Create a USB recovery drive

If you run into problems with your PC running Windows, a USB recovery drive can help you troubleshoot and 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.

To create a USB recovery drive

  1. 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.)
  2. Enter recovery drive in the search box, and then select Create a recovery drive.
  3. 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.
  4. Insert a USB flash drive into your PC that's at least as large as the size indicated on the screen.
  5. Select the USB drive you'd like to use for your recovery drive, then select Next.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.


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Article ID: 17422 - Last Review: May 11, 2016 - Revision: 25

  • Windows 8.1
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