This article is about how to create a USB recovery drive and use it to recover Windows 8/8.1. If you are running Windows 10, please check Windows 10 steps.
If you run into problems with your PC, a USB recovery drive can help you troubleshoot and fix those problems, even if your PC won't start. Your PC might have come with a recovery image that’s used to refresh or reset your PC. The recovery image is stored on a dedicated recovery partition on your PC, and is typically 3-6 GB in size. Windows 8.1 includes a built-in tool to create a USB recovery drive. Windows will let you know how big the recovery partition is, and you'll need a USB flash drive at least that big.
Creating a recovery drive will erase anything already stored on your USB flash drive. Use an empty USB flash drive or make sure to transfer any important data from your USB flash drive to another storage device before using it to create a USB recovery drive.
1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search.)
2. Enter recovery drive in the search box, and then tap or click Create a recovery drive. You might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.
3. After the recovery drive tool opens, make sure the Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive check box is selected, and then tap or click Next.
1. If your PC doesn’t have a recovery partition, then the checkbox will be greyed out and the recovery drive will include only the recovery tools and a bootable image, but not a recovery image to use for refreshing or resetting your PC.
2. Insert a USB flash drive into your PC that is at least as large as the size indicated on the screen.
3. Tap or click the USB drive you would like to use for your recovery drive, then tap or click Next.
4. Tap or click Create.
The recovery image and necessary recovery tools will be copied to your USB flash drive, which will take a while, depending on your PC and the size of the recovery image.
When the process is done, do one of the following:
1. If you want to keep the recovery partition on your PC, tap or click Finish.
2. If you want to remove the recovery partition from your PC and free up disk space, tap or click Delete the recovery partition. Then tap or click Delete. This will free up the disk space used to store your recovery image. When the removal is done, tap or click Finish.
3. Remove the USB flash drive.
This is now your USB Windows 8.1 recovery drive, and you'll need it if you ever need to refresh or reset your PC. Keep it in a safe place and don't use it to store other files or data.
If you're having problems with your PC, you can try to refresh, or reset it. Refreshing your PC will reinstall Windows and keeps your personal files and settings. It also keeps the apps that came with your PC and the apps you installed from the Windows Store. Resetting your PC will reinstall Windows but deletes your files, settings, and apps—except for the apps that came with your PC.
Using USB recovery drive to refresh or reset PC
It is strongly recommended that you backup all your data before whatever you refresh or reset your PC.
1. If your PC can’t boot into Windows 8.1, keep the USB recovery drive inserted then reboot your PC, press F12 consistently. A boot menu will appear. Select boot device and a KB layout Windows will show. Select Troubleshoot -> “Refresh your PC” or “Reset your PC” and then follow on-screen instructions.
2. For those windows tablet without KB, such as Miix 2 8. Keep the USB recovery drive inserted then press Volume up + power, select boot menu, select UEFI device, and waiting for your PC boot from the recovery drive.
You can also proceed “Refresh your PC” or “Reset your PC” within Windows 8.1
1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)
2. Tap or click Update and recovery, and then tap or click Recovery.
3. If you want to refresh your PC, under Refresh your PC without affecting your files, tap or click Get started.
4. If you want to reset your PC, under Remove everything and reinstall Windows, tap or click Get started.