How to start the Command Prompt when Windows does not boot

The Command Prompt is a powerful tool that can be used for many purposes, including troubleshooting and fixing problems with Windows. Starting it is easy if Windows is working correctly, but what do you do when Windows refuses to load? How do you “boot” straight to the Command Prompt (cmd.exe) so that you can fix the issues that you are having? This tutorial will show you how, in all modern versions of Windows:

 

NOTE: In this guide we cover all the modern versions of Windows, in the following order: Windows 10, Windows 7 and then Windows 8.1. Scroll down until you find the instructions for the version that interests you.

How to start the Command Prompt when Windows 10 does not boot, using an installation disc

If you have a Windows 10 setup DVD at hand, or a USB stick with the Windows 10 installation program, you can use it to start the Command Prompt

Start your computer and from the BIOS boot menu, choose the DVD drive or the removable drive where you have the Windows 10 setup, as the boot device. Do not boot from your computer’s hard drive, like you used to before.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

Load the Windows Setup and choose the language and keyboard that you want to use. Then, press Next.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

Do not choose to install Windows 10. Instead, click or tap “Repair your computer.”

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

You are asked to choose an option on how to continue. Choose Troubleshoot.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

You are shown several advanced options. Here, click or tap Command Prompt.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

The Command Prompt (cmd.exe) is loaded and you can use it to repair your non-working Windows 10 system or do anything else you wish.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

How to start the Command Prompt when Windows 10 does not boot, using a USB repair drive

If you have a Windows 10 recovery drive, you can use it to start the Command Prompt. Start your computer and from the BIOS boot menu, choose the removable drive where you have the Windows 10 setup, as the boot device. Do not boot from your computer’s hard drive, like before.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

If you do not have a recovery drive, you can create one, on a computer that works, using this guide: How To Create A Recovery Drive In Windows 10.

When the recovery drive loads, it first asks you to choose the keyboard layout. Select the one that you want to use.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

Then, you can choose one of several options. Select Troubleshoot.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

You are shown a list of advanced options. Choose Command Prompt.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

The Command Prompt is now loaded and you can use it.

How to start the Command Prompt when Windows 7 does not boot, using a repair disc

Start your computer and from the BIOS boot menu, choose the DVD drive where you have the recovery tools , as the boot device. Do not boot from your computer’s hard drive, like before.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

After the repair disc is loaded, you are asked to select the keyboard input method that you prefer. Select the desired language for the keyboard and click Next.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe
Then, the repair disc scans the operating systems that are available on your computer and lists them. Select Windows 7 and click Next.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

If you have multiple user accounts on your computer, you are asked to select a username and then type the password for it. Do so and click OK. The System Recovery Options window is now loaded. Click Command Prompt, on the bottom of the window.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

The Command Prompt is shown and you can use it for troubleshooting purposes.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

How to start the Command Prompt when Windows 7 does not boot, using a setup disc

If Windows 7 is not able to load correctly, you can boot using an installation disc. If you have another working computer with Windows, use can use these tutorials to create your own Windows 7 setup disc and use it to troubleshoot your problems:

 

Start your computer and from the BIOS boot menu, choose the DVD drive or the removable drive where you have the Windows 10 setup, as the boot device. Do not boot from your computer’s hard disk.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

Load the Windows 7 setup, choose the language that you want to use and click Next.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

Then, click “Repair your computer.”

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

The System Recovery Options window is now loaded. Click Command Prompt, on the bottom of the window.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

How to start the Command Prompt when Windows 8.1 does not start, using a recovery drive

If Windows 8.1 is not able to load correctly, you can boot using a recovery drive that you create on a working Windows 8.1 computer. With it, you can start the Command Prompt. If you do not have a recovery drive, you can create one, on a Windows 8.1 computer that works, using this guide: How to Create a Recovery Drive on a USB Memory Stick in Windows 8 & 8.1.

From the BIOS boot menu, choose the removable drive where you have the Windows 8.1 setup, as the boot device.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

When the recovery drive loads, it first asks you to choose the keyboard layout that you want to use. Select it.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

You are asked to choose an option for how you want to continue. Click or tap Troubleshoot.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

Then, click or tap Advanced Options.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

In the Advanced options screen, select Command Prompt.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

The Command Prompt is now launched.

How to start the Command Prompt when Windows 8.1 does not load, using an installation disc

If you have a Windows 8.1 setup DVD at hand, or a USB stick with the Windows 8.1 installation program, you can use that to start the Command Prompt.

If you have another working computer with Windows, use can use these tutorials to create your own Windows 8.1 setup disc and use it to troubleshoot your problems:

Start your computer and from the BIOS boot menu, choose the DVD drive or the removable drive where you have the Windows 8 setup, as the boot device.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

After the Windows Setup loads, choose your language and keyboard and press Next.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

Instead of pressing Install now, choose “Repair your computer.”

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

You are asked to choose an option. Press Troubleshoot.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

You are given some troubleshooting options. Choose Advanced options.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

A new list of options is shown. Click or tap Command Prompt.

Windows, boot, Command Prompt, cmd.exe

You can now use the Command Prompt anyway you wish.

I have loaded the Command Prompt and Windows does not work. What is next?

After you have loaded the Command Prompt, you can use it to repair your system's boot records, write a new boot sector (if needed) or rebuild the Boot Configuration Data. All these things are explained in detail, in this tutorial: How to use the Command Prompt to fix issues with your PC's boot records

Conclusion

Hopefully this guide will be useful to you when you have issues with your Windows computers and devices. If you know other ways to start the Command Prompt when Windows does not start, do not hesitate to share them using the comments below.