Introduction

This guide will walk you through the steps required to make a USB repair disk for Windows 10, which ideally should be done before a problem presents itself. A best practice is to make one of these with an old USB stick and leave it in a drawer for a "rainy day".

However if you are having difficulty booting into your OS this can be done using another Windows PC.

Parts

No parts required.

Go to: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/software...

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If you have UAC enabled click "Yes"
  • If you have UAC enabled click "Yes"

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Click "Accept" Option: Actually read T&Cs
  • Click "Accept"

  • Option: Actually read T&Cs

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Select "Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD or ISO file) for another PC"
  • Select "Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD or ISO file) for another PC"

  • Click "Next"

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If you are creating a USB for another computer take care to get these settings correct for the computer it will be used on. Language is not so important as it can be changed later.
  • If you are creating a USB for another computer take care to get these settings correct for the computer it will be used on. Language is not so important as it can be changed later.

  • If you are creating a back up for the computer you are running the tool on, selecting the check box "Use the recommended options for this PC" will select the settings automatically.

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Select "USB flash drive"
  • Select "USB flash drive"

  • Click "Next"

  • By selecting "ISO file" you can create a disk image that can be burned to a CD or USB at a later date.

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Now select the USB drive you wish to put the tool on.
  • Now select the USB drive you wish to put the tool on.

  • If your drive does not appear here, make sure it is correctly inserted and detected by Windows.

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Now windows will download and verify the installation files. Now windows will download and verify the installation files. Now windows will download and verify the installation files.
  • Now windows will download and verify the installation files.

+1 not bad. Not bad at all.

George A. - Reply

What'd you do that blur with? PS?

George A. - Reply

Yeah, I used Gaussian blur in Photoshop.

Conor Bailey - Reply

Now windows will write the installation files to your drive. Now windows will write the installation files to your drive.
  • Now windows will write the installation files to your drive.

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Once it's finished writing to the disk click "Next" And after a short wait you're done!
  • Once it's finished writing to the disk click "Next"

  • And after a short wait you're done!

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Conclusion

To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse order.

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Conor Bailey

Member since: 04/27/2016

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14 Comments

Mr. Bailey. How is this Boot drive different from the Recovery drive that I create directly from my PC? Thanks.

John Norton - Reply

They do the same thing essentially, they allow you to boot and recover your windows installation. However there is a one difference and that's that, I believe, the recovery drive tool only gives you the option to create a disk for the computer you are using. It's exactly like the recovery partition that some computers and laptops have.

My guide is quite generic in that you could create the disk for any Windows 10 installation.

Thanks for the question.

Conor Bailey -

I recommend you add something about how to boot from the USB drive, especially on a machine that has UEFI SecureBoot enabled.

Bill Meacham - Reply

I agree that that part of the process is important, however there are so many variables to uefi that writing a coherent guide for that would be difficult. Not to mention that screen shotting those steps a more difficult (although obviously not impossible).

But thank you for the feed back, I'll consider it in the future.

Conor Bailey -

for the second step, what you mean UAC pls?

solfish solfish - Reply

It's a feature of windows called User Access Control and is the name for the pop up asking for permission to run an app.

This feature can be disabled which is why I say if.

Conor Bailey -

how much is the space size needed to create this usb boot drive ?

Rafael Estevez (TechnoWit) - Reply

It recommends a 4gb drive but I’ve seen people say that it’s actually 4.2-5.1 depending on various factors, so to stay on the safe side I recommend 8gb.

Conor Bailey -

Why is this called a Recovery drive and spoken of as a last resort?

On Mac I can use an external USB SSD to run the system full-time. This might be done to speed an old (pre-SSD) machine, or to keep using a machine whose internal HD has died and it’s a pain to crack the machine open to replace it.

Can one not do the same thing on a Windows machine — ie create a REAL external boot drive (preferably USB-3 SSD) and run from that full time, ignoring the internal drive?

This is not an attempt to score points. I honestly want to solve this problem — run some windows machines faster by using an external SSD.

name99 - Reply

Hi name99, it’s an interesting question, there used to be a portable version of windows called windows to go (or something similar) but I don’t think it caught on.

Really what your describing here are key differences between Windows and OS X, tbh OS X is a very resilient, extensible OS and in my opinion Windows has some way to go in terms of end user recovery.

OS X has a lot of features that allow it to work outside its normal operating parameters like booting from USB and it’s excellant recovery options. Windows on the other hand has been playing catch up in these departments, only really having a proper recovery facility since the release of 10, which is the point of this guide to not only make people aware that’s it’s there but how to use it effectively.

Conor Bailey -

thanks for the guide - one note, maybe mention that the boot drive creation will effectively overwrite all data existing on the stick….

i missed that entirely, and am in the process of TRYING to recover 300plus Gigs of data that was on the USB external storage drive used...

i had used a handy stick but it failed to create due to size, so i grabbed my backup external drive, thinking that this boot would simply create a folder or something…. all gone.

i am in the process of switching PCs - that external drive contained all the data from the old machine. sigh

Sikali X - Reply

My apologize for the inconvenience, it does say in the dialog box in step 7 it does say in clear terms that all data will be deleted that all data should be backed up, although my guide fairly easy in terms of steps you should always read each dialogs yourself and fully understand what it is your doing. Creating a bootable disk ALMOST ALWAYS deletes and reformats the data on the host disk.

I hope you get your data back.

Conor Bailey -

win7 for again this processes valid is it?

ftasdemir398 - Reply

Yes it is basically the same process for Win7 or 8. For either of these however, there is no easy to use tool directly from MS. But fear now, simply Google “Windows 7 ISO” (or 8 in-place of the 7) and then go from there to get the ISO. Just ensure it’s from Microsoft’s official website. Once you download your ISO file, use RUFUS to do the rest. Make sure your 4GB minimum sized USB Flash Drive is connected and ready to be wiped. Run Rufus from C-Drive and where it says “Create bootable from” change the option to “ISO File” then click the icon next to that to point to your ISO file. Once selected the rest of the options will get auto-filled, once that happens, do not change them. Now click START and it will format + extract ISO contents + make bootable; your flash drive. You also can use a USB Card Reader and SD/MicroSD card; as these are basically what a flash drive is, except flash drives have non-removable chips is all. Once Rufus is finished click Close and then properly click “Eject” on your drive letter.

Bad-Motha -

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