Learn to use the Windows 10 Recovery Drive

Lincoln Spector

Sooner or later, nearly every Windows user powers up the machine — and Windows simply refuses to start.

Every current version of Windows lets you create and run a self-booting rescue disc, but Win10 takes that tool to a new level.

The Windows 10 Recovery Drive comes with multiple tools for repairing and reinstalling Windows. You can, for example, use a system restore point to restore an image backup, run an automated Startup Repair tool, refresh Windows (either keeping or removing your data), or completely reinstall the operating system.

If you’re lucky, you’ll never need your Win10 recovery drive. But when things go serious wrong with Windows 10, you’ll be extremely relieved to have it. Here’s how to create and use a recovery drive.

Preparing the Recovery Drive — on a flash drive

The changes to the self-booting, Windows-recovery system start with the name. Bowing to changes in PC technology, it’s no longer a rescue disc, it’s now a rescue drive. In fact, creating a bootable CD or DVD is no longer an option; you must use a spare USB flash drive with a capacity of at least 512MB. But for a recovery drive with a complete set of tools, you’ll need an 8GB or larger drive.

If your internal drive crashes, and you need to install Windows on a replacement drive, you’ll be glad you splurged on teh 8GB drive.

Note that everything currently on the flash drive will be lost when you turn it into a Win10 recovery drive.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2015-09-17:

Lincoln Spector

About Lincoln Spector

Lincoln Spector writes about computers, home theater, and film and maintains two blogs: Answer Line at PCWorld.com and Bayflicks.net. His articles have appeared in CNET, InfoWorld, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other publications.