I attempted to reset my Windows 11 PC by navigating to Settings > System > Recovery > Reset PC button. However, the process failed, and an error message appeared: Could not find the recovery environment. Insert your Windows installation or recovery media, and restart your PC with the media.
The error message pop-up window is displayed in the screenshot below for your reference. There could be various reasons why your PC’s Windows recovery environment is not available.
For instance, it may be corrupted, or your PC might be affected by a virus that has made significant changes, including disabling the ability to reset the PC by corrupting the Windows recovery environment.
Option 1 – Use REAgentC.exe tool
The REAgentC.exe tool is utilized to configure the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) boot image. This command can be used to check the status of the Windows Recovery Environment, as well as to disable or enable it.
- Utilize the command ‘reagentc /info‘ to check the status of Windows RE. As you can see from below screenshot, the status is currently disabled, which is why I was unable to reset the PC.
- To enable Windows Recovery Environment, use the command ‘reagentc /enable‘.
- After enabling it, run the command reagentc /info to ensure that the Windows RE status is displayed as ‘Enabled‘. Additionally, you’ll see the Windows RE location and Boot Configuration Data (BCD). Now, attempt to reset your PC again; you should not encounter the error message, and the reset process should proceed smoothly.”
Option 2 – Create a Recovery Drive
If the above option does not resolve the issue, you can also try creating a Recovery drive. Use it to boot from the recovery drive and reinstall Windows 11.
Note that the reinstallation of the Windows OS will delete all data on your OS drive, including installed applications. Ensure to back up your personal files before reinstalling the Windows OS.
- Go to Start and search for Recovery Drive.
- After clicking on ‘Recovery drive‘ a wizard will guide you through creating a recovery drive. Plug in an empty USB drive (a recommended size is at least 16 GB; I used an 8 GB USB for this demo without any issues) and keep the option ‘Back up system files to the recovery drive‘ selected. Click ‘Next‘ to proceed.
- Ensure that the USB drive does not contain any important data, as this process will format the USB to create a recovery drive. Double-check the drive letter to confirm it is your USB drive. Click ‘Next‘ to proceed.
- Keep in mind that everything on the drive will be deleted. If you have any personal files on this device, ensure you’ve backed them up. Click on ‘Create‘ to proceed.
- Formatting the USB drive.
- The system files are being copied to the USB drive. The entire process of creating the recovery drive may take up to 2 hours. Once the recovery drive is created, restart your PC and boot it using this recovery USB drive. You will find the option to reinstall Windows on this screen.
- The process of creating the recovery drive took more than 1 hour to complete. Once it’s finished, you’ll receive the message ‘The recovery drive is ready‘. Click ‘Finish‘ to proceed.
- As visible in the screenshot below, I used an 8GB USB drive, and there is still 1.55 GB of free space remaining. The screenshot displays the contents of the recovery drive.
- Simply reboot the PC and boot from this USB drive to enter Recovery mode, allowing you to reinstall the Windows OS or troubleshoot various Windows OS-related issues.
The ‘Could not find the recovery environment‘ issue can be easily fixed using the REAgentC.exe tool. More information about this tool can be found here. If you encounter difficulties resetting your PC, consider creating a recovery environment drive and booting from it.
Follow the available options on the screen to reinstall Windows 11. Alternatively, if you have a Windows 11 original ISO disk or bootable image, you can use it for the reinstallation. Keep in mind that reinstalling Windows 11 will delete all data stored on your OS drive, including installed applications. Ensure you have a backup of your personal and important files before proceeding with this step.