The discussions I have found detail how to boot to a command prompt, but they all have at their starting point the "Advanced Startup Options".

This assumes you have a functional PC that successfully boots so you can access said options.

What do you do when your PC won't boot? Is there a way of getting from power - on to a command prompt as directly as possible?

** Background **

I had a fault that wiped out all my USB devices so at the end of startup I had a functional machine but no keyboard or mouse.

It all started when I updated to WireShark 2.2.1 and decided at the same time to include the USBPCap drivers. When I restarted, the machine (Dell 8700) started as per normal, but when it had finished starting windows the mouse (wireless - works via a USB dongle), and keyboard (wired, USB) were non-functional. I was able to gain control of the PC by TeamViewer and determine via the Device Manager that no USB drivers had loaded.

A bit of web poking around found that this is a known problem with USBCap, but I wanted to back a couple of things up before attempting any fixes so I wanted to boot to a command prompt so I could access some files (a backup of the registry at the time of the last successful Windows startup) that were normally locked under windows.

I have actually got out of the hole by uninstalling USBPCap but I am still wanting to know how and whether booting directly to a command prompt is possible.

  • Can you borrow a keyboard and mouse temporarily? Otherwise, how do you intend to fix anything, or make anything good happen? VNC may help (using a NIC instead of a keyboard/mouse) – TOOGAM Nov 4 '16 at 3:11
  • whatr do you mean the "end of startup?" exactly how far do you get? – Keltari Nov 4 '16 at 3:45
  • @TOOGAM a keyboard or mouse won't go without USB, which I don't have. See more detail added to OP. – rossmcm Nov 4 '16 at 4:02
  • @Keltari See added detail. – rossmcm Nov 4 '16 at 4:03

Start up the PC, then while it's loading in the first screen that'll either have your PC manufacturer or the Windows logo, forcefully power it off by holding the power button, then start up the PC, then forcefully power it off, repeat until it gives you recovery options or enters startup repair. From here you should be able to access the "Advanced Startup Options" menu and boot into Safe Mode (or the command prompt, if you really want to for some reason).

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  • Just what good is the Advanced Startup Options menu if the keyboard isn't working? – TOOGAM Nov 5 '16 at 2:01
  • @TOOGAM I'm betting that the custom drivers are borked but the generic ones you'd fine in Safe Mode and such should be fine. We won't know for sure until OP tries it and comments. – Aaron Franke Nov 5 '16 at 2:50
  • @Aaron, which I have tried, and behaviour was pretty much as described, with a command prompt at disk X: (presumably a RAM disk) and having full access to the C:\ drive. Many thanks for your input. I guess the main point about my particular problem is that the USBPCap driver would not be loaded for the command prompt, and so the keyboard and mouse were working again. – rossmcm Nov 5 '16 at 4:49

Per this question and answer session on Super User, I think the answer is really basically "no."

The fastest way I could think of to get to command prompt from a situation like the one you describe above would be to insert a windows repair disk or the Windows 10 Install Disk you used to install the OS. Both have advanced options for installation repair, including dropping you to a command line. If you go either of these routes, the fastest way to get to the prompt is not navigating the menus but rather using the Shift+F10 shortcut.

Of course, if windows were working the other way to do all this would be to place a shortcut to "cmd.exe" in the startup folder. Then you'd get a command prompt (in a window on the desktop) upon logging into windows every time.

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  • 1
    Thanks for your answer. Then you'd get a command prompt (in a window on the desktop) upon logging into windows every time. You would, but that command prompt would be restricted in that you couldn't (for example) take a copy of C:\Windows\System32\config\RegBack as the files would be locked. – rossmcm Nov 4 '16 at 21:52
  • Yep, that's a good point. In any case, due to the fact that it doesn't escape the GUI, it's not the answer most people would like to hear. – Adam Wykes Nov 4 '16 at 21:55

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