How to fix Refresh and Remove recovery features after Windows 8.1 upgrade

Insert Media message Windows 8.1 upgrade

Using the Windows Store to upgrade Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 won’t allow you to create a USB/DVD installation media. Moreover, Microsoft has said that it won’t be making available Windows 8.1 in an ISO file format to the general public, only to new customers, TechNet and MSDN subscribers, everyone who previously upgraded to Windows 8 has install Windows 8.1 via the Windows Store.

This also means that in the future you to reinstall the operating system, you have to install Windows 8, go to the Store and download the update all over again.

The real problem comes after users is upgraded to 8.1 and try to use the Refresh your PC or Remove everything recovery features. They will get the message: “Insert Media: Some files are missing…” and because Windows 8.1 is a new operating system and you don’t have the installation files, users will practically hit a dead end.

Note: Refresh your PC, which will basically reinstall the operating system without losing personal files, Windows 8 apps, and settings. Then there is Remove everything, which is method to reinstall the operating system, but without keeping user files, settings, or applications.

Primarily users who upgraded to Windows 8 from Windows 7 or previous version will come across this issue. So, can you solve this? The best way would be for Microsoft to release an update to resolve this situation, but until that happens there are a few things you can do to prevent losing the ability to Refresh and Remove everything recovery features in Windows 8.1.

Before installing the update from the Windows Store, make absolutely sure you make a full backup of your system. I previously create a Windows guide to help you create a Windows 8 system image backup, this will help to recover your PC in case something goes wrong.

After you know you can go back to your previous installation, what you can do is to actually supply the necessary files that Windows is asking and you can tell the OS where to find these files.

1 Go to This PC and create a new folder in the C drive and name it: WinRec. (If you use the name Recovery, you may get an error.)

2 Because you obviously don’t have the Windows 8.1 installation files, our workaround is to manually create the installation image (or install.wim).

Couple of thing here, you want to do this when the system in new and clean. A custom “install.wim” file will contain all installation files, settings, and applications currently in your system, even personal files.

SEE ALSO: How to create a custom Refresh Point with Recimg.exe in Windows 8 (step-by-step)

3 Open the Command Prompt as an administrator and type the following command:

recimg /createimage C:\WinRec
Important: Make sure that you have enough free space in your hard drive. This will depend on your system configuration and application you have installed in Windows.

4 Next, type the following command to tell Windows where those missing files are:

reagentc.exe /setosimage /path C:\WinRec /target c:\Windows /Index 1

Finally, exit the Command Prompt and try once again to Remove everything or Refresh your PC.

If everything worked OK, you shouldn’t see “Insert Media: Some files are missing…” again and better yet, you’ll be able to reset your PC without a DVD or USB bootable media.

Here is another solution that is worth mentioning, if you happen to know a friend that bought the full version of Windows 8.1, you could ask this person for the media to copy the install.wim file located inside the SOURCE folder or just to get out of this situation.

Update: I also found a different way to solve this issue that involves downloading the Windows 8.1 Enterprise ISO file from Microsoft, you can find the instructions here.

Update: Problem solved! There is a new workaround that allows you download the Windows 8.1 ISO file using only your Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro product key that you can easily use to fix the “insert media” drama.

Mauro is a technology writer at and He’s been recognized as a Microsoft MVP, he’s also a technology enthusiast and enjoys writing content about Microsoft, Google, Apple, and other interesting technologies. Got a hat tip? Send him an email with your rants, rumors, tips and tattles.

Email @Pureinfotech
  • Dobster

    So I downloaded that Windows 8.1 ISO but don’t see the install.wim in the sources folder. I do see a boot.wim however. I set windows to show hidden files.

    • Mauro

      Hello Dobster,
      Do you see an install.esd file inside the Sources folder?


      • Dobster

        Sure do.

        • Mauro

          Hold on one second, If you already downloaded the WIndows 8.1 ISO, you don’t need to do this. Just make a bootable media, connect it to your PC, and do your Refresh or Remove recovery.


  • josh

    Windows writing the image, take ages :0

    • michael

      and how long is ages? i am doing this but curious how long is normal

      • Mauro

        Depending your hardware and apps installed, it should take about 1 or 2 hours.

  • Anusha Dharmasena

    let me get this straight.
    1. you first install windows 8
    2. then make a custom refresh folder in C:WinRec using recimg
    3. then you update to windows 8.1
    4. then you use reagentc to fix it for 8.1

    is that it?
    can you use reset as well? or you can do only refresh?

  • Mauro

    No, if you make a custom image of Windows 8, then you can fix Windows 8. If you one for Windows 8.1 then you can fix 8.1. They are both different operating system.

    The best way to move to Windows 8.1 is to do a clean install. This guide will help you:


    • Anusha Dharmasena

      sorry that’s not what i wanted to know.

      is there a way i can make a custom image so that i can use reset as well? not just refresh.

      • Mauro

        This guide to refresh and “remove”, which basically means “reset”. So this guide will help you with both.

        • Anusha Dharmasena

          you mean you can use Reset from PC Settings over and over with this custom refresh image? odoesn’t it clean the partitions and thus the image file when you do that?

          • Mauro

            Yes, the operating system is smart enough to format 100% the hard drive and use the custom image to reinstall Windows.


          • Anusha Dharmasena

            really? it works with refresh as well as reset right?

            is there any way i can play this custom refresh image in a hidden recovery partition like the ones that OEM PCs some with?

          • Mauro

            I’m sorry, my mistake, you can only use a custom image to refresh, no to reset.

            Again you won’t be able to reset your PC using this process.


  • Callum Hallett

    This didn’t work at all

  • John

    Late to the game… Does the recimg command only create a backup image of the C: Drive? I also have an internal hard drive I use for design files and I’m wondering if I need to do a separate type of backup.

  • hossam

    the recovery image cannot be written
    error code 0x80070005

    • Mauro


      Make sure you’re logged in as administrator and you’re using Command Prompt with administrator rights.
      For more info, check this Microsoft page


  • William Marsh

    How long does the writing of the image take? FFS.

  • David Osagiede

    I did all the steps and did admin command prompt. It still gives me “media is messing”

  • Nesta Mon

    Hey Im in quite a predicament and I REALLY hope ANYONE can help: SO I purchased a laptop from ebay,
    System Specs: MSI GX640US/2.6ghz/4GBRAM/AMD Mobility Radeon 5850 1gb VRAM/ And it came with Windows 8 installed, the seller did NOT include any store bought copy of Windows 8 or any product key.
    So I used it for a long time and was COMPLETELY satisfied with the purchase, then one day windows says theres a free update to Windows 8.1 available through the Store. So I thought “Hey if windows says theres an update I might as well take it right??” WRONG! Soon as it finished downloading and installing it then proceeded to ask me to ACTIVATE WINDOWS 8.1 with a provided PRODUCT KEY which I DONT HAVE. Then I do all this research only to find out Windows 8.1 cant allow a Factory Reset because of the dumb “insert media files” error which is provided from your installation disk of Windows 8….WHICH I DONT HAVE?? I tried contacting the seller multiple times, but its been a year or 2 since I bought it and he hasn’t replied. I see that his account sales are still recent so I KNOW he still goes online, but he wont reply to me. So PLEASE help, I have backed up all my important stuff and now I am just trying to figure out how to Factory Reset my laptop…I keep getting that “insert media files” error and I DONT HAVE THE INSTALLATION DISK OR ANY PRODUCT KEY TO ACTIVATE WINDOWS 8.1…..

    • Mauro

      That is a tough spot, you should have used a tool to grab the product key from your system before installing Windows 8.1, which you could have used to call Microsoft to re-activate Windows 8.1 after the upgrade.
      After the installation Windows 8.1 shouldn’t have asked to activate, but in rare cases it happens. It’s possible that the product key of Windows 8 wasn’t legit. Do you see a sticker in your laptop with a product key? If you don’t see one, it could be a sign that the product key wasn’t legit.

      You can call Microsoft, they will be able to tell you what happen. If there is something wrong with the installation, they will be able to re-activate your copy of Windows.