Know what to expect from the Windows 8 Recovery Drive

There are a total of 16 pages of keyboard layouts.

This gallery is also available as a post in the Windows and Office Blog.

In last week's post, Create a Recovery Drive in Windows 8, I showed you how to create a Recovery drive using both a USB flash drive and an optical disc. While knowing that you have a Recovery Drive provides you with a certain level of comfort, using it is another story. The only time you'll ever get to see what the Recovery Drive looks like or see how it works, is when you need to use after a disaster has occurred. And, chances are that you'll be pretty stressed at that point and won't really want any more uncertainty in your life.

With that in mind, in this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to use the Windows 8 Recovery Drive. That way, if the time comes when you need to use it, you'll know exactly what to expect.

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

Note: In a series of follow-up articles, I'll be showing you in detail how each one of the recovery tools on the Windows 8 Recovery Drive works.


Regardless of whether you are using a Recovery Drive from a USB flash drive or from 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 to boot up and repair a 64-bit system.

Getting started

When you boot from the Windows 8 Recovery Drive (USB flash drive or an optical disc), you'll see the Windows logo displayed on a black screen for few moments. In the background, your PC is actually booting in the Windows Recovery Environment or more simply Windows RE. As you can imagine, Windows RE is based on Windows PE (Windows Preinstallation Environment).

You'll then see the screen shown in Figure A, where you are prompted to choose a keyboard layout. For example, you might click US. If you do not see your keyboard layout on this first screen, click the See more keyboard layouts link until you find one that fits. There are 15 additional pages of keyboard layouts arranged in alphabetical order.

Credit: Images by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic

By Greg Shultz

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.