How To Create A Windows 8 Recovery Disk

The days of reinstalling Windows whenever your PC runs into trouble are long since gone. All you need to fix Windows 8 is a recovery disk, either on CD/DVD, USB drive or an external hard disk drive.

Whether you’ve upgraded from an old version of Windows or bought a new device, one of the first things that you should do is set up your own recovery disk, a process that basically installs a set of tools onto your chosen media that can then be used to repair issues with Windows 8.

These useful tools will enable you to boot your computer and run recovery tools, with the aim of quickly resolving problems caused by bad downloads, hardware installation faults or even a dodgy hard disk drive.

Recovery Disk vs. Recovery Partition

It may be the case that your Windows 8 PC has a recovery image (installed in its own partition) or even quick restore disks that shipped with the device that can be used to quickly overcome issues and reset your computer to the state it was in when you bought it.

The recovery disk tool that ships as part of Windows is at least an alternative that will save time and effort reinstalling your favourite applications and games – assuming the problems you’re experiencing are ones that can be fixed with the tools on offer.

You can check if your computer already has a recovery partition by opening the Charms bar, selecting Search and typing command. Right-click Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.

muo w8 recovery check   How To Create A Windows 8 Recovery Disk

In the Command Prompt box, type recimg /showcurrent and press Enter. If the message “There is no active custom recovery image” is displayed, then you will need to create one first before creating the recovery drive.

To save space on your HDD or SSD storage, you can delete the recovery partition later, but you will of course need your recovery disk (whether USB, optical or external hard disk) should you run into trouble at a later date.

What You Need For Creating Your Own Recovery Disk

After checking whether your computer has a recovery image installed, you will need to bring together the tools you need to create the recovery disk.

Although CD/DVD is a good option, you might be using a brand new computer with no optical drive. Fitting an external drive (or making your own) might be an option, but for speed you should rely on something a little more flexible, such as a USB flash drive or perhaps an SD card with a USB adapter, if you have a spare memory card.

muo w8 recovery usb   How To Create A Windows 8 Recovery Disk

If your computer doesn’t already have a recovery partition, it will need one setting up before the recovery disk can be created.

As described above, open the Command Prompt with administrative privileges and proceed to make a folder for the recovery image using mkdir c:\RefreshImage.  Tap Enter when you’re done, and prompt Windows to create the image in that folder with recimg –CreateImage c:\RefreshImage.

muo w8 recovery createimage   How To Create A Windows 8 Recovery Disk

Note that the USB flash drive or SD card that you use will be wiped clean in the process of creating a recovery drive. As such, you should remove and archive any vital data that is usually stored on it.

Create A Windows 8 USB Recovery Disk

To get started, in Windows 8 open the Charms menu and select Search. Enter Recovery, select Settings and then Create a recovery drive, agreeing to any prompts to enter your admin password. In the recovery drive tool, check the box for Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive and click Next.

muo w8 recovery recoverydrive   How To Create A Windows 8 Recovery Disk

You will then see a screen that displays the size of the recovery partition. You will need to ensure that the USB flash drive you are using is big enough, and connect it to your PC. If you’re intending to use an external hard drive, make sure you have created a dedicated partition of sufficient size for this purpose on the device.

Select the USB device you want to use as a recovery drive, click Next > Create and wait, following any on-screen prompts. When you’re done, click Finish.

(If you want to reclaim the space used by this process, you can remove the recovery partition by selecting Delete the recovery partition > Delete.)

Using Optical Media

If you prefer to use a CD or DVD (this might be a good idea if you think your USB device might fail) then you will need to follow a slightly different set of instructions. Before proceeding, however, make sure you have a writable CD or DVD in your optical drive.

After clicking Create a recovery drive, make sure that no boxes are checked (specifically the Copy the recovery partition… box) and click Next > Create a system repair disc with a CD or DVD instead.

With this option selected, the remainder of the steps above are the same. As long as the recovery drive will fit onto your CD or DVD, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Booting from the Recovery Disk

Should you ever need to use the recovery disk, you will need to insert it into your computer’s USB drive before booting up. From here, follow any onscreen prompts to boot the computer using the disk, select language settings and choose a recovery option.

Remember, there are other solutions to a failed Windows 8 installation. Chris Hoffman’s guide to restoring, refreshing and resetting Windows 8 covers these and explains the situations that each should be used in.

Conclusion: This Works For Windows 8 And RT!

Creating a Windows 8 recovery disk really is something that you should set time aside for to complete. You don’t know when it might prove a vital tool in restoring your computer without forcing you to resort to a reinstallation or quick restore disks – both of which are solutions that will delete any user data you have saved on your system drive (unless you sensibly utilise a secondary partition for personal documents and data).

Better still, the creation of a Windows 8 recovery disk works for both the standard Windows 8 and the RT alternative.

What is your preferred method of recovery and restoring data in Windows 8? Have you created a Windows 8 restore disk? Let us know your thoughts below.

Image Credits: MStick-Angle Via Flickr

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

46 Comments -

0 votes

VVS

I had created a recovery disc when the system was new, now the OS has had GB’s of updates. So do I need to create a new one to include those updates as well?

0 votes

DJ Fen Fen

I would say it is better safe than sorry. if you don’t want to wait, I suggest setting it up to do it, before you head to bed. When you wake up, it will be finished.

0 votes

Marcus

Sadly, yes. Especially if you’re using something that promises to be a broadband connection but is actually slower than the average snail. It might be worth looking into how to download and store and later install updates on a separate storage device to avoid having to wait for absolutely heaps of updates to download after a system recovery. Should probably post that question on bleepingcomputer.com or google the hell out of it?

0 votes

VS Vishnu

Thank you DJ Fen Fen and Marcus,
Like you mentioned, I do have a broadband connection slower that the average snail and hence I think it would be a good idea to create new discs once in a while.

0 votes

dudemancow

In Xp/Vista/7 days there were slipstreaming tools such as nlite/vlite to help you potentially automate the install, and you could include the updates in the install, among other things. I don’t know if this is available for Windows 8 yet, or if it’s worth it, as Windows 8 has an atrocious interface.

0 votes

Vs V

Thanks dudemancow, but a new disc once in a while might be an easier option for me.

0 votes

Suvadeep P

Thanks Christian.. Thats a very good and helpful article.. Can it be done in Windows 7 Home Premium Edition (64 Bit)? If yes, then please post the article link.

0 votes

Christian C

The process is quite different for Windows 7. We’ll perhaps address it in the next few weeks.

0 votes

danny6114

What size flash drive would you recommend? I have a 4g drive I received as a bonus to a purchase I made, though, this hardly seems large enough!

0 votes

Christian C

Danny, it depends on your installation and whether you’re using 32 bit or 64 bit. best way is to run through as per the guide and wait for Windows to tell you how much space you will require.

0 votes

danny6114

Yep, turns out I’m gonna need a 32g drive, I figured as much.

1 votes

Noah A

You can also do Win+X to launch an Admin CMD prompt. I find that way easier and quicker.

0 votes

Jerry L

My computer came with a Win 7 and recovery partition, and I installed Win 8 Pro. What now?

0 votes

Doug

First of I love MUO, great articles you guys rock1. Have a HP lap top, I went through your process and it read no recovery image, created one and tried to find create a recovery drive but only found HP Recovery Manager, opened up Create Recovery Media where I can create a recovery. I noticed the image box you have displayed reads Windows 7 Recovery, is that why I can only find Recovery Manager on my computer? Can I only create a recovery using the HP Create Media Recovery method, or is there another way? Also you mentioned using a CD, but the only options in the HP Media Recovery is USB, DVD or DVD DL, is there a way around this so I can use up my vast supply of CD-Rs? Also it reads your only allowed to make 1 set of recovery media, there will always be updates, is 1 copy good enough or is there another way to make copies?

0 votes

Dany

You have an error in the second picture where the command of creating the location for the recovery is typed as “recimage -CreateImage…” when it should be “recimg -CreateImage…”

0 votes

Donnie

Is there any way to make a separate space on my external hard drive so it won’t erase everything when copying the recovery drive over to the hard drive?

0 votes

II

“The days of reinstalling Windows whenever your PC runs into trouble are long since gone.” NO! These days just begin!! Claims that current situation is better are just advertisements. The days when badly broken windows Windows could be fixed easily just with option “setup has found previous windows installation. do you want to repair? ” are gone. Why to make easy repair of windows when yow can fore them to give you money for pointless and useless upgrade ? By the way what do you think about this message from the “repair” disk: “sfc has found corrupted files but was unable to repair” ? and for the hours and hours of reinstalling the software this message means ?

0 votes

Anthony

Great. Now how do you do the same thing, but with Win 7?

0 votes

Christian C

I believe someone will be addressing this in the coming days…

1 votes

matokne

After updating to 8.1, it doesn’t allow you to create recovery on Disc. Even after unchecking the box “Copy the recovery partition… box” there is no option to chose CD drive.

This is nothing but a deliberate attempt of Microsoft making it almost not possible for regular user to be able to have viable solution to retain a system he/she paid for.

0 votes

Troy

Yes, I was wondering the same thing with my modified Window 7-like Windows 8.1. I do not see the option with the Windows 8.1 version to create a CD or DVD!!! …only flash drive now. :-(

This poses a new question:
Is there a way to get the Windows 8.1 Recovery off the flash drive (that we are forced to do now) AND THEN BACK to a CD or DVD for safe keeping? If so, what are the instructions to do this? Please reply. Thanks!

1 votes

matokne

Note that “recimg –CreateImage c:RefreshImage” is the proper command to create image. On your screen shot it appears
“recimage -CreateImage c:RefreshImage”

Just wondering is this the same recovery disc image as the one created by using windows Create Recovery Drive option?

0 votes

Lawrence

Correct me if I am missing something, but to create a Refresh Image on a recovery partition, doesn’t the image need to be saved to an actual partition? Doesn’t the above method just put the refresh image in a folder on the c: drive? Or is that OK too?

0 votes

Christian C

Hi Lawrence

I depends how you want to set it up. I suggest using C: first because I have plenty of space on my system and it’s quicker to assess the space that will be required.

Once you’ve done that, you can delete the image and recreate on the correct drive letter (which I would rely on rather than copying to the recovery drive, *just in case*).

Thanks for your question.

0 votes

Lawrence

Hi Christian, thanks for the reply. So, you suggest I create an image in the way you explained in the article on C: (because it’s faster) and then before doing the refresh, copy that file over to another partition/drive?
I use a 240GB ssd for C: and I have a 3TB hdd for the D: data drive. Can I partition the hdd and make, for example, E: for the recovery files?
Or, back to my original query, is a whole separate partition even necessary? Can I leave the recovery image on the C: drive during the refresh? I guess I’m not sure how the refresh works exactly.

0 votes

Mark

Only one problem.. After I created a system image on my hard drive, the Recovery program would not let me copy it to my usb drive even though there was plenty of space. I read that you must have an oem recovery partition on the hard drive. What do I do to get the image onto the usb drive. You can’t just copy it. It is not allowed.

0 votes

Christian C

Have you attempted to create the system image direct to USB?

0 votes

Mark

This is not feasible because the usb drive is reformatted when the repair disk is created. At that time, nothing else can be written to the usb drive.

0 votes

Josh

Hi, what should I do now when I tried to create mkdir c:RefreshImage there is a message A subdirectory or file c: RefreshImage already exists. Can you help me out here. Thank you.

0 votes

Christian C

Hi – that would indicate that your system already has the folder. You should browse to the directory to check if it is populated with data. If so, use this – otherwise, delete and start from scratch.

0 votes

King

i followed your steps using the optical media. i finished burning the disc, is 345MB really the size of the whole repair disc? or did i do something wrong. please help

0 votes

Aziz

How can I find the recovery of windows 8 if I do not have the DVD-R or the CD setup.

0 votes

brian

my new HP came with windwos 8, there are two harddrives on it, C and D. The D drive is marked recovery. Is this my recovery info meaning i don’t have to create an external source?

0 votes

brian

my new HP came with windwos 8, there are two harddrives on it, C and D. The D drive is marked recovery. Is this my recovery info meaning i don’t have to create an external source?

0 votes

brian

my new HP came with windwos 8, there are two harddrives on it, C and D. The D drive is marked recovery. Is this my recovery info meaning i don’t have to create an external source?

0 votes

Christian C

Sounds like it. Best thing to do is try it out, or check your HP’s documentation. You may also find a HP utility on the computer that will handle the recovery based on this drive.

0 votes

KO

I can’t get the C: prompt command instead what I get is X:windowssystem32>
hence when i type in the recimg/showcurrent command it gives me an error – ‘recimg’ is not recognized as an internal or external command. what can i do?/

0 votes

Christian C

Sounds like you have installed Windows on X.

0 votes

asad ali

hi, Christian
i have same problem in new laptop there is no CD or DVD options only USB can make so there is already have recovery partition (one key recovery) Lenovo
i have 8 GB USB can i Create Windows 8 USB Recovery Drive or i have checked the box or need to leave unchecked i also bring 4 DVD-R can u please help me thanks .

0 votes

Mike M

Thanks for the helpful article.
I followed your instructions using my “USB drive”, which is an 80G IDE external. It was partioned into a 15G G: and 60G H:. G: was the XP boot drive for my old system. H: was now used for backing up my data files. After completion of “Create a recovery drive”, G: & H: were replaced with a 32G D: RECOVERY drive, which has 21G free. Why did it “remap” my drives into one new one, and where did my other 48G of drive go? Do I have to reformat the drive differently and start over? Thanks.

0 votes

Gail

Has a solution been found for creating a recovery drive after having upgraded to windows 8.1. ( I used windows upgrade to get the 8.1)?

I tried to create the recovery drive but I am not able to Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive ( this is greyed out/can’t tick the check box).

Thanks,
Gail

0 votes

sly

i have C and D partition. With ActiveBootDisk.ISO instaled on a USB memory stick (or CD ) I boot the PC and using PORTABLE MACRIUM REFLECT 5.2.6433 from D partition , I make an image of C partition- backup- (with clean WINDOWS ) on D partition (leaving partition C untouched).
To recover partition C ,I boot from USB memory stick (or CD) and using PORTABLE MACRIUM REFLECT 5.2.6433 from partition D I open the image from partition D and recover the partition C.
I know that seems difficult,but it’s not:I use ActiveBootDisk as second boot windows

0 votes

Joan Lucì Labòrda

The windows-8 system cannot been booted bu i could restart the PC on a linux live CD and make a copy of the recovery volume on a USB disk but i don’t know how to create a reinstallation CD from this copy.
Can you help ?

0 votes

Christian C

That seem a little beyond the scope of this post.

I suggest logging a question on MakeUseOf Answers to get the best response.

0 votes

TomG

I made a recovery disk for my Windows 8 laptop. A few months later it was upgraded to Windows 8.1. Do I need to remake the recovery disks?

0 votes

SM

I have the same problem. I have tried this, but still it asks for USB drive only. It s not accepting CD/ DVD. So what should I do?