Creating a Windows 10 Recovery Drive could save you grief later on

Windows 10 Recovery DriveIf Windows 10 fails to load properly, there are options in what is known as the “recovery environment” for getting Windows to sort itself out. One of these options is to boot (start) your computer from a USB drive (or DVD) that has been specially prepared for your version of Windows. It is beyond the scope of this blog post to discuss in detail how you would use the recovery drive, but having one is the biggest part of the battle!

I would not want to suggest that such a “recovery drive” will get you out of trouble on every occasion, but if you are faced with a computer that will not start, a bit of earlier planning for such an eventuality could save you a lot of grief.

So why don’t I routinely create such a recovery drive when I help my IT support clients to set up a new computer? The answer to that is that it’s just a matter of costs and benefits. As I write this I am 45 minutes into creating such a recovery drive for one of my own (not very fast) machines and there’s no sign yet of how long it will take to finish. It just wouldn’t be worth what I would need to charge my clients when weighed against the chances of ever needing the drive.

So, how do you create a Windows USB Recovery Drive?

  • Acquire a USB drive with at least 16gb capacity. Note that any previous content on the drive will be deleted when preparing the recovery drive
  • Insert the drive into an available USB slot and ignore any window that might pop up asking you what to do with the drive
  • Click on the Windows Start button and then on the Settings icon (the cogwheel)
  • In the search box at the top of the Settings screen, type “create” (without the quotes)
  • Click on the option “Create a recovery drive” that will now be offered
  • Click on “yes” when asked “Do you want to allow this app…”
  • Make sure that the box is ticked next to “Back up system files to the recovery drive” and then click “Next”
  • After what could be quite a wait, click on the correct drive for the installation and then click on “Next”
  • Click on “Create”

Choose Drive

If you have any other external drives connected, make sure you choose the right one

After encouraging you to create your own recovery drive, I’m now going to appear to completely undermine my own advice by saying that, according to everything I’ve read, you ought to be able to use a recovery drive created on a completely different computer as long as the versions of Windows are the same. So, you can’t mix Windows 10 Home with Windows 10 Pro, for instance, and you can’t mix the 32 bit version of Windows with the 64 bit version.

Windows 10 Recovery Drive

..and here’s one I prepared earlier

You would think, therefore, that it would be easy to do a quick google and find someone selling such recovery drives already prepared. For some reason, they don’t seem to be there – at least, not stated unequivocally that they are such devices, how they were prepared, and at a reasonable price. Whether this is a copyright issue or Google choosing not to list such items I do not know, but the upshot is the same in that I encourage you to create your own recovery drive using your own copy of Windows.

All it will cost is a 16gb USB drive (about a fiver from Amazon or a bit more from Ryman) and a bit of your time to prepare it.

Note that this blog post has been written assuming that the recovery media will be a USB drive. You could also use DVDs, but I suspect this would take longer.

© 2011-2019 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
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