Windows Recovery Environment, also known as WinRE and less often WRE, is a simplified companion operating system to the primary Windows OS. It’s basically a simple OS equipped with multiple system recovery tools that help users recognize and solve major problems related to Windows 10 and 11 nowadays. In this article, we will elaborate on what Windows Recovery Environment is and describe the functions of some of its widely used recovery tools. Let’s dig in.
Brief Introduction to Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE)
Windows Recovery Environment WinRE is located in a different partition right beside the main Windows one. You can either launch WinRE manually, or your system can automatically start it if necessary. Here are a few examples that might cause an automatic initiation of WinRE:
- Computer fails to boot two consecutive times
- BitLocker error
- Computer restarts right after it boots
- Windows PC shuts down right after the boot two times in a row
The Windows Recovery Environment interface can be easily customized. You can either use Windows Imaging API or the DISM API (Deployment Image Servicing and Management Application Programming Interface) to add new device drivers. You may also integrate diagnostic tools and even new languages. However, there is a limit to how many new packages and drivers you can add to WinRE. This is usually determined by the total amount of memory of your computer. Therefore, even if you choose to make changes to WinRE, we advise you to add as few drivers and packages as possible.
Tools Windows Recovery Environment Includes
Once your Windows computer enters Windows Recovery Environment, you can use several of its tools to rescue your system and get it running again. Therefore, let’s talk about the tools available in WinRE and what they can do:
The Startup Repair tool is available in the Advanced Options menu. WinRE automatically launches it if the Windows OS is having trouble booting up. This tool automatically scans your whole system to find issues related to the booting problem. Once it does, it fixes them without any additional command from the user. To fix the concerns, this tool can recover your MBR (Master Boot Record), fix partition tables, and even uninstall new system updates that might cause boot issues.
Reset This PC
If your PC is facing difficulties that standard troubleshooting methods cannot fix, you can use this tool. Reset This PC literally resets your entire computer and reverts it to its default settings. However, during the process, the system will ask you if you want to keep your files or delete them all. You can select the option that suits you the best before continue the resetting process.
Command Prompt, without a doubt, is one of the most useful tools in Windows Recovery Environment. You can use the command prompt to run several built-in troubleshooting tools such as the SFC, DISM, CHKDSK, and several more utility tools. You can also use it to complete complex tasks like repairing Windows Registry edits.
Startup Settings changes default boot settings to solve the startup issues. For example, you can use this tool to boot into Safe Mode, which lets you boot into your system with the minimum number of drivers and functionalities. This helps you figure out which software is causing booting issues.
Although every update comes with new bug fixes, sometimes, these very updates might have a harmful bug that might cause minor or major problems for your computer. Ergo, when you face such problematic updates, you can use Uninstall Updates from WinRE to uninstall them swiftly. This, in most cases, resolves the issue.
Whenever your computer goes through an important operation, it registers the current working state of the system right before new changes take place. This registry event of a working state before any major change is called Restore Point. Your Windows PC creates these points to make sure that you can revert your system back to any of them. With that, you can remove any apps or errors that might cause concerns after a major change. System Restore tool from WinRE can use these restore points to revert your PC back to the working state of any recorded restore points.
UEFI Firmware Settings
Different devices can use varying ways to get access to their firmware settings. However, using the UEFI firmware settings option in Windows Recovery Environment, you can get access to these settings anytime you want. As a result, no matter which Windows device you use, you can use this tool to gain access to firmware settings. With that, you can say goodbye to the days when you had to figure out how to enter the firmware settings every time you change devices.
Difference Between Windows 10 and 11 Windows Recovery Environment
Windows 11 WinRE comes with a few extra tweaks and upgrades to make it work better than the Windows 10 one. For example, in Windows 11, you can enter it even without accessing the administrator account. This was impossible in Windows 10. However, entering WinRE without accessing the admin account first limits its usefulness as the encrypted files might not be accessible. Moreover, WinRE for Windows 11 OS grants you access to the Ease of Access features. You can employ it through a keyboard shortcut.
Booting into Windows Recovery Environment
As we +mentioned before, your computer will automatically launch Windows Recovery Environment when you face a major problem while using your computer. However, you can access WinRE manually too. However, before you try to do so, you have to ensure that the manual access feature is enabled. Because if it’s not, no matter which manual method you try to use to access WinRE, it won’t work. Here’s how you can make sure that the manual access to WinRE is turned on, and enable it if it’s disabled:
- Click on the “Search” icon and type “cmd.”
- Once the “Command Prompt” option appears, click on the “Run as administrator” option on the right panel. This will open the Command Prompt window.
- Now, type the “reagentc /info” command and press the “Enter” key.
- Once the execution of the command is complete, the basic data on Windows Recovery Environment will appear. Here, check the “Windows RE status:” line. If it says that it’s “Enabled,” it means you can access WinRE manually.
- However, if it’s disabled, type the “reagentc /enable” command and press the “Enter” key.
That’s it; after the line “REAGENTC.EXE Operation Successful” appears, users can be sure they can now manually enter WinRE on their computers.