A new feature in Windows 8 is the Recovery Drive, which allows
you to create a bootable USB flash drive that contains a host of tools you can
use to revive an ailing Windows 8 system. In order to retain compatibility with
Windows 7 backups, Windows 8 also came with the Windows 7 File Recovery tool,
which you can use to create and restore Windows 7 compatible backups. The Windows
7 File Recovery tool’s compatibility features also include the ability to create
the Recovery Drive on an optical disc.

 

 When Microsoft removed the Windows 7 File Recovery tool from
Windows 8.1, it also removed the ability to create a Recovery Drive on an
optical disc. This means that in Windows 8.1, you can only create a Recovery Drive
on a USB flash drive.

I’ve heard from a number of TechRepublic readers who are wondering
if there is a workaround that allows them to create a Recovery Drive on an
optical disc. The answer is yes and no. In this article, I’ll explain what this
means.

What is a Recovery Drive?

A Recovery Drive allows 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.x system. A Recovery Drive looks and works the same
in Windows 8.1 as it did in Windows 8; therefore, everything I wrote in
previous articles about the tools on the Windows 8 Recovery Drive still apply
in Windows 8.1.

The optical way in Windows 8.1

In Windows 8.1, you can create a Recovery Drive on a USB
flash drive using the same procedure as in Windows 8. In Windows 8.1, you get
an optical Recovery Drive by using your Windows 8.1 installation DVD. You
probably updated to Windows 8.1 via the Windows Store and don’t have a Windows
8.1 installation DVD, but you can get one by following the procedure I describe
in the article Get the ISO you need to create your own Windows 8.1 DVD.

To use a Windows 8.1
installation DVD, you boot your system from the DVD as you normally would.
You’ll see the first screen titled Windows Setup. As you see in Figure A, even though this is for
Windows 8.1, the logo still says Windows 8.

Figure A

 

 

The first Setup screen in Windows 8.1 still says Windows 8.

Even though you aren’t planning on installing Windows 8, go
ahead and click Next. You’ll see the second Windows Setup screen and, instead
of selecting Install Now, click the Repair Your Computer option at the bottom
of the screen (Figure B).

Figure B

 

 

Click the Repair Your Computer option.

You’ll be prompted to choose a keyboard layout, which will
seem redundant since you chose the Language in the first step. Once you select
a keyboard layout, you’ll see the first Recovery Drive screen. As you see in Figure C, you can tell that you’re
using a Windows 8.1 Recovery Drive.

Figure C

 

 

While the Setup screens showed Windows 8, the first Recovery Drive
screen shows Windows 8.1.

When you select the Troubleshoot option, you’ll be able to
access all of the standard Recovery Drive options you’ll need to revive your
Windows 8.1 system (Figure D).

Figure D

 

 

From a Windows 8 installation DVD, you’ll be able to access
all of the Recovery Drive options.

What’s your take?

Will you use your Windows 8.1 installation DVD as a Recovery
Drive, or will you just use a USB flash drive?

If you have comments or information to share about this
topic, please drop by the TechRepublic forums and let us hear from you.