Windows Server 2008 - Using the Command Prompt

At one time, everyone worked at the command prompt. Windows didn’t exist, and you used DOS or another character-based application that didn’t have much (if anything) in the way of graphics. Many things have changed over the years, but the need for a character-based environment for managing your applications hasn’t. You’ve already seen several examples of using the command line to perform, such as using BCDEdit to change the boot configuration of the machine. As handy as the command prompt is, you really don’t want to have to work without one. Fortunately, the command prompt is accessible in a number of forms. You should use the form that makes the most sense for the task you want to perform. Here are the three most common methods to access the command prompt:

• Boot CD: You can use the boot CD to open a command prompt that doesn’t have any access to any operating system resources but can perform tasks without any operating system interference. This option is the best one to use for low-level tasks. For example, you use this option to replace operating system files or repartition the disk. However, this option may not be available when the hard drive relies on BitLocker encryption. Yes, you can still open the command prompt, but the BitLocker encryption prevents you from performing any useful tasks.

• Boot menu: Using the boot menu option provides a command prompt that includes some operating system functionality but none of the normal drivers. The system has booted into Safe Mode. All the normal paths are in place, but you may notice that some devices are unavailable. Use this option when you need to perform diagnostics with command line utilities. For example, you can verify that the system has specific services running. You can start or stop services to observe their effect on the system and determine whether a particular service is causing the system to fail.

• Within Windows Server 2008: When you open a command prompt from within Windows Server 2008, you normally have full access to the system features. In addition, you can work with all the normal drivers loaded and services running. Use this option when you want to perform configuration or other maintenance tasks at the command line. Be aware, however, that the operating system may actually hide some system features from view.

You may find other ways in which to open the command prompt. Some people have actually created a special boot disk that has the sole function of creating a command prompt. The idea is to create a command prompt in the manner that best reflects what you want to do. In general, adding more operating system features provides you with better management capability, and keeping the operating system out of the picture makes hardware diagnostics easier to perform.

Windows Server 2008 actually provides a number of levels of command prompt access. Because even administrators have fewer privileges, you generally need to elevate your privileges to use the command prompt, by rightclicking the Command Prompt entry in the Start menu and choosing Run As Administrator from the context menu. Otherwise, many of your commands will fail. Most command line utilities assume that you have administrator privileges and don’t provide you with any hints about the lack of privileges when they fail to work.

The command prompt is an unforgiving place to work. You must be certain that you know what you’re doing when you work there because the utilities at the command prompt are notorious for performing tasks in precisely the way you ask. Consequently, you need a good reference for using the commands. One of the easiest ways to learn about a particular utility is to type the name at the command prompt along with the /? (help) switch. For example, when you type Dir /? and press Enter at the command prompt, you can find out all about the Dir (directory) command. It’s also possible to use one of many online resources, such as at the Microsoft Web site at, to find out more about commands.

Source of Information : For Dummies Windows Server 2008 All In One Desk Reference For Dummies

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