Using the Recovery Console
Tool: Windows XP CD, Windows Setup
The Recovery Console is a tool built into Windows which allows you to do such things as check for faults on your drive, repair the Master Boot Records (See Unmountable Boot Volume above) and so on. The quickest way to access the Recovery Console is to do the following:
1. Insert your Windows XP CD into your main CDROM drive.
2. Reboot and go into your BIOS. Set the 'First Boot Device' (or similar) option in the BIOS to CDROM. Reboot.
3. As your PC starts booting up from the CD, keep pressing the F8 key, especially when you see the message 'Booting from ATAPI CDROM', just keep pressing F8. The screen will go blank and you can stop pressing F8.
4. The Windows Setup blue screen will eventually appear. Give it time to load all the files it needs, and you'll see a set of options.
5. Press R from the Windows Setup screen to access the Recovery Console.
6. Press a number which corresponds with your Windows installation. Typically this is just 1. Enter your Admin password if required, or leave blank and press ENTER if you have no password set.
7. Once the Recovery Console opens, there are a range of commands you can use. Just type "Help" (without quotes) and a list of commands will be shown. To see the options for each command in more detail, type the command followed by "/?" (without quotes).
Note you can also install the Recovery Console so that it appears as one of the options on your boot menu. Instructions on how to do that are in this article. However this is not necessary if you use the above method. Hopefully you shouldn't need to use the Recovery Console very often, if at all!
System File Checker
Tool: System File Checker
The System File Checker is another built-in function of Windows XP that allows the system to go through and check all the major system files against the original versions stored on a valid Microsoft Windows XP CD. This is extremely handy if you suspect corrupted/tampered system files which are leading to unusual Windows behaviour. To use the System File Checker, use the following procedure:
1. Go to Start>Run and type "SFC /Scannow" without quotes to start an immediate scan of your system files.
2. The System File Checker will go through all your important system files and make sure they're as provided by Microsoft. Where files are corrupted or shown to be different from original, they'll be replaced with the originals. You will be prompted to insert your Windows XP CD to access some of the original XP files, while others (such as the SP1 files) will be accessed from your hard drive. You can skip the XP CD check, but this will likely result in a failed repair.
3. If prompted to reboot your PC, reboot as required.
Note that you can use the switches "/scanonce" (to scan after the next reboot) or "/scanboot" (to scan on every reboot) instead of "/scannow" (all without quotes of course). If you choose "/scanboot", then want to stop a scan after every reboot at some point, use the "/revert" switch.
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