The BREAK command in Windows CMD is a legacy command that is used to enable or disable the extended CTRL+C checking on DOS systems. Its primary purpose was to set or clear the extended CTRL+C checking on older batch programs. It’s not effective in modern Windows systems as it essentially serves no operational purpose, but it’s still included for compatibility reasons with older software.


The syntax for using the BREAK command is:

  • ON: Enables extended CTRL+C checking.
  • OFF: Disables extended CTRL+C checking.

If used without parameters, it will display the current settings of the break.


The BREAK command has very limited options:

  • ON: This parameter sets the break enable feature, making the system check more frequently for CTRL+C interrupts.
  • OFF: This parameter clears the break enable feature, reducing CTRL+C checking to the default behavior.


  1. Viewing the Current Break Setting

    C:\> BREAK

    This command will display whether extended CTRL+C checking is currently enabled or disabled.

  2. Enabling Extended CTRL+C Checking

    C:\> BREAK ON

    This enables more frequent checking for the CTRL+C interruption, which could be needed for compatibility with certain old batch files.

  3. Disabling Extended CTRL+C Checking

    C:\> BREAK OFF

    This returns the CTRL+C checking behavior to its default setting, which is typically sufficient under normal operations.

Common Issues

  • Irrelevance in Modern Windows: One frequent issue is misunderstanding the purpose of BREAK in modern Windows environments as it no longer has a practical application but is only maintained for compatibility.
  • Confusion with System Break Behavior: Some users may confuse the BREAK command with system pause functionality, while it historically dealt solely with keyboard interrupt handling.


BREAK can be scripted into legacy batch files that require specific handling of CTRL+C interrupts. For example, when combining with other commands in a script that must ensure proper shutdown sequences when interrupted:

COPY largefile1.txt largefile2.txt

This ensures that during the copying process, the system is attentive to interruption commands, minimizing potential for data loss.

  • CTRL+C: The keyboard interrupt that the BREAK command relates to.
  • CMD: The Windows command processor within which BREAK functionality is embedded.

For more advanced usage and integration with modern scripts, it is generally recommended to look into PowerShell or other advanced script handling mechanisms in Windows, which offer robust and contemporary ways to manage system behavior, including error handling and interruption responses.