Windows recovery environment explained

The Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) is a companion operating system installed alongside Windows 10, typically in a separate partition, that can help with troubleshooting, recovery, or booting from external truyền thông media, such as a USB stick. WinRE is also used during the Windows update process khổng lồ apply updates in specific paths or phases. (This process is sometimes referred to lớn as SafeOS.)In this post, we"re going khổng lồ walk you through the tools in WinRE, offer tips and tricks for using it effectively, và, while we"re at it, clear up common misconceptions around WinRE. We’ll also show how WinRE can enable a Windows 10 device that might have sầu issues starting or applying the latest updates, get bachồng lớn a good state.An overview of WinREWhen talking khổng lồ IT pros, enthusiasts, and other dhlamnghiep.org employees, I like to lớn refer khổng lồ WinRE as the “xanh screen of life.” Some agree with me out of politeness, but I believe the phrase resonates with many people because, at the end of the day, WinRE is typically used khổng lồ fix something.WinRE is almost always located in a separate partition that immediately follows the main Windows partition. (For more details on the default partition layout for UEFI-based PCs, see our partition layout documentation.)If you are familiar with Windows PE (WinPE), this may sound similar. Think of WinPE as the base OS & WinRE as the user interface with some recovery tools added.When you launch WinRE, you may see these options: Continue (exit WinRE & continue to Windows 10), Use a device (use a USB drive, network connection, or Windows recovery DVD), Troubleshoot (remix your PC or use advanced options), and Turn off your PC.

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Figure 1. Initial WinRE thực đơn optionsAccessing WinREYou can access WinRE via multiple entry points:From the Start thực đơn, select Power nguồn then select & hold down the Shift key while selectingRestart.In Windows10, selectStart>Settings>Update & Security>Recovery. UnderAdvanced startup, select Restart now.By booting to recovery truyền thông.Note: an easy way lớn create recovery truyền thông media is khổng lồ use the Media Creation Tool or khổng lồ create a recovery drive sầu and unkiểm tra the Back up system files lớn the recovery drive option.Ahardware recovery button (or button combination)configured by the OEM.Here are two lesser-known ways to lớn access WinRE:Use REAgentC. From Windows 10, run a command prompt as an administrator, then type reagentc /boottore. Restart the device và it will load WinRE instead of Windows 10.The shutdown comm& also has an entry point for WinRE. Run comm& prompt as an administrator và type shutdown /r /o.Okay, so now that you’re in WinRE, what can you do?Depending on how you started WinRE, the options may differ. For example, if you boot from a USB stick, the Reset this PC option does not appear. You can continue lớn Windows 10 or turn off your PC.If the options presented are not desired, select Continue lớn start Windows 10. Likewise, the Turn off your PC option will shut down the device. If you have sầu multiple operating systems installed, this would also be where you could select which OS lớn boot.Use a deviceThis option helps you boot from another source such as USB, DVD, or even a network connection. This can be helpful as it is simpler than some BIOS/Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) menus & provides a consistent experience.TroubleshootWinRE has many troubleshooting tools khổng lồ help you get devices back khổng lồ a good state quickly and easily. For more information, see Use WinRE khổng lồ troubleshoot common startup issues.Now, let’s explore the options available in the Troubleshoot category.Rephối this PCResetting a PC reinstalls Windows 10, but lets you choose whether to lớn keep your files or remove sầu them before reinstalling Windows. Reset this PC is the most popular option và offers a few options. (You can also access Reset this PC from the Settings thực đơn if you can successfully start Windows 10.) For more information on Remix this PC, see Recovery options in Windows 10. I"ll also dive deeper inkhổng lồ Reset this PC in future posts, so stay tuned!
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Figure 2. The Advanced options menuStartup RepairIf Windows fails khổng lồ start twice, the third attempt will run Startup Repair automatically. This is also available as an option on the advanced options page of troubleshooting. Startup Repair can help fix a corrupt master boot record (MBR), partition table, or boot sector. Beginning with Windows 10, version 1809, automatic Startup Repair also removes the most recently installed update if that installation immediately preceded the startup failure.Startup SettingsAnother troubleshooting step is khổng lồ change how Windows starts up. Enabling debugging or boot logging can help identify a specific issue. This is also where you can enable Safe Mode. Check out the support page on Startup Settings for more information.Commvà PromptWhile not the most approachable tool for unfamiliar users, the comm& prompt is the most powerful and dynamic tool in WinRE. It can bởi vì everything from registry edits to lớn copying files lớn running Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) commands. Next, we’ll cover a few notable examples. (lưu ý that while using Command Prompt in WinRE, it automatically runs with elevated administrator permissions.)Copying filesIf you need to copy a few files from your device before reinstalling Windows, using a USB drive sầu or network nội dung can be a quick way khổng lồ vì this using the commvà prompt within WinRE.There is also a popular Notepad trick that makes it easier khổng lồ copy files. I love sầu it và wish I could take credit as it a big timesaver for visual people like me. !ChkdskRunning chkdsk is a comtháng first step to help resolve issues. This process checks the tệp tin system and file system metadata of a volume for logical and physical errors. (While in WinRE, drive letters may be assigned differently than in Windows 10. You can run BCDEdit to get the correct drive letters.)SFCSFC scans & verifies the integrity of all protected system files & replaces incorrect versions with correct versions. If this comm& discovers that a protected file has been overwritten, it retrieves the correct version of the tệp tin, & then replaces the incorrect file.Repair corrupt components using DISMWindows system components may become corrupt from hard drive sầu malfunctions or update issues. If you have a wired ethernet connection, you can turn on networking lớn then scan và repair corrupted content using Windows Update and the /Cleanup-Image switch in DISM.From the commvà prompt, type wpeinit và Enter to lớn turn on the networking stack then type the following command:

dism /image:c: /cleanup-image /restorehealth

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Figure 3. Using DISM within the comm& prompt in WinRERegistry EditorYes, you can use regedit within Windows RE, but warning: this is a powerful tool that can really mess things up if not used correctly! Keep in mind the X: drive is the WinRE OS và has its own registry. C: is likely where the Windows 10 registry is.
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Figure 4. Launching the Registry Editor from the commvà prompt in WinREUninstall UpdatesRemoving the lakiểm tra updates recently installed to lớn Windows 10 can be a good troubleshooting step if you are having trouble starting your PC or if you are having trouble uninstalling something within Windows 10. Simply select Uninstall lachạy thử chất lượng update or Uninstall lademo feature update khổng lồ uninstall the desired update from WinRE with just a couple of steps. Please note; however, that you should reapply the lachạy thử updates as soon as possible to help keep your devices protected & productive sầu.

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Figure 5. The Uninstall Updates menuUEFI Firmware SettingsThis option makes it easy khổng lồ boot inkhổng lồ the UEFI menu to change firmware settings, especially as the many different devices offered by OEMs use different keyboard or button combinations to lớn access UEFI. For example, some use volume buttons, function keys, the delete key, or a combination therein. WinRE provides a consistent method for accessing UEFI firmware settings across all devices.System Restore and System Image RecoveryThese two options can be useful if you are using legacy system restore features or image-based recovery. The System Restore option can restore your PC to a previous restore point which, for example, could unbởi the lademo win32 application installation if you captured a restore point prior to the installation.Recovery DriveCreating a recovery drive is a built-in Windows ability that can easily create a USB drive with WinRE. Optionally, it can also “bachồng up system files khổng lồ the recovery drive sầu,” a process that takes a while but will fully reinstall Windows onlớn that same system even if the hard drive is blank. This is often referred lớn as Bare Metal Recovery (BMR). When starting your system from a Recovery Drive sầu, you will notice that is uses WinRE khổng lồ perkhung the recovery. You will need khổng lồ piông xã your language first & there will then be an option on the first screen lớn “Recover from a drive sầu.”Managing WinREWinRE can help devices recover baông chồng khổng lồ Windows, but, if needed, it can be disabled by opening an elevated command prompt and using the reagentc /disable comm&. By disabling WinRE, however, some Windows 10 features may not work, including many outlined in this blog post. Additionally, WinRE will be re-enabled after a feature update is installed as it is a critical part of the update process.Permission and authenticationIf you are a Windows Insider taking flights, you may have sầu seen a behavior change on Windows 10 Insider Previews Build 19536 & later, where the default authentication requirements for WinRE are different. Previously, most tools & actions required local admin credentials but were not able to lớn use modern credentials lượt thích Windows Hello (face, PIN, fingerprint). This became a big problem with passwordless accounts and Azure Active Directory accounts that weren’t backed up with a local admin account. To address this, we changed the mặc định behavior khổng lồ no longer require local administrator authentication to access WinRE tools.If you manage devices using thiết bị di động device management (MDM) solutions such as dhlamnghiep.org Endpoint Manager, you can configure the Security/RecoveryEnvironmentAuthentication policy if you would lượt thích to require local administrator authentication to lớn use WinRE components.Other interesting thingsBooting inlớn RAMWinRE can be installed in the same partition as Windows, but it is usually installed in the Recovery or WinRE tools partition. Regardless of where it is installed, it always runs in the RAM (or RAM disk boot) và is assigned the X: drive sầu. This is important khổng lồ note because any changes you make khổng lồ X: will not be saved after a reboot.BitLockerDepending on the combination of your entry points to lớn WinRE, how BitLocker is configured (auto-unlock), và what WinRE option you select, you may be prompted for the BitLocker recovery key khổng lồ unlock your Windows partition. As an example, when launching a commvà prompt, you will be prompted to unlock BitLocker. If you skip the unloông xã process, the Windows installation drive will remain locked, but you will have access to the X: drive sầu, where WinRE runs in RAM.BootIM.exeOne potentially confusing thing about WinRE is the implementation of BootIM.exe cộ. Most won’t see a difference, but I want to explain how this works. When using the entry point from the lock/login screen và holding the Shift key or Settings > Advanced Startup, Windows 10 is not rebooting inlớn WinRE. Instead, it is entering pre-shutdown and showing the BootIM screen which looks exactly like WinRE. If you select an option that needs to lớn change the boot flag lượt thích Use a device, it saves you one restart because you don"t have sầu khổng lồ start WinRE khổng lồ then restart the system again using a device.You can see this functionality by running BootIM.exe pháo from an elevated command prompt, but a quiông chồng tip is lớn open Task Manager beforehand so you can easily use the Alt + Tab combination and kết thúc the task when you are done. If you are a Windows Insider taking flights, you will see a behavior change beginning with Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 19577 khổng lồ enable greater accessibility within this experience. As the pre-shutdown behavior doesn’t tư vấn Narrator or other accessibility features, BootIM will only be used if WinRE isn’t available. Otherwise, the system will restart directly khổng lồ WinRE & skip BootIM.Partition layoutPrior to lớn Windows 10, the recommended partition layout was lớn place the recovery partition before the OS partition. Unfortunately, this made it difficult lớn update WinRE. For Windows 10, we updated the recommendation khổng lồ always menu WinRE immediately after the OS partition. Depending on how Windows was originally installed, your partitions may not have this layout.Even with the updated recommendation, OEMs have sầu the flexibility lớn choose a different partition layout for specific solutions. When installing from USB, the legacy layout was still being used by some partners until it was formally updated in Windows 10, version 20H1. For example, in this screenshot from a newer máy tính xách tay, the OEM put an Recovery Partition where it needs to go, last in line.
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Figure 6. A Disk Management partition layout exampleRecovery partition labelingThe WinRE partition can have any volume label or no label, but the most common labels are WinRE tools, WinRE, or Recovery. The label is subject to lớn change upon update. The status could also say OEM Partition or Recovery Partition.The WinRE partition shouldn’t have a drive letter assigned & any folders or files should not be available for editing. A common misunderstanding is that the recovery partition contains a compressed copy of Windows and that this copy is what is restored during the reset process. This is not the case. This partition only contains WinRE và drivers. The kích cỡ can vary depending on how it was configured by the OEM (e.g., what languages and drivers were included).

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Figure 7. An example of labels within the Disk Management partitionConclusionIn closing, I hope this information has been helpful and helps provide greater understanding about WinRE. As we continue khổng lồ improve, we are always interested in your ideas and feedbachồng, và ask that you please giới thiệu them in Feedbaông xã Hub (Advanced startup category that includes WinRE).If you have sầu ideas or requests on other aspects of recovery you’d like us to lớn mô tả, please let us know in the comments section below.

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