only one. If you fail to select a Windows installation and, for example, just press Enter, Windows cancels the operation and you have to start over.

  7. If prompted, type the administrator’s password.

    Finally, you should see the text-mode command prompt, which looks something like this:


    You’re ready to work.

  8. When you’re done, type exit to restart your computer.

    The exit command closes the Recovery Console and reboots the PC. If it doesn’t, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete to restart the computer.

The Recovery Console is a command prompt window, in Text mode. If you don’t see a console window, choose whatever option is available to present you with the command prompt window or the Recovery Console window. If you still don’t see the Text mode Recovery Console, you have to restart the computer and begin these steps again.

You should also look into starting the computer by using a recovery partition. The recovery partition might also have the Recovery Console option.