Recovery Console overview

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

Recovery Console overview

If Safe Mode and other startup options do not work, consider using the Recovery Console. This method is recommended only 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 the Recovery Console.

Using the Recovery Console, you can enable and disable services, format drives, read and write data on a local drive (including drives formatted to use NTFS), and perform many other administrative tasks. The 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 drive, or if you need to reconfigure a service that is preventing your computer from starting properly.


  • Physical access to a server is a high security risk. To maintain a more secure environment, you must restrict physical access to all servers and network hardware.

There are two ways to start the Recovery Console:

  • If you are unable to start your computer, you can run the Recovery Console from your Setup CD.

  • As an alternative, you can install the Recovery Console on your computer to make it available in case you are unable to restart Windows. You can then select the Recovery Console option from the list of available operating systems on when you start your computer. You cannot install the Recovery Console on an Itanium-based computer.

After you start the Recovery Console, you will have to choose which installation you want to log on to (if you have a dual-boot or multiple-boot system), and you will have to log on with the password for the built in administrator account for that installation.

The console provides commands you can use to do simple operations such as changing to a different directory or viewing a directory, as well as more powerful operations such as fixing the boot sector. You can access Help for the commands in the Recovery Console by typing help at the Recovery Console command prompt.

For more information about securing your computer, see Best practices for security.


  • Installation of the Recovery Console provides an alternate method for logging on to the computer. This could potentially provide a method for an intruder to gain access to the computer by circumventing many of the built-in safeguards. Consider the potential security effects before installing the Recovery Console.