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2012-04-04

A+: Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE)

Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) is a set of tools included in Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, and Windows 7. It takes the place of the Recovery Console used in Windows XP/2000. Also known as System Recovery Options, WinRE’s purpose is to recover Windows from errors that prevent it from booting. There are two possible ways to access WinRE:
• Option 1—Booting to the Windows Vista DVD
• Option 2—Booting to a special partition on the hard drive that has WinRE installed
The first option is more common with an individual computer that has Windows Vista installed; for example, if you performed a clean installation with the standard Windows Vista DVD and made no modifications to it. To start WinRE, make sure that the DVD drive is first in the boot order of the BIOS, boot to the Windows Vista DVD (as if you were starting the installation), choose your language settings and click Next, and then select Repair Your Computer, which you will find at the lower-left corner of the screen.

Important! Do not select Install Now. That would begin the process of reinstalling Windows on your HD.

The second option is used by OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) so that users can access WinRE without having to search for, and boot off of, a Windows DVD. These OEMs (computer builders and system integrators) will preinstall WinRE into a special partition on the hard drive, separate from the operating system, so that the user can boot into it at any time. Compare this to the older Recovery Console that was installed into the same partition as the operating system. To access WinRE that has been preinstalled, press F8 to bring up the Advanced Boot Options menu, highlight Repair Your Computer, and press Enter. If you don’t see “Repair your computer” in the Advanced Boot Options menu, then it wasn’t installed to the hard drive, and you will have to use option 1, booting from the Vista DVD. Note that you can still use option 1 even if WinRE was installed to the hard drive; for example, in a scenario where the hard drive installation of WinRE has failed.
The process to install WinRE to the hard drive is a rather complicated one and is not covered on the A+ exam. However, if you are interested, here is a link that gives the basics of installing WinRE: http://blogs.msdn.com/winre/archive/2007/01/12/how-to-install-winre-on-the-hard-disk.aspx.
 
Regardless of which option you selected, at this point a window named “System Recovery Options” should appear, prompting you to select an operating system to repair. Most users will only have one listed. Highlight the appropriate operating system in need of repair and click Next. That will display the options at your disposal.
 

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