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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.

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muo-w8-recovery-check

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 Top Tools for Managing and Maintaining Your SSD Top Tools for Managing and Maintaining Your SSD Did your SSD start out Usain Bolt fast, but now limps along? You can whip your drive back into shape using a handful of toolkits and optimization software, but caveat emptor: Some SSD optimization software... Read More , 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 No DVD Drive On Your Tablet Or Notebook? Use An Old Laptop Drive Instead! No DVD Drive On Your Tablet Or Notebook? Use An Old Laptop Drive Instead! More and more Windows computers are shipping without optical drives, and this is a phenomenon that exists beyond the tablet PC. The lack of a DVD drive might prevent you from installing your favourite apps... Read More ) 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 7 Awesome Uses for an Old SD Card 7 Awesome Uses for an Old SD Card Whether your old SD card is a meager 64 MB or a massive 64 GB, various projects exist for you to make use of these storage cards. Read More .

muo-w8-recovery-usb

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

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

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 How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation In addition to the standard System Restore feature, Windows 8 has features for "refreshing" and "resetting" your PC. Think of these as ways of quickly re-installing Windows -- either keeping your personal files or deleting... Read More 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 How To Move My Documents Folder To A Different Drive How To Move My Documents Folder To A Different Drive Read More ).

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

  1. Danielle Smith
    January 22, 2016 at 3:32 am

    Seeing as I already described the current problem I'm experiencing on a discussion forum on the microsoft site, I'll just copy and paste it here:

    I have a Sony Vaio VGN-NW350F laptop computer that was recently given to me. I know that originally, this laptop ran on Windows 7, but before the laptop was given to me, a new hard drive that runs on Windows 8 was installed. I'd like to do a recovery, but every time I try, it says "insert media some files are missing. your windows installation or recovery media will provide these files". The problem is, I don't have any of that. So, I looked it up, and I was considering making a recovery DVD, but it says that I need to have a previously installed version of windows, so I tried to upgrade to windows 8.1, but it won't work. Do I actually need to do this or can I just make the recovery DVD's and go ahead with the system recovery? Please help! I'm absolutely lost!!

    Would the steps in this work for my problem? Any help is GREATLY appreciated!! :)

  2. Xie Min Xuan
    June 8, 2015 at 5:41 am

    Do I need a recovery disk for each of my computers?

    • Christian Cawley
      June 8, 2015 at 1:11 pm

      As they're probably different devices, yes.

  3. tony
    May 1, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Do I need the recovery drive before re-install Windows 8? If Yes, can I create the recovery drive in other PC, then use it to my ultra-book.

  4. tony
    May 1, 2015 at 11:26 am

    help2, My ultrabook Acer Aspire IP3 can't operate now. auto repair, refresh and reset doesn't work. I have the Windows 8 recovery DVD but the system said the this is not the valid media for recovery. What should I do. pls help urgent. thanks

  5. Walter Santiago
    April 14, 2015 at 8:52 am

    I have a 32Gb ASUS T100 that has a built-in SD drive slot and I have a 32Gb SD card. My T100 has a recovery partition and the 32Gb in my C drive is almost full. My question is, Can I copy my Windows 8 recovery partition from the C drive into the SD card so I can delete the partition and recoup that space on my C drive? And if yes, how I would then use the SD drive and card to do an actual recover? Can I make my BIOS to boot from the built-in SD slot/card? In your article you do mention using SD cards but only the one built-in in USB sticks. My tablet has one USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 port but I would rather use the SD slot and the SD card for they both are 32Gb. Is there any way to use my 32Gb SD slot/card combo to accomplish this? I would like to participate in the Windows 10 beta test but I want to make sure that I can go back to 8 in case something happen. The problem is that the Windows 10 install will wipe out the whole C drive including the recovery partition. My recovery partition let me repair and let me bring back my table to factory setting. If I successfully do the copying , would the SD (or the USB for that matter) also have both options? (repair and back to factory?) Thanks in advanced for you time.

  6. Dean
    April 12, 2015 at 3:52 am

    HI again, the external problems have been solved.
    My question now is , is it possible to create more than one recovery drive?

    Thanks

  7. Dean
    April 8, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    HI,
    I need help here :)
    I had just bought a new laptop and therefore created a recovery drive
    Firstly i used a 1Tb external hard disk to it and after finishing creating, my whole 1 Tb became a 31gb hard disk with 11gb being used as the recovery files.
    So I then use another 16gb pendrive to use as a recovery drive, this time it only took 312 mb space of 14.4gb.
    Can i ask why is this happening ? Is it due to we only can do the recovery drive for 1 time only?
    Or can I copy those files from the external hard disk to my pendrive ?

    • Christian Cawley
      April 10, 2015 at 7:35 pm

      Sounds as though your 1TB external HDD has a lot of unused space. Have you tried viewing it in Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Storage > Disk Management?

  8. vakil
    February 22, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    i have a recovery disc on my hard drive,but i want copy it to external cd or dvd,my question is will my personal data get deleted ?? plz answer

    • Christian Cawley
      February 24, 2015 at 6:14 pm

      If all you're doing is burning the recovery to disc, then no, no personal data will be deleted.

      If, however, you then use the recovery option to reset Windows 8, then yes, your personal data will be deleted.

  9. DougL
    January 30, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    When reading the procedure for creating a recovery disk I don't see how the system image made/stored by "recimg -Createimage C:RefreshImage" gets used. Isn't this a new image? When using the Create command I would think you would be using the existing image that is stored on an existing partition of the hard drive and not the new one in the folder.

  10. RodC
    January 20, 2015 at 10:16 am

    The correct syntax is recimg /createimage not -createimage Please see recimg /? for complete details. I suggest correcting this page so readers aren't confused & have to read all the comments.

  11. peter
    January 11, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    thank you

    I have a question if I may.............
    How can I test the recovery USB flash drive to see if it will work, God forbid one day when the computer does not start?
    thanks, cheers
    peter

    • Christian Cawley
      January 11, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      Hi Peter - creation features various verification steps, so as long as it is a healthy USB stick then there *should* be no issues.

      The only real step you can take to avoid problems is ensure everything vital is backed up (which of course it should be) and perhaps take steps to backup your system as a virtual device as per https://kb.acronis.com/content/35282

  12. Manu
    December 10, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    Hi,
    Thanks for your help to create the recovery file.
    It was not working on my Lenovo Tablet 2 32Gb from the Windows menu
    Now I have the file, but I need to recover the OS on a new motherboard...
    What is the best way to use it with a USB stick (the only solution available ...) ?
    I didn't find it in Chris Hoffman’s guide ...

    Thanks

  13. SM
    March 28, 2014 at 6:05 am

    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?

  14. TomG
    March 3, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    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?

  15. Joan Lucì Labòrda
    February 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    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 ?

    • Christian C
      February 21, 2014 at 9:40 pm

      That seem a little beyond the scope of this post.

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

  16. sly
    February 5, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    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

  17. Gail
    January 28, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    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

  18. Mike M
    January 21, 2014 at 3:56 am

    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.

  19. asad ali
    January 18, 2014 at 7:49 am

    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 .

  20. KO
    January 9, 2014 at 5:17 am

    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?/

    • Christian C
      January 14, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      Sounds like you have installed Windows on X.

  21. brian
    January 1, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    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?

    • Christian C
      January 14, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      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.

  22. brian
    January 1, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    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?

  23. brian
    January 1, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    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?

  24. Aziz
    December 30, 2013 at 11:37 am

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

  25. King
    December 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    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

  26. Josh
    December 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    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.

    • Christian C
      December 4, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      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.

  27. Christian C
    December 1, 2013 at 9:41 pm

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

    • Mark
      December 2, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      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.

  28. Mark
    December 1, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    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.

  29. Christian C
    November 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    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.

    • Lawrence
      November 17, 2013 at 6:07 am

      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.

  30. Lawrence
    November 12, 2013 at 10:41 am

    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?

  31. matokne
    October 26, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    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?

  32. matokne
    October 26, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    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.

    • Troy
      October 28, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      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!

  33. Anthony
    October 17, 2013 at 5:38 am

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

    • Christian C
      October 18, 2013 at 9:19 am

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

  34. II
    October 10, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    "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 ?

  35. Donnie
    October 8, 2013 at 1:24 am

    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?

  36. Dany
    October 6, 2013 at 4:34 am

    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..."

  37. Doug
    October 2, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    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?

  38. Jerry L
    October 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm

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

  39. Noah A
    October 2, 2013 at 7:04 pm

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

  40. danny6114
    October 1, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    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!

    • Christian C
      October 1, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      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.

    • danny6114
      October 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm

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

  41. Suvadeep P
    October 1, 2013 at 8:13 am

    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.

    • Christian C
      October 1, 2013 at 10:16 am

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

  42. VVS
    October 1, 2013 at 5:31 am

    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?

    • DJ Fen Fen
      October 1, 2013 at 7:03 am

      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.

    • Marcus
      October 8, 2013 at 11:41 am

      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?

    • VS Vishnu
      October 8, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      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.

    • dudemancow
      October 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm

      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.

    • Vs V
      October 12, 2013 at 4:30 am

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

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