Could not find the recovery environment error on Windows 10

Summary: 'Could not find the recovery environment' error may occur while attempting to reset your Windows 10 PC/laptop. Read this blog to learn the possible cause behind the 'could not find the recovery environment' error on Windows 10 and how to fix it. If you lack data backup of your system, recover it with professional data recovery software before fixing the error. Download the trial version below!

Could not find the recovery environment error on Windows 10

To remove all the existing PC data to keep only important data on it, you try to reset your Windows 10 PC. But, sometimes, you get an error stating – ‘could not find the recovery environment’on your system.

Could not find recovery environment

You try to restart your system and reset it again, but the error reoccurs. Now, what? Why does the error keep coming back? How would you fix it?

Fret not! In this blog, we’ve discussed the possible cause of this error and methods to fix it. Let’s find out!

Causes of ‘Could not find the recovery environment’ error

The issue may occur due to different reasons. However, some primary causes can be:

  • Disabled Windows Recovery Environment
  • Corrupted or missing “Winre. wim” file
  • Corrupted WinRE Reference in the Windows Boot Loader
WinRE.Wim is initially located in the Windows partition in the \Windows\System32\Recovery folder. The WinRE image file is copied to the recovery partition during the specialized configuration pass so that the system can boot to the recovery tools even if there’s an issue with the Windows partition. However, this image file doesn’t show in Windows File Explorer as it doesn’t have a drive letter. You’d need to assign a drive letter to the recovery partition in the Disk Management or Diskpart.exe.

Problems Reported by Windows Users

Several Windows users have reported encountering and looking out for ways to fix this error on the Microsoft forum, including:

User Query


“Hi, I have a Windows 10 desktop, and some months ago I reset my pc, and it worked well. But now I want to do it again, and it shows an error message “cannot find recovery environment….” I think because some time ago, I merged my disk C and disk D, but when I opened disk management, there was one recovery disk between it and I deleted it. Can anyone help me fix this problem.”


How to Solve ‘Could not find the recovery environment’ error?

Here, we mention 4 effective methods to help you fix ‘could not find recovery environment Windows 10 error’. However, the following techniques may cause data loss if not performed correctly. Hence, we suggest you take a backup of your system data or recover it using professional data recovery software.

To solve the error, follow the given DIY methods:

Method 1: Enable Windows recovery environment

Sometimes, your Windows recovery environment could be disabled, due to which you may have problems resetting your system and encounter a ‘Windows 10 could not find the recovery environment’ error. Try enabling the Windows recovery environment with the following steps:

  • Open Command Prompt and run it as administrator. (You can also perform this method in Windows PowerShell.)
  • Type reagentc /info and press Enter.
  • If the WinRE status shows disabled, type reagentc /enable to enable it.
Enable Windows Recovery Environment
  • Let the process end. Once it starts showing you a successful message, close the window and restart your system. Now, try resetting it and check if the problem is solved.

Method 2: Fix the Corrupted or Missing WinRE.Wim

The WinRE.Wim image file may be missing or corrupted, due to which you may encounter the error while resetting your system. Locate the WinRE.Wim file on C: drive by following the given steps:

  • Run command prompt as administrator, type dir /a /s c:\winre.wim, and hit Enter.
  • Once you find the file and if it is valid, type Reagentc /setreimage /path C:RecoveryWindowsRE.

If the file is corrupted, you need to get a new copy of WinRE from another Windows 10 system, which should be disabled (you can enable it later.) Then, place it on C: drive recovery path using the above-given command.

  • Now verify the WinRE file path by typing reagentc /info command.
verify WinRE file path by typing reagentc /info command

Wait until the process completes. Now, reboot your system and check if the error is fixed.

Method 3: Fix WinRE Reference in the Windows Boot Loader

The architecture of the Windows Boot Loader, consists of a firmware-independent boot configuration and a storage system, which is called BCD (boot configuration data) and a boot option editing tool, called BCDEdit (bdcedit.ex.e). It controls whether it has to load the recovery environment.

Maybe the boot loader is finding a wrong location due to which you’re facing ‘could not find the recovery environment Windows 10 error’ on your system. You may check and fix the WinRE reference in the boot loader by following the given steps to eliminate this issue.

  • Run Command Prompt as administrator or open PowerShell.
  • Type bcdedit /enum all and press Enter.
  • Check if the identifier status shows as Current in Windows Boot Loader and note down the GUID given against the recoverysequence.
fix WinRE Reference in Windows Boot Loader
  • Ensure that the OSdevice items show the WinRE.Wim file path is similar to the device.
  • Afterward, type bcdedit /set {current} recoverysequence and hit Enter.
  • Now, let the process finish, and once done, close the window.
  • Reboot your system and check if you can reset it now.

Method 4: Use Windows 10 installation media

If you’re unable to fix the ‘Windows 10 could not find the recovery environment’ error, try using Windows 10 installation media to reset your system and bypass this error.

  • Take a new or formatted USB drive of at least 8 GB.
  • Download the media creation tool and save the executable files.
  • Now, right-click on the executable file and select Run as administrator.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to create a USB installation media.
  • Now, reboot your system and choose to boot the PC/laptop from the USB drive.
  • Now, the system will open in the automatic repair environment.
  • Proceed and on the Troubleshoot page, click Reset your PC.
Troubleshoot  > click Reset your PC

Now, you’ve got the options to keep your data or remove everything. If you choose the ‘Keep my files’ option, only the program installed on your system will be deleted, and the system will be back to the default settings. But if you choose ‘Remove everything,’ it will reset your system data completely, causing data loss.

  • Though, it is recommended to choose ‘Remove everything’ to make the process work efficiently.
Remove Everything on reset This PC
  • On the next prompt, select either ‘Just remove your files’ or ‘Remove all your files from the drive where Windows is installed.’
Select Either Just Remove Your Files or Remove all Files
  • Click Next > Reset and finally click Continue.
Select Reset to Continue The Process
  • Wait until the process is completed. Once done, please close the window and reboot your system.

I forgot to take a backup of some of my files and have reset the system. Is there any way I can recover those files?

If there are any important files to recover, use powerful data recovery software, such as Stellar Data Recovery Professional. It is a DIY data recovery tool that helps you recover data from Windows PC/laptops and storage devices, such as HDDs, SSDs, USB drives, etc. The software can also retrieve data from formatted, corrupted, and even crashed or unbootable Windows PCs. You can also recover your data after factory reset Windows 10. Check out the below video to learn how to recover data with Stellar Data Recovery Professional:

Final Thoughts

Generally, the ‘could not find the recovery environment’ error occurs when resetting your Windows 10 system. The primary reasons could be a disabled recovery environment, missing or corrupted WinRE image file. You can fix the error by enabling the Windows recovery environment, fixing the corrupted WinRE file, or correcting the WinRE reference in the Windows boot loader. Another method you may try is resetting the PC using Windows 10 installation media. However, resetting the PC with USB installation media will remove everything on your system. Hence, if you forgot to take backup, recover your data using a professional data recovery tool.

Also Read: How to Reset Your PC and Keep Your Files in Windows 10

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