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Paul's Windows XP Recovery Console Installation FAQ

Last Updated: March, 2007

This FAQ is for installing the Windows XP recovery console. Once it is installed, how you use it is up to you.

Basically, in attempting to install the recovery console on my brand-new Gateway Laptop (NX570 version), I encountered almost every possible error. It took two days, but I finally was able to get it to work.

I hope you find this FAQ useful. If you do, please let me know.

Q: How do I get to a recovery console if my machine is crashed and won't boot?

Q: My Windows Setup CD does not give me the option to go to the recovery console. Where is it?

Q: How can I get to the Windows Recovery Console without an official Windows Setup CD?

Q: I'm trying to boot into the Recovery Console using XP Setup Disks, but now it tells me "Setup did not find any hard disk drives in your computer." But I know that I have a hard drive connected. What's the deal?

Q: Where can I find drivers for my hard disk controller? How can I tell what kind of hard disk controller I have?

Q: I have a working Windows XP system. How can I install the recovery console on the hard disk drive?

Q: When I install the Windows XP recovery console, according to the instructions from Microsoft, it tells me that "BIOSINFO.INF" is missing (Error 14). Where do I get that file?

Q: Whenever I try and use the recovery console (the one installed on my hard drive), I get a blue screen error. What can I do?

Q: How do I get to a recovery console if my machine is crashed and won't boot?

Boot your computer from CD-ROM, using the Windows Installation/Setup disk which you purchase when you bought your computer, or the operating system. After setup has churned for a while, it should give you the option of entering the recovery console (by pressing 'R').

If this does not work, then keep reading...

Q: My Windows Setup CD does not give me the option to go to the recovery console. Where is it?

Apparently, some OEM manufacturers are no longer providing actual Windows Setup CD's. Instead, they provide "Recovery" CD's, which allow you to re-install the operating system fresh. This means that you can't get to the recovery console from the Operating System CD shipped with your system.

Q: How can I get to the Windows Recovery Console without an official Windows Setup CD?

Do you (or anyone you know) have a USB floppy drive? Even an old one? Chances are you can get to the recovery console using floppies. Use the following steps:
  1. Download the Windows XP Setup Floppies from Microsoft. Use this link: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310994/en-us . Download the boot disks and copy them on to floppies.
  2. Plug a USB floppy drive into your computer and boot from the floppy. Usually, just the presence of the drive (with the floppy installed) is enough to boot from floppy, but you may have to go into your computers BIOS Setup to choose a floppy boot.
  3. After laboriously inserting all 6 floppy disks and watching them load, you will eventually be taken to a page where you can press "R" to get to the recovery console. Press "R".
  4. You're in!

Q: I'm trying to boot into the Recovery Console using XP Setup Disks, but now it tells me "Setup did not find any hard disk drives in your computer." But I know that I have a hard drive connected. What's the deal?

The problem is that your hard drive requires a special driver which is not provided with the standard Windows XP Setup disk.

So, you will need to find your Hard Disk driver somewhere on the internet, install it to a floppy, and then have it handy when needed. See below for how to find out what kind of hard disk controller you have (and how to get the drivers).

Once you have your hard disk drivers on floppy, you can use the Windows XP Setup disks to boot into the recovery console. After inserting the first floppy, you will see a message at the bottom of the screen:

"Press F6 if you need to install a third party SCSI or RAID driver..."
When you see this message, hit F6. And then *don't panic*. The setup process will not recognize that you've hit F6 for a while.

So then, much later, around floppy disk #4, you will be prompted for the following:

"Setup could not determine the type of one or more mass storage devices installed in your system, or you have chosen to manually specify an adapter."

You will be given the option "To specify additional SCSI adapters... or special disk controllers..." Press 'S' to select this option.

You will then be given a list of hard disk drivers to install. Warning: The list will only show the first four drivers, even though there may be more than 4. If this is the case, simply use the arrow keys to scroll down through the list until you find your exact hard disk controller driver. Then select it with Enter.

Once you have specified the correct hard disk controller driver, Windows XP Setup should be able to view your hard drives and then you will get the opportunity to enter the recovery console.

Q: Where can I find drivers for my hard disk controller? How can I tell what kind of hard disk controller I have?

If you have a (somewhat) working system, you can find your Hard Drive controller/driver through the control panel. Go to: Start Menu, Control Panel, (Classic View), System, Click on the "Hardware" Tab, Click on "Device Manager...", the Hard-Drive control (may be called something like "IDE ATA/ATAPI controller"), double click on the controller icon, and go to the "Driver" tab. This should tell you the name of your hard drive controller manufacturer, and the controller model number. Copy all of the information down, go to the manufacturer, and look for the controller driver on their web site, and then copy the driver onto a floppy.

Typical drivers have a bunch of files in them, some ending in ".inf". Mine has the following: iaahci.cat, iaahci.inf, iastor.cat, iastor.inf, iastor.sys, license.txt, readme.txt, and txtsetup.oem .

As far as I can tell, you can *not* put your driver on a CD-ROM. Windows XP will only accept hard disk controller drivers stored on floppies.

If you don't have a working system, you may have to call your computer manufacturer, give them your serial number, and then ask them where you can get the hard disk controller drivers. Or, maybe this is available on your manufacturer's web site.

Q: I have a working Windows XP system. How can I install the recovery console on the hard disk drive?

See this knowledge base document from Microsoft, and follow the instructions.

Q: When I install the Windows XP recovery console, according to the instructions from Microsoft, it tells me that "BIOSINFO.INF" is missing (Error 14). Where do I get that file?

This happened to me too. This is the error I got:

"File: \minint\system32\biosinfo.inf could not be loaded Error Code 14..."
So, I created a "\minint\system32" directory on my C drive, copied a biosinfo.inf file into it, and tried again. Unfortunately, I next got the following error:

"File: \minint\system32\ntkrnlmp.exe could not be loaded ..."

What gives?

Well, the Microsoft instructions tell you to install the recovery console from the Windows XP Installation CD. Unfortunately, some OEM manufacturers do not provide an "Official" Windows XP installation CD, and instead provide a recovery CD to recover your system back to the way it was shipped. This means, that the Microsoft instructions won't quite work for you.

Now, first remove your existing recovery console. Go back to this knowledge base document for instructions on how to remove it (basically, you remove a line from your C:\boot.ini file and delete the c:\cmdcons directory).

Next, I found these alternative instructions from Gateway to be helpful. Basically, instead of running "E:\winnt32.exe /cmdcons" from your Startup CD, run it from your hard disk instead. For example:

In the Run dialog box, in the Open text box, type: C:\WINDOWS\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons, and then click OK.

This will install the console from your working system (or download it from the internet) rather than your operating system CD, which, if it came from an OEM supplier like Gateway, may be suspect.

Q: Whenever I try and use the recovery console (the one installed on my hard drive), I get a blue screen error. What can I do?

As an example, here's the error I got:

A problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to 
prevent damage to your computer.

If this is the first time you've seen this Stop error screen, 
restart your computer. If this screen appears agin, follow 
these steps:

Check for viruses on your computer. Remove any newly installed 
hard drives or hard drive controllers. Check your hard drive 
to make sure it is properly configured and terminated. 
Run CHKDSK /F to check for hard drive corruption and then 
restart your computer.

Technical information:

*** STOP: 0x0000007B (0xF78D2524, 0xC0000034, 0x00000000, 0x00000000)

Of course, you should do all of the things it recommends. For example, do a virus scan on your computer, open up a command prompt and execute the "CHKDSK /F" command (and then reboot).

However, if none of this works, it may be that your recovery console is not using the correct hard disk controller for your system.

Start by getting a floppy disk of your hard disk controller driver (see question above for hints about how to figure out what hard disk controller you have and how to get the driver).

Then, when you start up the recovery console from the boot menu, you should see the following message at the bottom of your screen:

"Press F6 if you need to install a third party SCSI or RAID driver..."

Yes, this is the same message you would get if you were to try booting your system from the Windows XP setup floppies.

Anyway, when you see this message, hit F6. And then *don't panic*. The recovery console setup process will not recognize that you've hit F6 for a while. Eventually, however, it will prompt you "To specify additional SCSI adapters... or special disk controllers..." Press 'S' to select this option.

You will then be given a list of hard disk drivers to install. Warning: The list will only show the first four drivers, even though there may be more than 4. If this is the case, simply use the arrow keys to scroll down through the list until you find your exact hard disk controller driver. Then select it with Enter.

Once you have specified the correct hard disk controller driver, Windows XP Setup should be able to view your hard drives and then you will get the opportunity to enter the recovery console without a blue screen this time. At least, that's how I was eventually able to solve my problem.

If you still get a blue screen, then I'm afraid you may have some other, more serious hard disk error that I am unable to help you with.