What Is Recovery Console?

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

What Is Recovery Console?

In this section

  • Related Information

Recovery Console is a character-mode environment that you can run from the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating system CD or install on x86-based computers as a startup option. You should use Recovery Console only when other startup options have failed to start your system.

In contrast to normal or Safe Mode, the Windows graphical user interface (GUI) is not available within Recovery Console. You should only use Recovery Console if you are an advanced user who can use basic commands to identify and locate problem drivers and files. In addition, you will need the password for the built-in Administrator account to use Recovery Console.

With Recovery Console, you can enable and disable services, format drives, read and write data on a local drive (including drives formatted to use the NTFS file system), and perform many other administrative tasks. Recovery Console is particularly useful if you need to repair your system by copying a file from a floppy disk or CD-ROM to your hard disk, or if you need to reconfigure a service that is preventing your computer from starting properly.

You can use Recovery Console to help you recover from the following problems:

  • Corrupted or deleted startup files caused by incompatible software, user error, or virus activity.

  • Disk problems related to damage to the master boot record (MBR), partition table, or boot sector on x86-based systems.

  • A partition boot sector that has been overwritten by the setup program.

If critical system files, such as Ntldr.exe or Ntoskrnl.exe, are missing or corrupted, you can restore them by starting Recovery Console and copying undamaged files from the Windows Server 2003 operating system CD or other removable disk media.

Boot sector damage can be caused by incompatible software, hardware problems, virus activity, or attempting to configure your computer as a multiple-boot system. For example, setup programs for other operating systems might not be compatible with Windows Server 2003 and might attempt to overwrite the boot sector or startup files. To prevent problems, avoid configuring multiple-boot configurations on computers running Windows Server 2003.


  • Before you install Recovery Console, you need to be aware of certain disk and file system limitations. Recovery Console is sensitive to file-system changes. If you install Recovery Console to a hard disk that uses the FAT file system, converting to the NTFS file system causes Recovery Console to stop functioning. You must reinstall Recovery Console after converting to NTFS.

The following resources contain additional information that is relevant to this section.