How to Get to Command Prompt on Blue Screen Failure

By Samuel Porter

The Blue Screen of Death can be one of the most frustrating symptoms of a Windows system with problems. Although it presents information that might be useful to an operating systems expert, it's not very helpful to most users. More importantly, it doesn't let you actually do anything to correct the problem--it just reports it. When you've got a system that blue screens--especially if it does so before booting up--it's important to know how to get to a command line so that you can try to fix it.

Step 1

Shut down your computer. Sometimes, while the Blue Screen is up, Windows may indicate that it is saving a memory image to disk. You should not interrupt this process if you are planning to take your computer to a specialist for help, since the memory image may help him to diagnose your problem.

Step 2

Insert the Windows installation media, and boot from it. Most computers will boot from it automatically. However, if your computer boots from the hard drive instead, you will need to change the boot priority settings in the BIOS. You may need to consult your system's reference manual for how to do this, since BIOS settings vary widely between manufacturers.

Step 3

Wait for the Windows installer to load, and follow the instructions on screen to bring up the Recovery Console. On Windows XP, you can do this by pressing "R" on the second screen of the installer. On Windows Vista and later, you can select it using the mouse.

Wait for the Recovery Console to load. You will most likely need to enter your Administrator password to gain access to the system. You can use the Recovery Console to repair almost any damage to a Windows installation.