How to create a bootable USB Flash Recovery Drive in Windows 8


Windows 8 has the ability to create a bootable USB flash recovery drive that can be used to troubleshoot a Windows 8 computer that is unable to start. A recovery drive is the same as a startup repair disk, but instead of being on a CD/DVD it is on a bootable USB drive. Once you boot up a Windows 8 computer with a Recovery Drive you will have access to a variety of diagnostic and troubleshooting utilities that can help resolve issues you may be having.

Note
It should be noted that a recovery drive is not the same as a Windows 8 DVD and you cannot use it to install Windows 8. It is also important to create the recovery USB drive on the machine with the same bit-type as the one you need to repair. If you create the drive on a 32-bit machine you will only be able to repair 32-bit versions of Windows 8.

The same goes for 64-bit versions of the recovery drive. Last, but not least, Windows 8 will format the USB flash drive that you use to create the recovery drive. Therefore, make sure you backup all your data before beginning this process.

Applies to: Windows 8.1 If you run into problems with your PC running Windows, a USB recovery drive can help you troubleshootand fix those problems, even if your PC won't start.

Your PC might have come with a recovery image that's used to refresh or reset your PC. The recovery image is stored on a dedicated recovery partition on your PC, and is typically 3 to 6 GB in size. To save space on your PC, you can delete the recovery image from your PC and use a recovery drive instead.
Windows 8.1 includes a built-in tool to create a USB recovery drive. Windows will let you know how big the recovery partition is, and you'll need a USB flash drive at least that big.

WARNING
Creating a recovery drive will erase anything already stored on your USB flash drive. Use an empty USB flash drive or make sure to transfer any important data from your USB flash drive to another storage device before using it to create a USB recovery drive.

To create a USB recovery drive
Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. If you're using a mouse,
point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Search.
Enter recovery drive in the search box, and then select Create a recovery drive.

start menu recovery screen

After the recovery drive tool opens, make sure the Copy the recovery partition from the PC to
the recovery drive check box is selected, and then select Next.

Note
If the check box is greyed out then your PC doesn't have a recovery partition. The recovery drive will include only the recovery tools and a bootable image, but not a recovery image to use for refreshing or resetting your PC.

create recovery drive screen

Insert a USB flash drive into your PC that's at least as large as the size indicated on the screen.
Select the USB drive you'd like to use for your recovery drive, then select Next.

select usb flash drive

Select Create. The recovery image and necessary recovery tools will be copied to your USB flash drive, which will take a while, depending on your PC and the size of the recovery image.

create recovery drive

When the process is done, do one of the following:
If you want to keep the recovery partition on your PC, select Finish.
If you want to remove the recovery partition from your PC and free up disk space, select Delete the recovery partition. Then select Delete. This will free up the disk space used to store your
recovery image. When the removal is done, select Finish.

Note
If the check box was greyed out, then your PC did not have a recovery partition. The recovery drive will include only the recovery tools and a bootable image, but not a recovery image to use for refreshing or resetting your PC.
Some PCs don't offer the option to remove a recovery partition. If you experience this, there isn't a recovery partition on your PC that's using additional disc space.
Remove the USB flash drive. This is now your Windows 8.1 recovery drive, and you'll need it if you ever need to refresh or reset your PC. Keep it in a safe place and don't use it to store other files or data.

In the future if you need to use the recovery drive to start Windows, you can insert it into a Windows 8 machine and boot off of it. If you are unable to to boot off the USB drive then you will need to go into your BIOS and enable it as the first boot device. Once your computer starts booting up off the USB Recovery Drive, you will be presented with a screen asking what keyboard layout you would like to use.

choose keyboard layout

Select the keyboard layout you wish to use by left-clicking on it once. You will now be at a screen where you can choose an option to perform.

choose an option

You can either choose to Continue booting Windows 8, Turn off your PC, or use a variety of tools to Troubleshoot your Windows 8 installation. As you most likely are using the recovery drive because Windows 8 is not starting correctly, click on the Troubleshoot option. This will open the Troubleshoot screen that contains various tools that you can use to repair Windows 8.

toubleshoot screen

The Refresh your PC option allows you to reinstall Windows 8 while retaining your data. More information about this process can be found here:

How to reinstall Windows 8 while keeping your data using Refresh your PC

How to reinstall Windows 8 while keeping your data using Refresh your PC The Reset your PC options will perform a clean install of Windows 8 on your computer. This option will remove all the data on your computer, so please be sure to backup your data before performing this option. More information about the reset process can be found here:

How to perform a clean install of Windows 8 using Reset your PC

If you click on the Advanced options choice a new screen will open that contains other tools that you can use to troubleshoot Windows 8.

avanced options screen

The tools on this screen allow you to perform a variety of diagnostic and repair processes on your computer. These options are described below.

System Restore

This option allows you to use System Restore to restore your computer back to a state when it was working properly. For more information about this process, please see this:

How to use System Restore from the Windows 8 Recovery Environment

System Image Recovery

This option allows you to restore a system image that you may have created in the past. For more information about System Image Recovery, please see this tutorial:

How to use System Image Recovery in the Windows 7 and Windows 8 Recovery Environment

Automatic Repair

Automatic Repair tries to automatically detect and fix problems that may cause Windows 8 not to start. For more information on how to perform this procedure, please see this:

How to automatically repair Windows 8 using Automatic Repair

Command Prompt

The Recovery Command Prompt is a very powerful tool that provides access to your file system as well as a variety of repair tools. For more information on how to use the Windows 8 Recovery Command Prompt, please see this:

How to use the Windows 8 System Recovery Environment Command Prompt

When you are done using one of these tools, you will automatically be back at the Choose an option screen where you can continue to use these tools or continue to boot to Windows 8. Note
If your PC came with Windows 8 and you upgraded it to Windows 8.1, your recovery drive will include Windows 8, and you'll need to upgrade to Windows 8.1 after you refresh or reset your PC.

Can't start your computer? One possibility is that the Windows in your user login has corrupted files. Even if you can't start the pc with your login, you can always force the pc to show the built in Administrator login with no password.
There is a possibility that the files on that account are fine and you can try to make your usb drive into a recovery drive from the Admin Account.
See the guide on how to enable that Administrator account here and check out the menu in the left column on our main page for other tips on emabling the Administrator account







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