Microsoft

Get IT Done: Master the Windows 2000 Recovery Console

Understand the Windows 2000 Recovery Console for disaster recovery


It’s quite possibly the most important task you perform. For an IT professional, the job of recovering data and rescuing systems and files is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.

The Windows 2000 Professional and Server exams (exams 70-210 and 70-215, respectively) both test MCP candidates’ ability to recover system data using the new Windows 2000 Recovery Console. The Windows 2000 Professional exam also tests the ability to recover user data using the Recovery Console.

Therefore, you better familiarize yourself with the Recovery Console. Its operation involves much more than just pressing the [F8] key during a system’s boot cycle, as you will see in this article.

Recovery Console installation
You can select the Recovery Console by holding down the [F8] key while a system boots—but you have to have it installed first. Follow these steps to install the Recovery Console:
  1. 1.      Boot the Windows 2000 system and insert the Windows 2000 CD-ROM.
  2. 2.      Close the Microsoft Windows 2000 CD screen (which will appear if autorun is enabled on the system).
  3. 3.      Open a command prompt by clicking Start | Run, typing cmd, and clicking OK.
  4. 4.      Type d:\i386\winnt32 /cmdcons. (Replace d with the drive letter for the CD-ROM drive holding the Windows 2000 CD.)
  5. 5.      When the Windows 2000 Setup dialog box asks whether you want to install the Recovery Console (which requires 7 MB of disk space), click Yes.
  6. 6.      After the necessary files have been installed, a dialog box will appear confirming that the Recovery Console was successfully installed. Click OK.

Configure recovery settings
From the System Properties applet in Control Panel, you can configure Windows 2000’s Startup and Recovery options. In addition to selecting the default operating system to be loaded, you can use the Startup And Recovery dialog box, shown in Figure A, to perform all of the following actions when a system failure occurs:
  • ·        Write an event to the system log
  • ·        Send an alert to an administrator over the network
  • ·        Automatically reboot the system
  • ·        Record debugging information
  • ·        Specify the location of the debugging dump file

From the Default Operating System drop-down list, you can elect to boot automatically from the Recovery Console. Select the “Microsoft Windows 2000 Recovery Console” /cmdcons value from the list to set the Recovery Console as the default boot mode. Most likely, the value you’ll choose from the Default Operating System list for day-to-day use will be “Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional” /fastdetect.

Figure A
The Startup And Recovery dialog box plays an important role in helping to troubleshoot and recover from system failures.


Using the Recovery Console
In Windows 2000 Professional, you execute the Recovery Console by selecting it as the boot option when a system starts. You can also boot directly to the Recovery Console, as described earlier.

When the Recovery Console opens, it lists the installed Windows operating systems and prompts you to specify which Windows installation you want to log on to. Specify the number for the installation and press [Enter]. The Recovery Console will prompt you for the Administrator password. Type it in and press [Enter]. The Recovery Console will then present a C:\WINNT> command line.

You can execute a wide variety of commands from the Recovery Console. Actions you can perform include the following:
  • ·        Disable and enable services
  • ·        Add and delete partitions
  • ·        Replace boot sectors
  • ·        Fix the master boot record
  • ·        Confirm which services are automatically started
  • ·        Specify boot drives
  • ·        Copy and delete files
  • ·        Format disks
  • ·        Rename files and folders
  • ·        Create directories

When you’re finished working in the Recovery Console, type Exit and press [Enter]. The Recovery Console will close and the system will be rebooted.

For more information on Recovery Console commands, follow these steps:
  1. 1.      Click Start | Help in Windows 2000.
  2. 2.      Click the Search tab.
  3. 3.      Type Recovery Console Commands and press [Enter] or click List Topics.
  4. 4.      Select Recovery Console Commands from the Select topic to display a list of the Recovery Console commands.

Eckel’s take
The Recovery Console offers many benefits. It’s cost of 7 MB of disk space more than pays for itself the first time you experience boot trouble.

In addition to being able to securely log on to a Windows 2000 installation, you can access any file system format supported in Windows 2000. You can also copy troubleshooting utilities, drivers, and other files from floppy disks to the hard drive or from one hard disk to another.

Being able to replace problematic drivers, kill wayward services, and repair boot sectors—in addition to the wide variety of other commands Recovery Console supports—can be a lifesaver. Knowing how to use the Recovery Console and understanding its capabilities and limitations can also help get you through a test.

It’s particularly important to remember that you can’t copy files from a hard disk to a floppy drive using the Recovery Console. Keep that in mind so you don’t get tripped up on such a question in a Windows 2000 exam.

Editor's Picks