Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE)

Windows RE (Windows Recovery Environment) is a Windows operating system tool for fixing problems with loading the operating system, fixing serious problems with the OS. After booting into WinRE on the computer, the user will have access to the recovery environment tools that will help solve the problems that have arisen.

The system recovery environment, in many cases, will help the user solve the problems that have arisen on the computer. Especially, this applies to cases when the performance of Windows is disrupted, or the operating system cannot be loaded onto the PC.

Windows RE is based on Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE). The Windows Recovery Environment is included with the operating system distribution.

The Windows RE recovery environment is loaded into the computer’s RAM. The user solves the problems that have arisen: starts the Windows recovery process, restores startup, fixes problems with the system bootloader, checks RAM, makes changes to the registry using the command line, etc.

How to start Windows Recovery Environment

You can enter the WinRE recovery environment from a running operating system, or by booting from a specially created bootable media: a USB flash drive or a CD / DVD disk.

In the first case, the user will enter the recovery environment from Windows. In the second case, you must first create a Windows Recovery Disk, or have a bootable USB flash drive or a Windows installation DVD.

If the system cannot boot, you will not be able to log into Windows RE in the first way. Therefore, just in case, I recommend having a USB flash drive or disk with Windows, from which you can always boot on your computer, and then enter the WinRE recovery environment.

The difference between the Recovery Drive and the Windows installation media is that the Recovery Drive contains only the Windows RE recovery environment tools, while the optical disc or bootable flash drive contains an operating system image that includes WinRE.

After booting on the computer from the Windows Recovery Disk, only the system recovery environment will become available, and from the installation DVD or bootable Windows flash drive, in addition to entering the recovery environment, you can install the operating system on the PC.

To create a Recovery Disk, a small flash drive, CD or DVD is suitable. To create a bootable Windows USB flash drive, you need to use a larger USB flash drive, and to boot the system image from the drive, you need a DVD.

There are a large number of articles on my site that talk about different ways to create bootable flash drives, and how you can burn an installation DVD.

In the instructions, you will find information about starting and using the recovery environment in Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7 operating systems.

Windows 10 Recovery Environment – Run WinRE from a running system

First, let’s look at starting the Windows 10 Recovery Environment from a running operating system.

1 way:

  1. Enter the Start menu, launch the Settings app.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Open the “Recovery” section, in the “Special boot options” option, click on the “Restart now” button.

2 way:

  1. Right-click on the Start menu and then press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard.
  2. Select “Shut down or log out” first, and then “Restart”.

3 way:

  1. Launch Command Prompt.
  2. In the command line interpreter window, type the command, and then press “Enter”:
shutdown /r /o /t0

After rebooting, the following steps will follow:

  1. After restarting the computer, the “Select Action” window will open. Click on the “Troubleshooting” button.
  2. In the “Diagnostics” window, click on “Advanced Options”.
  3. The Advanced Options window displays the main components of the Windows RE Recovery Environment:
  • System Restore – Restore Windows using restore points.
  • Uninstall updates – Remove installed system updates and patches from Windows.
  • System Image Recovery – Restore Windows using a pre-created system image.
  • Boot Repair – Repair the Windows bootloader.
  • Command Prompt – Launches a command prompt for problem solving and troubleshooting.
  • UEFI Firmware Settings – Access BIOS UEFI settings.
Restoring Windows to a previous working state will be possible if you have previously created system restore points or a system backup image. UEFI firmware options are visible on modern UEFI PCs, older BIOS PCs will not have this option.

Click on the “View more recovery options” link to access other tools:

  • Boot Options – Set Windows boot options.

Select the appropriate option to perform the required actions.

Entering the recovery environment in Windows 10 from bootable media

This method is used when, due to a Windows failure, the operating system on the computer does not load.

  1. In the first window of the Windows 10 setup program, click on the “Next” button.
  2. In the next window, click on System Restore.
  3. In the Select Action window, click on Troubleshooting.
  4. The “Advanced Options” window will open, in which you will see the options for the Windows RE Recovery Environment.
  • System Restore.
  • Revert to a previous version.
  • Restoring a system image.
  • Boot recovery.
  • Command line.
  • UEFI firmware settings.

Windows 8.1 Recovery Environment (Windows 8) – Hard Drive Boot

In Windows 8.1 or Windows 8 operating systems, starting the recovery environment is almost the same as in Windows 10.

1 way:

Windows 8.1 has a Start menu from which you can launch the Recovery Environment:

  1. Hold down the Shift key and then right-click on the Start menu.
  2. Select “Shut down or log out” and then click on “Restart”.

2 way:

  1. Move the mouse cursor to the right edge of the screen.
  2. Press the “Shift” key, select “Options”.
  3. In the “Options” menu, click on the “Shutdown” button.
  4. Select “Reboot” from the menu that opens.

3 way:

Start a command prompt and then run the command:

shutdown /r /o /t0

After rebooting the PC, enter the WinRE recovery environment:

  1. In the Select Action window, select Diagnostics.
  2. In the “Diagnostics” window, click on “Advanced Options”.
  3. The Advanced Options window will open the Windows RE tools:
  • System Restore.
  • Restoring a system image.
  • Boot recovery.
  • Command line.
  • UEFI firmware settings (this option is not available on computers with older BIOS).
  • Download options.

Now you can begin to perform the necessary actions.

Starting the Windows 8.1 Recovery Environment (Windows 8) from a USB Flash Drive or CD/DVD

Prepare bootable media in advance: a bootable USB flash drive with an operating system, a Windows installation DVD, or a Recovery Disc.

  1. Boot your computer from a flash drive or optical disc.
  2. In the Windows setup window, click on the “Next” button.
  3. In the lower left corner, select System Restore.

This will open the Windows RE login window.

Windows 7 Recovery Environment – Hard Drive Boot

Immediately after starting a computer with the Windows 7 operating system, you must press the “F8” key to access additional boot options.

By default, “Troubleshoot your computer” is selected. To enter the system recovery tools, press the “Enter” key.

In the window that opens, select the language and keyboard layout. In the next window, you need to select an account name and enter the password for the account.

If you are logging into your account without a password, leave the field blank.

This will open the System Recovery Options window, which contains the following tools:

  • Startup Repair is an automatic solution to Windows startup problems.
  • System Restore – Restore Windows using previously created restore points.
  • System Image Recovery – Restore using a previously created Windows image.
  • Windows Memory Diagnostics – checks the computer’s RAM for errors.
  • Command Prompt – Launches a command prompt window.

Booting Windows RE into Windows 7 from a recovery disk, installation disk, bootable USB flash drive

The next way to boot WinRE is to boot the recovery environment from external media.

  1. Boot from a bootable Windows flash drive, installation disc, or Recovery Drive.
  2. In the first Install Windows window, click on the Next button.
  3. In the next window, click on the “System Restore” link.
  4. The “System Recovery Options” window will open, you need to select the operating system, and then click on the “Next” button.

This will open the Windows RE Recovery Tool window.

Command line in Windows RE

The command line in WinRE is the main tool used to troubleshoot problems that have arisen in the operation of the operating system. In the command line interpreter window, commands are executed, applications are launched.

Accessing Files on Computer Drives from the Windows RE Recovery Environment

The user can access files on computer disks from WinRE, for example, to copy files to an external device (flash drive).

  1. In the Windows Recovery Environment, launch a command prompt.
  2. Run the following command to launch Notepad:
  1. In the Notepad program window, in the “File” menu, select “Open …”.
  2. For Files of type, select All Files.
  3. Click on “This PC” to access your computer’s disks.
There is no direct access to files in libraries: Documents, Videos, Pictures, Downloads, Music, etc. Open these folders directly from the system disk, from the user profile.

Article Conclusions

The Windows RE recovery environment is designed to perform work to restore the normal functioning of the operating system in the event of a problem. WinRE has tools for restoring the system from a backup or using restore points, for boot repair, changing boot options, command line for advanced troubleshooting.

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