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.



I had trouble installing the Recovery Console on my SP2, and it didn’t do a web update either. What finally worked was using a SP2 slipstreamed XP cd.

Anyway, Kevin, perhaps there’s another way to install the files manually.
According to this page deleting the Recovery Console is a simple matter of deleting 1 folder and 1 file, and editing 1 line in boot.ini. So perhaps you can do this backwards instead, with files obtained from someone else’s PC. In fact I’ll email you mine and you can try it. I didn’t want to put my real email here, but hopefully yours works.


How do i get rid of that window coming up when i restart. I don’t want the screen where it says xp recovery console or normal xp to come up. How do i make it not come up. Can someone please tell me. I’d really appreciate it.


Hi – trouble is when you dont have the XP Home recovery CD -ROM. (it is a genuine installation, so licence sticker is on the machine)

Does anyone know where to download the WIN XP Recovery Console?


There is a way to do this.
On the system properties, on the Advanced tab, goto the Startup and Recovery settings button. Then simply uncheck the Time to display list of operating systems. You won’t see the os menu anymore; but you can still goto recovery console mode. If you want recovery console mode, you turn the machine on, and after the boot logo, press F8. You may have to practice several times to get the timing right. Personally I just hit the F8 key until the menu comes up; you can hold the key down too, but that may overload the keyboard buffer and the machine will scream at you. After you press F8, you will come to the XP Safe mode menu. At the bottom of this menu is an option to return to the OS Choices menu. Return to the OS Choices menu, and you can start recovery console from there.



Bino Jose, I don’t think you can prevent that from showing but you can configure it to only stay up a few seconds so it doesn’t get in the way. Right click on My Computer, go to the ADVANCED tab and select STARTUP AND RECOVERY. There’s two options in there to set the number of seconds to display this list.

Bino Jose

Recently during startup Windows XP shows option whether to start XP as it is or to start Windows XP recovery console. How do I let XP start without showing this option?


Dave, not that I’m aware of. What I do is set the timer in the boot.ini to 5 seconds (or less). If it’s quick enough then if you are not specifically going for it you miss it.


Can you disable the “Show Operating Systems” feature at startup but still access it in the case of a startup failure? I don’t want customers to even have the option of accidentally choosing the recovery console.


Wilson Loo- here’s how to slipstream SP2 into the process so you won’t get the error:

That means you need to slipstream in the Service Pack before it can work… Copy the I386 directory locally to your HDD (or use the copy that should be stashed up under c:Windows and run Update.exe.


Once downloaded, point the update to your installation files:

update.exe -s:”c:XPCD”

Once it is done you should be able to run winnt32 and install the recovery console.


just to make sure
only 7 mb and not gonna move every files from the install CD



When you ran the Console install program did it do a dynamic update on the internet? Mine did that first thing and then installed fine on sp2.

Wilson Loo

How do I get this to work with my Tablet PC which has been upgraded to XP Tablet PC 2005 (XP SP2 installed)? It tells me that a newer version is installed and my Internet connection is virtually connected 24/7.


Seriously, make sure you are connected to the internet as the first thing the installation does is update the installation files to match your WinXP setup.


What happens when it tells you your version of Windows is newer than the one on your CD? :-P

Comments are closed.