Microsoft

Create a Recovery Drive in Windows 8

Greg Shultz shows you how to create a Recovery Drive in Windows 8 for both a flash drive and an optical disk.

If you haven't done so yet, you need to create a recovery drive for your Windows 8 system. Doing so now will save time and effort, not to mention grief, should you encounter a problem with your Windows 8 installation. A Recovery Drive will allow you to boot your system and easily access a number of recovery and troubleshooting tools that you can use to revive an ailing Windows 8 system.

Unlike its predecessor, Windows 8 allows you to create a Recovery Drive using a USB flash drive, which provides you with new capabilities, such as being able to backup an OEM recovery partition. Of course, you can also create a Recovery Drive on an optical disc - just like you did in Windows 7. While both procedures end up with the exact same Recovery system, they are created from separate user interfaces - the USB Flash drive is created from a new user interface and the optical disc is created from the old System Repair Disc user interface. Why Microsoft didn't unify the process under one roof, I don't know.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to create a Recovery Drive in Windows 8 using a USB flash drive. I'll also show you how to create a Recovery Drive on an optical disc.

Caveat

Regardless of whether you are creating a Recovery Drive using a USB flash drive or on an optical disc, it is important to remember that a Recovery Drive is bit specific. In other words, if you create a Recovery Drive in a 64-bit version of Windows 8, you can't use that drive to boot up and repair a 32-bit version of Windows 8. Likewise, you can't use a 32-bit Recovery Drive in a 64-bit system.

Using a USB Flash Drive

To begin with, you need to know that the USB flash drive you choose to use will become a dedicated Recovery Drive - you won't be able to use it for anything else. In its base configuration, the contents of the Recovery Drive will require about 256MB of space. However, if you choose to include the OEM recovery partition, you'll need more space. Thus, if you are creating a basic Recovery Drive, you can use a 1GB USB flash drive. (If you have a smaller sized drive, from the old days, you could use it as well.) If you are going to add OEM recovery partition, you'll want at least a 16GB USB flash drive.

To launch the USB flash drive version of the Recovery tool, use the [Windows] + W keystroke to access the Search Settings page, type Recovery Drive in the text box, and click Create a recovery drive, as illustrated in Figure A. You'll then encounter a UAC, as shown in Figure B and will need to click Yes to continue. As you can see in the UAC dialog box, the program name is shown here as Recovery Media Creator.

Figure A

Accessing the Recovery Drive tool from the Start screen is easy.

Figure B

When you launch the Recovery Drive tool, you'll encounter a UAC.
In a moment, you'll see the first screen in the Recovery Drive wizard, as shown in Figure C. If your computer came with an OEM recovery partition, the Copy the recovery partition check box will be enabled allowing you to include the contents of the recovery partition on the recovery USB flash drive. (If you select this option, you'll need a sufficiently large capacity USB flash drive.) To continue, click Next.

Figure C

If your computer came with an OEM recovery partition, the Copy the recovery partition check box will be enabled.
In the next screen of the Recovery Drive wizard, you'll be prompted to select your USB drive. If the drive isn't already connected to your system, you can insert it now. When you do, Windows 8 will rescan the system and display your drive. Now, as you can see in Figure D, since I am only creating a basic Recovery Drive, the wizard informs me that the drive will only need to hold at least 256MB and that everything currently on the drive will be deleted. Remember, this will become a dedicated Recovery Drive. Once you select your USB flash drive, click Next.

Figure D

The USB flash drive you choose to use will become a dedicated Recovery Drive.
In the next screen, as shown in Figure E, you are once again warned that the contents of the drive will be deleted. To continue, click the Create button.

Figure E

You are again warned that everything on the drive will be deleted.
When you do, Windows 8 will format the drive and the begin copying files to the drive, as shown in Figure F. If you are creating a basic Recovery Disk, the process will just take a few minutes. If you are including a recovery partition, go get yourself a cup of coffee - it could take as long as an hour.

Figure F

If you are including a recovery partition, the creation process can take up to an hour to complete.
When the process is complete, Windows 8 will open the drive so that you can see the contents, as shown in Figure G. You can then close the Recovery Drive wizard by clicking the Finish button.

Figure G

When the process is complete, you will see the contents of the drive in file Explorer.
If you included a recovery partition on the USB flash drive, when the process is complete, you'll be prompted to delete the recovery partition from the hard disk to free up space, as shown in Figure H. If you delete the recovery partition, you'll then have to use Disk Management to extend your system partition into the newly freed up space.

Figure H

If you included a recovery partition on the USB flash drive, you'll be prompted to delete the recovery partition from the hard disk.

Keep in mind that, you should only delete the recovery partition if you are really hard up for disk space. The reason that I say that is that without the recovery partition on the hard disk, it is imperative that you not loose or accidentally reformat your USB Flash Disk as it now contains you only copy of the recovery partition. On the flip side, you may want to create a System Image that contains a copy of the recovery partition. I suppose that you could create two USB Flash Disk Recovery disks that include the recovery partition so that you have a backup of your recovery partition.

Using an optical disc

If you want to use an optical disc to create a Recovery Drive, you'll launch the Windows 7 File Recovery tool and use the old System Repair Disc interface. Keep in mind that while you will use this legacy interface, you will indeed end up with the same Windows 8 Recovery system created with the new Recovery Drive wizard.

To launch the optical disc version of the Recovery tool, use the [Windows] + W keystroke to access the Search Settings page, type Windows 7 File in the text box, and click Windows 7 File Recovery, as illustrated in Figure I.

Figure I

Accessing the Windows 7 File Recovery tool from the Start screen is easy.
Now, when you see the Windows 7 File Recovery user interface, select the Create a system repair disc command on the left side of the screen to launch the creation tool. This process is illustrated in Figure J. To start the procedure, click the Create disc button.

Figure J

You'll launch the Create a system repair disc procedure from the Windows 7 File Recovery user interface.
You'll then see the program begin the process of creating the disc. This process is illustrated in Figure K.

Figure K

Creating a Recovery Drive on an optical disc is a relatively quick procedure.

What's your take?

Will you use a USB flash drive to create a Recovery drive? Or will you use an optical disc? Will you backup and remove an OEM recovery partition? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

Also read:

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

65 comments
avisonline1
avisonline1

Hi ,


I accidentally made my hard drive as recovery driver, Now all of my files are lost, am doomed!! Can you please help me on this :(

pradeepgoel
pradeepgoel

thanks sir for this nice post, i want to ask that i have lenovo laptop with preinstall win 8 and if i delete my all partions (include hidden partions, OEM , recovery etc) then how can i reinstall win 8 with usb recovery drive ?

datatracklabsltd
datatracklabsltd

Its a nice article of Greg to create recovery drive in windows 8 for flash drive and optical disk. I use it and works cool

akachhawa
akachhawa

Hi Greg,

I recently purchased Acer R7-572, It notified to create a recovery back up. I attempted to do that and it showed i need atleast 16GB of space in USB flash drive. As I did not had the flash drive handy, i did not create the recovery back up. While I shut down, it ran some updates. I was then tying to create the back up it asked me to have 32GB of USB flash drive. I then uninstalled the updates. I have two questions?

1. Is their anyway to reduce the size and get the same requirement of 16GB space in flash drive?

2. As 32GB flash drive would have only 29.8GB of free space, would that be enough as system is asking for atleast 32GB of free space now?

your help is appreciated.

Mariyana11
Mariyana11

Hi Greg, it was very helpful for me. I created a recovery usb drive - without partition - the laptop has not a recovery partition. But it was very fast - about 4 min. Is it normal? when I buy my laptop, the girl in the shop told me it will took 1 hour about ... In fact I wanted to do the following: create a recovery of windows 8 that I can use if/when my laptop has some problem with windows 8.

rhyed
rhyed

hi Greg. I have my samsung ultranote preinstalled with win8 but i need to use ubuntu for my school when i try to install ubuntu using Flash Drive I might change any set up of my laptop. when i try to open my laptop it say that (all boot is try bu could found any and then press f4) when i press f4 it direct me to the recovery mode i try to click recovery but it didn't work i also try to may a factory image etc. but it says that (could not create a boot configuration etc) iam not using ubuntu but i want to bring back my W8..please help me iam getting confuse of what to do not to have my new laptop...thank alot in advance

VidhiM
VidhiM

Hi Greg, I want to create a recovery drive using a USB flash drive in my new W8 laptop (Dell Inspiron 15). Although I receive an error - "We cant create a recovery drive on this PC. Some required files are missing....." just after Figure C.

Can you suggest something to resolve this?

Vince0001
Vince0001

Thanks for sharing your useful articles. It must have been a labour of love on your part. 

I have just bought an Asus Notebook pre loaded with Win 8. .

The 1TB HDD in my Asus Notebook is a mechanical drive. I have a 40 GB spare SSD lying around that I would like to use as the boot drive since there is space for a 2nd HDD in the notebook. I would like to ask how I can go about making the SSD as the OS boot drive without having to purchase another Win 8 license. Is this the correct way; i.e. first create a Recovery Drive on my thumbdrive and to also include the OEM recovery partition. Temporary disconnect the 1TB HDD, boot up using the recovery thumbdrive, then select the option Reset PC to install a fresh OS on the SSD?

dsabet
dsabet

Thanks but still have a question - does this recovery USB flash have all of the drivers?  That's the real pain!

Mitz32
Mitz32

Hi Greg 

So what if you want to back up the recovery partition to an optical disk? Is there any option for that ? Will the system repair disk work if I completely format or change my HDD. Which i dont suppose because it just 256 MB while the OS is almost 20 GB.

Atccscc
Atccscc

Hi Greg:

I bought Dell Inspiron 15R5521  in March this year. However the unit failed to boot / initialize on power up  in June. Dell replaced the motherboard, HD  etc in a hit and run type of service without caring to  restore  the system to  original  level.    Now  the model number indicates as 3521 ,I do not have the GPT file system and also the new HD doesn't have the recovery  partition.  How can I get this recovery data so that I can store it separately in an external HD drive.

natazaika
natazaika

Hi Greg,

I have Toshiba laptop with windows8. After I installed more applications (adobe master collection and Microsoft office) I made recovery DVD-R. Yesterday I complitely erased hard drive and resored it with my DVD. It came out as a factory default setting. What should I do to get back my apps without reinstalling them?

Thank you.

audreysmith
audreysmith

Hi Greg

Thanks for your very informative and helpful article.

I have copies of all of my important data- so - if windows 8 needs restoring- I only need to be able to recover windows 8 from it's original install

I am wondering if the following "obvious" solution to a windows 8 recovery plan would work.

If I copy the recovery image in "D" drive of windows 8 to a CD or external hard drive or anywhere else, will I be able to use this image to restore windows 8 to it's original config?

Thanks for your help

Audrey

recoverasis
recoverasis

Hi Greg, I have created a USB drive as recovery drive and not followed the steps mentioned in the recovery, accidentally my original data on USB is erased. Is there any way I can recovery my old data. Thanks in advance!

bertleen
bertleen

Search any third party software to repair and recover windows drive with out any problem, nice suggestion please try.......! Best Regards Bert Leen www.facebook.com/pages/Windows-Data-Recovery/239926112792542

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...not quite sure that we are on the same page here. When you say [i]You only have one shot at it[/i] you must be talking about HP's built-in system recovery tool, not Windows 8's Recovery Drive tool. If one of your HP Restore discs was damaged, HP should help you to replace it - you shouldn't have to buy a Windows 8 DVD from Microsoft. If HP is refusing to help you, then you should investigate returning the system to HP for maintenance or look into getting it replaced. If it is only 5 weeks old, it should still be covered under warranty. Please post the model number of your HP system. I'm having trouble believing that you can not boot from the DVD.

Biggd4355
Biggd4355

Wether you use a set of DVD's or a flashdrive. You only have one shot at it. I made 4 disks of the restoration ( required ). But one of the disks got damaged. Now Microsoft wants me to purchase the windows 8 operating system. My PC is only 5 weeks old. Plus, on my HP PC you cannot change the boot sequence to boot from dvd rom. Customer support at Microsoft would not tell a HP manager if a second set of restoration discs could be made without paying $100.00. This is flat out wrong and HP was not happy about the runaround. Saying it was probably bait and switch.

magnus717@hotmail.com
magnus717@hotmail.com

Hi! I am trying to format my self built stationary windows 8 OS computer. At first I got the message "Some files are missing. Your Windows installation or recover media will provide these files", where the only option is to cancel. After tips from googling the problem, I use my 4GB USB drive to create a recovery drive with similar, if not exact the same, procedure as the steps provided above. But I get the same message "Some files are missing. Your Windows installation or recover media will provide these files", and I cannot proceed. I had windows 7 on the computer and installed windows 8 via a free online offer for engineering students at my university, so I do not have any purchased physical material available if needed. Formatting should still be easily doable though. Any help is much appreciated!

SaintMark5
SaintMark5

My main boot drive containing Windows 8 has failed. It will occasionally boot into the troubleshooting menu, but if I go to the recovery option, it tells me something about an I/O error. I expect this, as, like I said, the hd is pretty much dead. I have an image from yesterday on another drive on the system, but I have not made a recovery disk. I don't have access to another 64-bit Windows 8 system to make one. Only my Macbook Air. I know there must be a way to download a .iso or .img copy of the recovery disk with which to make my own from OSX, but can't seem to find one. How do I go about this? Another thing: I have yet to receive my new SSD drive in the mail, but it is somewhat smaller than the drive I imaged that failed. The image contained the OS, Program Files, and a lot of media. Basically, if I am able to load the OS and Program Files onto the SSD (which I know it will be big enough for), will I be able to recover the media onto another drive?

vrakeshis
vrakeshis

Hi, Thank you for the detailed and very very useful post. I want to use optical discs. Could you highlight the reason for the nomenclature difference between "Recovery" Disc & "Repair" Disc. Though you have mentioned that the legacy "Repair" disc method does the same thing, but I had confusion whether the "Recovery" Drive Creation (say on USB) is a real recovery akin to a fresh copy from an image snapshot and the "repair disc" is only to boot and fix/repair the existing (problematic/corrupt) Windows-8. Secondly, could you give me an idea, as to how many DVDs could be required for an out-of-the-box laptop that I received with Windows-8 pre-installed ?? Thank you for your valuable posts. Regards, Rakesh

Flaming_Crossbow
Flaming_Crossbow

Hi, Does the create a recovery drive work for making a recovery drive for reinstalling windows 8 after replacing the HDD with an SSD? So if i made a recovery drive while running on the HDD on a preinstalled laptop, and replaced the HDD with an SSD and then booted with the recovery drive to recover windows to the SSD would that all work? If yes, what specifice recovering configuration do i need to set? i do not intend to keep any date so would base configuration be sufficient?

rodion15
rodion15

Shouldn't you mention that you needn't create a system repair disc if you have the Windows 8 install DVD?. And that you needen't create a Windows 8 recovery drive unless you include a system image?. I went ahead and created a repair disc CD-ROM then I later found I could use the Windows 8 DVD and choose the Repair option for the same purpose.

leverseau
leverseau

i dont khow how to do and i want to if nessesery

dorianearl
dorianearl

Thank you so much, this was very helpful for me. I have share some important solution for windows corruption, Kernel for windows data recovery software to recover all over data files from damaged windows 8 partition.

pabloinla
pabloinla

I did as recommended, created a Windows Recovery USB file. No option to copy System files even though I have a system created partition. Used program I have used hundred times, Uniblue PowerSuite, 2013 (UPS2013). UPS2013 ran and updated 2 drivers, asked to restart. On restart, got the Repair screen. Plugged in the USB, it was not recognized. There was no option I did not try given the several choices. One option as a last resort was DOS prompt, cd to a Srt folder. There is no SRT folder, no srtTrail.txt found with dir search. On reinstall, there is no srt folder so whatever that instruction from TechRepublic came from, it's not correct. I had to start from scratch to reinstall Windows 8, which I am still working on all those programs and Mboard drivers. This is really upsetting and time consuming! I have mirrored drives, that did not help. I used EaseUS Toto to create a partition backup of the System and C:\ drives, but I found it would not boot into Windows. Any comments, welcome.

greenpond
greenpond

Win 8 disk management indicates a health recovery partition on my laptop's SSD. Recovery fails to create a USB flash drive disk - "some required files are missing". The copy check box is grayed out. My install was a downloaded Win 8 Pro file using the Install Assistant to upgrade Win 7. Perhaps the recovery partition is still Win 7?

paulrgreenwald
paulrgreenwald

I followed the instructions, inserting an un-needed USB drive (4GB). Ran the utility, un-checking the Copy System Restore Partition. Then ran the Windows 7 File Recovery utility, selecting Create a System Image. Selected the USB drive and got the following message: This drive cannot be used to store a system image because it is not formatted with NTFS. Formatted the drive with NTFS, reran the Recovery Drive utility (which formats the drive before copy the utility files to it) and got the same error in Windows 7 File Recovery utility. What am I missing??

pabloinla
pabloinla

When using instructions here and in the Dialog Box for creating a Windows 8 Recovery Drive, I am not able to copy the recovery partition; the option is greyed out. I have an 8 Gb USB drive so that is not the issue. I tried to assign a drive letter to the System Partition, that did nothing. Any ideas? (I note that there must be a System Partition for the option to appear. However, there is a partition created during install which is only available for system stuff(?) so isn't that the System Partition?) By the way, at Fry's Electronics here 2Apr2013, no drive under 8 Gb is even available, so space for Recovery is not an issue.

csbillings
csbillings

I bought a Dell desktop with Windows 8 installed. I then had to activate it online. I took advantage of Microsoft's upgrade to Windows 8 Pro on sale in January. I then had to reactivate it again. What version is now on the recovery partition? If I make a USB Recovery Drive, will it be the original Windows 8 installed by Dell, or will it be the upgrade version of Windows 8 Pro that I installed? In case of a total hard drive failure, will I have to reactivate both versions all over again? I only wish that Dell would give you the original OEM disks like they did for my last Dell computer. Also, Microsoft to my surprise, did not send me a disk for the upgrade to Windows 8 Pro. When I opened the package I thought the disk was missing at first, until I read the instructions. I just had to enter the upgrade number and it opened the files that were already in the operating system but were hidden and locked. I still prefer disks and am not too happy with Windows 8 although there are some features I like.

wilburlikesmith
wilburlikesmith

You mentioned that you have to give up the flash disk and dedicate it as a Recovery Drive. Wouldn't it be possible to backup and/or zip the contents of the flash disk and when needed copy it back to a flash disk when needed? Or does Windows 8 actually do some funky stuff to the flash disk's file system etc?

rifhickman
rifhickman

it seems you can create a recovery drive only once. tough if you damage or lose it....

PaleRider1861
PaleRider1861

O/T Last week I ordered my daughter a Dell Inspiron 17R laptop, which came preloaded with Windows 8. After removing McAfee software and adding others, I spent about 5 hours hands-on with this machine, and it was, in one word,SUPERB! I cannot speak to the Surface users, but using Windows 8 on this machine (no Touch Screen) was absolutely wonderful. You can read about the experience all you want, but until you've actually used it, you won't see what makes this OS truly cutting-edge technology. This laptop came with a core i3 3227U CPU, 500GB hard drive, 4GB RAM, DVD burner, Wireless, USB3 slots, as well as card readers; true, not the most powerful system, but plenty enough horsepower for her purposes. It was a thing of beauty, and one of these is in my future, now sooner rather than later.

henry18
henry18

What I do is create 3 partitions on any hard disk and leave say 100 gig for W7 OS and around 80 gigs for the backup of the OS only and create a DATA partition. Hence on a 500 gig drive you get around 300 gigs for data. I then make all the defaults for W7 folders transferred over to the DATA partition. W7 allows this but it is a bit tedious to do. But the benefits are huge as the “OS only” can be backed up using W7 to the 3rd W7_Bkup partition and as there is no data transferred I can then and even “remotely” rebuild a client’s computer for them. Why W8 dropped this wonderful ability that W7 had beggars belief. For some programmes that won’t let you move the files out of C drive I use Syncback Pro to do it for me overnight automatically. It wakes my W7 PC up and does the backups and then goes back to sleep. Slick piece of software is Syncback Pro. I also have a programme that someone in middle America wrote around Ghost 11.5 that will allow me to make a “one file image file” of any W7 build before it goes onsite. A gem of a tool this is, as I can store these image files cheaply to use for a full recovery if needed at any time. Huge time saver. W7 is the best OS I have sampled from Microsoft and W8 does not cut it for me. As one person said on one of these forums it will be something else for an OS for him/her if Microsoft tries to force people to W8. Yep, it could be Linux here I come????? I am pretty impressed by Linux and at 71, I aren’t too old to learn either. If I can finished with QED

crates
crates

Sounds as if there's no real need/reason to create a bootable recovery drive in advance of problems, since it's not system-specific. If/when problems happen, create a recovery drive off of someone else's (same-bit) Windows system and then use it on the computer with problems--yes?

Cmd_Line_Dino
Cmd_Line_Dino

"Who Am I Really" mentions his 3.1 system loads 3.1 in about 12 seconds. Also we have all seen countless folks report how their systems boot in only "n" seconds. Now I certainly prefer faster boot over slower but as long as it's of reasonable speed I don't spend any time fussing over it because I boot so infrequently. I spend my effort making my systems reliable. So reliable that when I put them into suspend I don't worry have I saved all files. Even back when using Windows 3.1 in a large corporate Novell network I once ran my primary workstation for 26 days without a reboot or restart of Windows (no suspend in those days). Today my home desktop is a Win 7 64 ASUS based build that I did. It's right next to where I sit to read and watch TV (always via Tivo). My system is ready 7x24 to in an instant search an issue and do daily reading. It and our excellent 30 Mbit broadband access ... what a powerful tool.

Tiger-Pa
Tiger-Pa

Windows reports that it can't create a recovery drive because some files are missing. I have seen this reported on several forums as well but no solution. My system has a clean install of Win8 Pro - any ideas what's missing?

Darkniss
Darkniss

Thanks for the info! I'm still getting used to Win 8 Pro's app and recovery functionality. I like File History and use an encrypted drive (Bitlocker) to save my data as I add to it. I, too, am looking forward to the results of your experiments. Hopefully, I can use the encrypted drive as for system recovery also.

carlsf1
carlsf1

We Don't and Wont go Win 8, the most unproductive O/S ever compiled....

Michael Jay
Michael Jay

other that 32/64 bit incompatibility which should be a given, is it system specific, could I make a recovery drive on my HP and take it to a Lenovo product and expect it to work? I think not. Also what about full disk encryption, if your drive is encrypted will it be able to deal with that? Again, I think not. I am assuming that this makes a bootable USB drive or CD/DVD but that was not made clear in the article, did you test it? Perhaps it might be a good test to use a Linux live CD/DVD to boot the pc and delete the files on the root rendering the Windows 8 PC unbootable and see if the recovery drive can save you. Edit to add; Could this be used to boot a dead Windows 8 pc for data recovery? Answers would be a good thing.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Have you made a Windows Recovery Drive yet, or do you prefer to live dangerously?

Editor's Picks