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

Custom Refresh Point - Windows 8

In Windows 8, Microsoft has introduced two really nifty system recovery tool features: “Refresh your PC without affecting your files” and “Remove everything and reinstall Windows”. This first feature helps you when your PC isn’t working well by reinstalling Windows, but without losing your data or your Windows 8 apps, and the second feature “Remove everything” is a really good options is you want to completely start from scratch (reset to factory) or recycle your PC without giving away your personal information.

Both features are great, the problem with these features are that desktop applications like iTunes, Chrome, Photoshop or websites are not kept. This translate and many unnecessary hours reinstalling and reconfiguring those applications you use everyday.

To mitigate this issue, Windows 8 includes a new command utility called Recimg.exe, that will help you to create a custom Windows 8 Refresh Point (or recovery image) which may include special Windows settings, desktop applications and more. Even though this is done through a command line utility, it is not something difficult to do, using Recimg you’ll only need to point to a target location to save the Windows Installer Image (WIN) image format and configure custom Refresh your PC image a default & active.

Steps to create a custom Refresh Point in Windows 8

1. In the Start Screen type cmd, right-click and select Run as administrator.

2. In Windows Command Prompt type the following and press Enter:

recimg /createimage C:\Custom_Image_Refresh
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.

Recimg Createimage - Windows 8

The “C:\Custom_Image_Refresh” in the command is just the path to where I want to store the recovery image — you can add your own location and folder name –, and as you might have guessed the /createimage is a switch from recimg that is use to create a custom Windows 8 Refresh image. It’s also important to note that the /createimage switch will also set this new custom recovery image as the new default & active. You can always keep more than one Refresh Point image, but if you want to use one of them, you’ll need to manually set it as default & active.

To configure a custom Refresh Point as default & active you have to open the Command Prompt as administrator and type the following:

recimg /setcurrent C:\Custom_Image_Refresh

Recimg Setcurrent - Windows 8

Remember to replace the “C:\Custom_Image_Refresh” with the path to where you have saved the custom image. If for any reason Windows doesn’t find the custom recovery image in the specified location, Windows will fall back to the default image (or installation media) when you refresh your PC.

Important: You cannot use a custom recovery image to reset your PC, you can only use it to refresh.

What you’ve done so far is to create and configure a default custom Refresh your PC image. Now when it comes the time and you need to refresh your PC:

1. Move the mouse pointer to the top-right or bottom-right of the screen and from the Charms, click or tap Settings and then click on Change PC settings.

2. From PC settings, click on General and on Refresh your PC without affecting your files, click on Get started.

3. Finally, click Next, Refresh and wait for Windows 8 to finish.

Important: The custom recovery image will not include Metro style apps, documents, personal settings, or user profiles, because that information is preserved when you refresh your PC.

The good thing about this process is that you can always go back and use Microsoft’s Windows 8 default to Refresh your PC image, you can do this by using the Recimg.exe utility with the /deregister switch. And to check which custom image is current you can use the /showcurrent switch.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].