Windows Server Troubleshooting - Recovery Console

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The Recovery Console provides command-line access to the system. The console is started by booting to the original Windows CD or using the set of 4 setup diskettes. The setup diskettes can be made using MAKEBOOT or MAKEBT32 in the BOOTDISK folder of the CD.

A Recovery Console option can be provided at startup by running the installation command from the CD.
         i386\WINNT32 /cmdcons

By default Recovery Console only provides the following access to files.

Files Permissions
%SystemRoot% and subfolders Full access to make repairs
Cmdcons folder Full access to make repairs
Root folder Full access to make repairs
Removable media Read-only - prevents sensitive data from being copied

Four environment variables are available to control these restrictions by setting the variable to TRUE or FALSE. For example, use the command

  • SET AllowAllPaths = TRUE
Variable Description
AllowAllPaths Allows access to all folders
AllowRemovableMedia Allows copy of files to removable media
AllowWildCards Allows wildcards in commands such as del *.*
NoCopyPrompt Allows files to be copied without prompting before overwriting

Local security settings can be set to eliminate the logon requirement and to eliminate file access restrictions.

The following commands are available when you use Recovery Console. Most are familiar DOS commands.

attrib
delete
fixmbr
more
batch
dir
rd
cd
disable
help
ren
chdir
diskpart
listsvc
rename
format
chkdsk
enable
logon
rmdir
cls
exit
map
systemroot
copy
expand
md
type
del
fixboot
mkdir
set

The Recovery Console is protected by requiring the password for the local Administrator user account. The local Administrator account is stored in the SAM database rather than the Active Directory. For workstations and member servers, the Administrator password can be changed with the Computer Management Console. On domain controllers, the Local User and Groups are not accessible. If the local Administrator password is forgotten, it can only be reset by

  • Restoring the Registry from a backup, or
  • Demoting the server and then in the promotion process the Administrator password can be set.

Keyboard Exercise

Install the Recovery Console as a boot option by running the setup program from the Windows CD.

  • i386\WINNT32 /cmdcons