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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more on this topic, take a look at Windows PE-based recovery discs for your system.
Image Credits: MStick-Angle Via Flickr