Windows XP Recovery Console- the ultra-portables best friend

Ultra-portable computers like the Sony U-50/70 and the OQO share one trait in common- the lack of an included bootable optical drive. This can be important when suddenly you have a hard disk or operating system problem and you realize you cannot boot from the Windows XP CD to attempt some sort of recovery procedure. At this point you are dead in the water- or are you?The developers of Windows XP included a mechanism to help the distressed user diagnose and possibly repair some nasty problems, even if there is no CD drive to boot from. Unfortunately, the Windows Recovery Console is not installed by default when you install Windows XP and unless you manually install it you won’t have it when you most need it. You can run the Recovery Console from the Windows XP CD but installing it to the hard drive insures you always have it with you when you are mobile and you might not have the CD drive for troubleshooting. The Recovery Console is such a vital troubleshooting tool it is one of the first things I install on any computer and it has saved my butt several times over the years. Once the Recovery Console is installed it creates a tiny (7 MB) partition with core OS files. Booting the computer results in the appearance of a boot screen option where you can either let normal Windows XP boot (default) or select the Recovery Console. If you select to boot into the Recovery Console you end up with a DOS-like terminal with some key commands at your disposal to let you check and repair your disk, alter your boot configuration, and work with your partitions. Since the Recovery Console is its own separate boot partition you can work with your main drive without things being locked. A complete list of commands and parameters that are available from the Recovery Console can be found in the Windows XP help system under “Recovery Console”.For detailed installation instructions just continue reading below.

Here’s how you install it for some piece of mind (from the Windows XP help system):(Note you need access to a CD drive to install the files for the Recovery Console. Once it is installed you can do the troubleshooting without any CD drive connected which is perfect for the UPC on the road.)

With Windows running, insert the Setup CD into your CD-ROM drive. 1. Click Start and select Run.2. Type the following where D: is the CD-ROM drive letter:D:i386winnt32.exe /cmdcons3. Follow the instructions on the screen.NotesTo run the Recovery Console, restart your computer and select the Recovery Console option from the list of available operating systems.You must be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group in order to complete this procedure. If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings may also prevent you from completing this procedure.To see the commands available on the Recovery Console, type help at the at the console prompt.If your computer will not start, you can run the Recovery Console from the Setup CD. See Related Topics for information on running the Recovery Console when your computer will not start.

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