How To Create a Windows 10 Recovery Disk
When it comes to operating systems, Windows 10 is more reliable than anything Microsoft has ever made before. Now nearly six years old, Windows 10 has become Microsoft’s main focus, as they iterate and improve on what was first offered in August of 2015 rather than constantly developing a new operating system for their customers. Every few months we see Microsoft push out a new major update for Windows 10, and each time the OS grows and improves for regular users and enterprise customers alike.
Windows 10 may be as solid as ever, but things can still go wrong. If you depend on your computer for anything, it makes sense to keep your data as safe as possible, and to take the steps to ensure you can get your computer up and running again as soon as possible. That’s why it’s a fantastic idea to put some time aside today and create a Windows 10 recovery disk.
In fact, making this disk isn’t just good for a backup. Installing a fresh copy of Windows 10 is one of the best ways to speed up your computer, and a recovery disk makes it quick and easy to do. You won’t even need an actual physical disc to do it—any media, including a USB drive, is perfect for creating a recovery disk. Here’s how to do it.
The Value of a Recovery Disk
A Windows 10 recovery disk is like insurance for your home or car. It’s a pain and costs money to keep up and you never really see the benefit of it. Until you need it. Then insurance is the best thing since mustard on a hot dog.
The same for Windows 10 backups and recovery disks. They take time to set up, take up disk space or a USB drive and serve no real use. Until you need it. With a recovery disk you can be up and running again quickly and without losing too much data or productivity. So yes it takes a little while to get set up, but once it is done, it’s done and you will be protected.
Create a Windows 10 Recovery Disk
To create a Windows 10 recovery disk you will need either an 8-16GB USB drive or a DVD writer and blank DVD(s). You can do this one of two ways. You can create a recovery disk from within Windows or use the Media Creation Tool from Microsoft. I’ll show you both.
You also have the option to either create a vanilla Windows 10 installation or to back up your config files too. If you choose to backup your files, Windows will back up some of your customizations. It will back up drivers, apps, any customizations you have made to Windows, power plan settings and a range of other files. These files will be necessary should you need to run either Reset this PC or Recover from a drive commands in advanced startup. I would always recommend including these files if you have a disk large enough.
Create a Windows 10 Recovery Disk From Within Windows
This is the simplest way to create a recovery disk and takes around 15-20 minutes depending on how fast your computer is and how much data you need to back up.
- Navigate to Control Panel and Recovery.
- Select Create a recovery drive and insert your USB or DVD.
- If you want to back up system files, make sure the box is ticked before clicking Next.
- Wait for Windows to detect the destination drive and list it then click Next. All data on a USB drive will be wiped as part of this operation. The DVD will need to be blank of course.
- Follow the wizard as prompted to create the recovery disk and then give it time to create it.
Create a Windows 10 Recovery Disk Using the Media Creation Tool
The Media Creation Tool is a very useful program from Microsoft that allows you to create a fresh image of Windows 10 to use to rebuild your computer.
- Download and open the Media Creation Tool.
- Select the correct version of Windows 10, 32-bit if you have 32-bit Windows and 64-bit if you have 64-bit Windows. You must get this part right otherwise it won’t work.
- Select ‘Create installation media for another PC’.
- Select the Language, Windows 10 edition and the version. Again, you must get this right otherwise the disk won’t work.
- Select your disk medium, USB or DVD.
- Wait for Windows to download the necessary files and create the disk.
Using the Microsoft Media Creation Tool means you get a brand new and updated Windows 10 image but does require a download of around 3.5GB to create. Make sure you don’t use this tool if you have a restricted data plan. The upside is that the image is regularly updated by Microsoft so you shouldn’t have to then run Windows Update for too long afterwards.
How to Use a Windows 10 Recovery Disk
If something goes wrong with your computer, you need to know how to use your new Windows 10 recovery disk. Fortunately, it is very simple.
- Reboot your computer with the recovery disk inserted.
- Select the option boot from the recovery disk in the advanced boot menu that appears. If this menu doesn’t appear, access your BIOS and select boot menu from there.
- Select Troubleshoot and Recover from a drive.
- Follow the prompts to allow Windows to rebuild using the recovery disk
That’s it! Your computer will use the data stored on the recovery disk to rebuild itself and return to working order. The process can take a while. Much depends on how much data you have in your recovery disk and the speed of your computer. Allow between 10-20 minutes for the process.
Other Options for Backing up Windows 10
As well as creating a Windows 10 recovery disk you can also use third party software to clone your boot drive. These are usually premium applications that will take a direct copy of your hard drive and recreate it bit by bit onto another drive, but there are some open-source options available to you. If you happen to have a spare drive lying around, this is certainly an option.
A great program for creating clones of disks and partitions in Clonezilla. All you need is a USB flash drive and a system with 196 MB of RAM to get started. You can easily clone a drive in a matter of minutes with this software.
If you’re familiar with Linux, then GParted is a great tool to use for managing and cloning a disk. Equipped with a user-friendly GUI, you can easily navigate the program with little to no experience necessary.
There are several other open-source programs available to clone disks, such as dd (Linux/Unix), HDClone, Ghost, and Mondo Rescue. Check out one of these programs if you want to expand your backup program knowledge beyond what Windows has to offer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Create a Recovery Drive on One Computer and Use it on Another?
Yes, you can use a recovery drive on another computer, but only if they have the same make and model, as in system architecture. Or, you can create a generic version of a recovery drive that doesn’t include the System files, which are specific to the PC.
All you need to do is de-select the System files option when creating the recovery drive.
How Do I Create a Windows Repair Disk?
Similar to the process above, go to your Control Panel and click on System and Security.
Next, click on Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
Now, click on Create a system repair disc.
Insert your media, and select Create disc.
After a few minutes, you’ll be all set to repair your drive if an issue occurs.
When Should I Create a Recovery Disk?
Ideally, you want to create a recovery disk when you first install Windows 10 onto a computer. Then, if you feel it’s needed, create a recover disk that includes the System files before installing some questionable software or update.
Although you can simply rollback a restore point to eliminate the changes, it’s nice to have a failsafe if something doesn’t work right.
Hard drive cloning is a way to make sure your computer is always available and is a useful tool for making a more complete version of a recovery disk. The downside is that most of the software required to create a clone costs money and you also need a spare hard drive. There are some free software that can do the job, give them a try before making an investment.
If you spend a lot of time on your computer, making a Windows 10 recovery disk is a no brainer. Yes you need a spare USB drive or blank DVD(s) and 20 minutes of your time. But in return, you get to recover a failed computer within half an hour rather than much longer. Well worth doing in my book.