Error “Could not find the Recovery Environment” When Resetting PC

When you attempt to use the Reset this PC option to Reset (“Remove everything”) or Refresh (“Keep my files”) Windows 10, the following error may appear:

Could not find the recovery environment

Insert your Windows installation or recovery media, and restart your PC with the media.

could not find the recovery environment - reagentc.exe

This error occurs if the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) is disabled, or if the WinRE image is corrupted in the system.

tips bulb iconRegardless of this issue, you should be able to carry out Refresh or Reset operation by booting the computer with your Windows 10 Setup disk.

With the Windows RE feature disabled on the computer, if you boot into the Windows RE (without the setup or repair disk), the following features would be missing in the Windows Recovery Environment:

Additionally, if Windows RE is disabled or corrupted, the following error occurs when you attempt to create a Windows 10 Recovery Drive (USB).

We can't create a recovery drive on this PC

We can’t create a recovery drive on this PC

Some required files are missing. To troubleshoot problems when your PC can’t start, use your Windows installation disc or media.

This article tells you how to fix the Could not find the recovery environment and We can’t create a recovery drive on this PC errors by enabling or repairing the Windows Recovery Environment feature.



Fix for Error “Could not find the recovery environment”

  1. First, let’s check the status of the Windows RE on the computer. To do so, open an admin Command Prompt window, and then type the following command:
    reagentc /info

    could not find the recovery environment - reagentc.exe

    The above command shows the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) and system reset configuration.

    Here’s a sample output:

    Windows RE status: Enabled
    Windows RE location: \\?\GLOBALROOT\device\harddisk0\partition2\Recovery\WindowsRE
    Boot Configuration Data (BCD) identifier: 1216a3d1-d870-11ea-a9e9-1866da06b846
    Recovery image location:
    Recovery image index: 0
    Custom image location:
    Custom image index: 0

  2. On the other hand, if the Windows RE status shows up as Disabled or if the Windows RE location is empty, here is the command you need to run:
    reagentc /enable

    This enables the Windows Recovery Environment on the computer.

    could not find the recovery environment - reagentc.exe

    When you run the enable command, what happens in the background is that the Windows RE image file (Winre.wim) is copied from the Windows\System32\Recovery to the C:\Recovery\WindowsRE folder and the boot configuration entries (BCD) is updated accordingly.

Can’t enable Windows RE?

If you encounter errors when enabling the Windows RE using reagentc.exe command-line, see the next section, “How to Repair or restore the Windows Recovery Environment” for a solution.

How to Repair or Restore the Windows Recovery Environment

If the Windows RE image Winre.wim is missing from the source or is corrupted, the following error occurs when running the reagentc.exe /enable command-line:

REAGENTC.EXE: The Windows RE image was not found.

could not find the recovery environment - reagentc.exe

To resolve this, we need to extract a fresh copy of Winre.wim from the Windows 10 Setup disk or ISO. Follow these steps:

tips bulb iconFor maximum compatibility, make sure you select the version of Windows 10 ISO/DVD that matches the version of Windows 10 currently installed. You can download any version of Windows 10 ISO using Rufus.

  1. Extract Winre.wim from the install.wim file located inside the Windows Setup disk or ISO. You can find detailed instructions in the article How to Extract Files from Windows 10 ISO or DVD (Install.wim)
    Let’s say you extract Winre.wim from the ISO/DVD source to the D:\ drive using the instructions in the linked article above.
  2. Next, open an admin Command Prompt Window, and type the following command:
    cd /d C:\Recovery\WindowsRE

    If the above command is successful, you’ll see C:\Recovery\WindowsRE in the prompt.

  3. Type the following command now:
    copy D:\Winre.wim

    You should see the 1 file(s) copied message in the output. The file Winre.wim which we extracted to the D:\ drive, is now copied to the C:\Recovery\WindowsRE folder.

  4. Type the following command:
    reagentc /setreimage /path C:\Recovery\WindowsRE

    You should see the output similar to the following:

    Directory set to: \\?\GLOBALROOT\device\harddisk0\partition2\Recovery\WindowsRE
    
    REAGENTC.EXE: Operation Successful.
    The above path starting with the GLOBALROOT is the symbolic link that points to the Recovery\WindowsRE folder on the C: drive. The partition# and the harddisk# would vary depending upon the configuration of each computer.
    Note that the file Winre.wim must exist in that folder before running the reagentc.exe /setreimage command-line. Otherwise, you’ll get the error REAGENTC.EXE: No valid image found in the specified path.
  5. Finally, run the following command to enable the Windows Recovery Environment and reconfigure the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) entries present in the System Reserved partition.
    reagentc /enable
  6. If you see REAGENTC.EXE: Operation successful in the output of the previous command, then type the following command to verify if the Windows Recovery Environment is enabled:
    reagentc /info

    You should see something like this in the output.

    Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) and system reset configuration
    
    Windows RE status: Enabled
    Windows RE location: \\?\GLOBALROOT\device\harddisk0\partition2\Recovery\WindowsRE
    Boot Configuration Data (BCD) identifier: 1216a3d5-d870-11ea-a9e9-1866da06b846
    Recovery image location:
    Recovery image index: 0
    Custom image location:
    Custom image index: 0
    
    REAGENTC.EXE: Operation Successful.
    
    could not find the recovery environment - reagentc.exe

You should be able to use the Reset or Refresh features from the Settings page now.

could not find the recovery environment - reagentc.exe

After following the above steps, you’ll also find that the tools such as Startup Repair, System Restore, Uninstall Updates, etc., are restored back in the Windows RE page. The Windows 10 Recovery Drive creation error We can’t create a recovery drive on this PC would be resolved, too.


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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded Winhelponline.com in 2005.

5 thoughts on “Error “Could not find the Recovery Environment” When Resetting PC”

  1. This article is absolutely essential. After a 5 day headache, I was finally able to perform a clean installation on a PC that the Windows installation media would never reset Windows on. Thank you so much, Winhelponline.

    Reply

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