Create a recovery drive on Windows 10

How to create a recovery drive on Windows 10

Here are the steps to create and use a recovery drive to troubleshoot and fix any problems in Windows 10, even if your PC won't start.

On Windows 10, you get a number of recovery options, including the ability to create a recovery drive, which you can use on your computer to access the Advanced startup options to troubleshoot and fix issues, even if the device won’t start.

If your computer also includes a recovery partition, you can copy it to the recovery drive, which you can then use to reset your computer to the default factory settings. Additionally, after copying the recovery partition, you’ll get the option to delete it from your hard drive to free up some space.

In this guide, you’ll learn the easy steps to create and use a Windows 10 recovery drive to troubleshoot, fix, and reinstall the operating system as necessary.

How to create a recovery drive on Windows 10

To create a Windows 10 recovery drive, do the following:

  1. Insert a USB drive with enough storage to your computer. (The size will depend on the size of the recovery partition.)

  2. Open Start, do a search and launch Create a recovery drive.

  3. Check the Back up system files to the recovery drive. (Recommended, if you want to copy the recovery drive to the USB.)

    Recovery Drive - Back up system files option
    Recovery Drive – Back up system files option
  4. Click Next.

  5. Select the USB drive you want to use from the list and click Next.

    Recovery Drive - Select USB drive
    Recovery Drive – Select USB drive
  6. Click Create to begin the process.

    Recovery Drive - Create USB drive step
    Recovery Drive – Create USB drive step
  7. Click Finish to complete the task.

Once the process completes, you’ll be prompted whether you want to delete the recovery partition. If you have more than enough available space, you can leave it. However, if you have a device which is low on storage, you can delete it to save several gigabytes.

If you’re creating a recovery partition for a Surface device, you can safely delete the partition. In the future, you can download the recovery image from Microsoft support or even without a recovery image.

How to use a Windows 10 recovery drive to fix your PC

Windows 10 comes with many recovery options built-in, which means that most of the time you won’t need to use the recovery drive.

The operating system is smart enough to detect when it’s unable to boot and at the third time it fails to start, it’ll automatically boot into its Advanced startup options, which you can use to troubleshoot and repair virtually any issue on your PC.

However, there will be times when your device is so broken that won’t even boot into recovery mode. In this case, you’ll connect the USB recovery drive you created into your PC to start in recovery mode.

Advanced startup options

After starting your PC with the USB recovery drive, you’ll get into the Advanced startup options, which you can use to troubleshoot and fix your computer.

In the advanced options, you can use a number of recovery options. For example, you can use a restore point to go back to a time where your computer worked correctly. You can use recovery using system recovery image that you might have previously created. You can also select the Startup Repair to let Windows 10 automatically fix any problem.

Windows 10 Advanced options
Windows 10 Advanced options

In addition, there is an option Command Prompt, which you can use to manually troubleshoot and fix the issue, you can change the startup settings, or go back to a previous version of Windows 10 (if available).

If nothing works, outside the Advanced options, there “Reset this PC” option, which allows you to reinstall Windows 10 with the option to keep your files, settings, and apps or you can choose to do clean install of Windows 10 by removing everything.

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 14 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 20 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 About.me. Email him at [email protected].