How to fix “Insert media”: Some files are missing… in Windows 8

Win8 PC

In Windows 8, Microsoft is introducing two new innovated and very helpful features to recover Windows: Remove everything (formerly known as Reset your PC) and Refresh your PC. They both offer a unique ways to restore and to fix most issues in a Windows 8 PC. This is what the software giants calls Push Button Reset.

On paper, these features are great, because they also allow you to recover without using the installation DVD or USB drive. I said “on paper”, because in my experience it doesn’t work as smoothly as you would expect, many users, including me, are seeing at the time to reset or refresh the messages: “Insert Media” — “Some files are missing. Your Windows installation or recovery media will provide these files.” or “Couldn’t find necessary files” and it also asks you insert an installation media.

Win 8 - Insert Media

For most of us this is not a big deal, because we created an installation media after purchasing the OS or because we just simply bought the physical installation DVD. But why you should have to supply the files when you shouldn’t have to? You should be able to reset or refresh your PC without DVD or USB drive, besides having everything automated makes everything so much easier.

This behavior occurs in most cases after upgrading Windows 7 to Windows 8, because either system files are corrupt in some way or simply the necessary files just aren’t there. To fix this issue there are three things you can do (I would recommend you to try them all):

How to fix the missing files issue on Windows 8

Method one: Run the System File Checker (SFC)

The first thing you should do is to run the System File Checker (SFC) scan. This utility will repair (replace) any damage file in the operating system:

  1. Use the Windows key +X to bring the Power User menu and select Command Prompt (Admin).

  2. Type the following command and press Enter:

    sfc /scannow

    SFC Scannow command prompt

The /scannow switch is to scan all protected system files and to replace any incorrect version. Depending on your system configuration this may take some time. Once the scan completes try again to restore your system.

Method two: Create a new Windows account

One other thing you can do is to create a new user account, then try to reset or refresh and see if the problem continues. If neither of these options work, do the following.

Method three: Use the Reagentc command-line utility

This option should certainly solve the problem. Essentially what we do here is to provide Windows with all the files needed to successfully complete re-installation and we also tell the operating system where to find those files.

SEE ALSO: How to download the Windows 8 ISO again after upgrading your system

  1. Open Computer and create a folder at the root of C:\, you can name it almost anything, but try using something like WinRec. (If you use the name Recovery, you may get an error.)

    Recovery folder on C drive

  2. Insert the Windows 8 installation media, locate the Source folder, and copy the install.wim to the WinRec folder (FYI: the file is about 2GB). If you happen to have an ISO file, simply double-click it to mount the virtual disc, then browse and copy the wim file.

    Win 8 Install.wim image file download

    Info: The Install.wim is the Windows Imaging Format and it contains the necessary files to install Windows. Install.esd is the same but it is an encrypted version of the .WIM file.

    Now, this part is a bit tricky, because depending on how you obtained the installation media, you’ll find an install.wim or an install.esd file in the Source folder. And you must register a recovery image that is a Windows image (.wim) format.

    If you have an install.esd, you should try creating a custom refresh point (image) when you know your system is in a good working condition. This method will create an install.wim with your current system files that you can use to refresh your PC, but keep in mind that you cannot use this method “Remove everything”.

  3. Use the Windows key +X to bring the Power User menu and select Command Prompt (Admin).

  4. Type the following command to tell Windows where are those missing files that keeps asking:

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

    Reagentc command

Finally, exit the Command Prompt and try once again to Reset or Refresh your PC. Now you should be able to reset or refresh your PC without a USB drive or DVD.

It’s worth noting that if you don’t have an installation media because, for example, you did the upgrade from the desktop using the “Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant”; it will also work if you ask a friend for a retail DVD  and make a copy of the install.wim.

Update: If you recently updated to Windows 8.1 from the Windows Store, here is a new approach to resolve the “missing files” problem.

Update: You can now easily fix this issue by download and creating your own Windows 8.1 installation media and simply insert the USB drive or DVD when you’re prompted “Insert Media” — “Some files are missing. Your Windows installation or recovery media will provide these files.” or “Couldn’t find necessary files”. All the instructions you need are in this how-to guide I have created.

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 Email him at [email protected].