The Recovery Console is an Advanced Diagnostic Mode used to Troubleshoot major Windows issues. The Recovery console is Command Line based.
The Recovery console can be accessed from the Windows XP Installation Disk. Boot your computer using the Windows Disk and when you see the Welcome to setup Screen you will also find the option “Press R to Repair windows using the Recovery Console…”
It can also be accessed from the Boot Menu if it has been installed in your computer.
You can install the Recovery console in your computer by using the following command:
d:\i386\winnt32.exe /cmdcons (where d: is the drive letter for your cd-rom/dvd-rom drive)
The Recovery Console is not available in Windows Vista & Windows 7
It is only available in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.
Some important Recovery Console Commands:
1.Attrib: Used to change the atribute of a file or folder. eg. attrib <filename> +h +r or -h -r etc
2.Bootcfg: used to modify the boot.ini file.
3.Chkdsk: used to check the hard-disk drive for errors.
4.Chdir: Same as CD
5.Cls: Clears the Screen
6.Copy: Copies files from one location to another.(Removable media not allowed)
7.Del: Deletes a file
8.Dir: Lists the contents of a Directory (FOlder)
9.Diskpart: is used to add or delete partitions in the Hard-disk drive using the /add or /delete option.
10.Enable:is used to enable a windows service or a Device Driver
11.Disable: is used to disable a Windows Service or Device Driver
12.Expand: used to expand a compressed file.
13.Fixboot: is used to write a new startup sector
14.Fixmbr: is used to repair the Master Boot Record
15.Format: is used to format a hard-disk or drive
16.Help: activates the help for the different commands.
17.ListSvc: displays the services and drivers in the computer
18.Logon: is used to logon to the windows installation in the hard-disk.
19.Type: displays the contents of a file.
20.Ren: Used to rename a file.
Click on this link to visit the Microsoft article on this topic.
For advanced users, here is one more article from Microsoft.