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How To Create A Windows USB Recovery Drive.

A Windows 10 or Windows 11 USB recovery drive can help you to get your computer back up and running when things go disastrously wrong. Recovery drives are bootable, meaning that you can use them even if your computer won’t start Windows.

You’ll need a USB stick (drive) with at least 16 GB capacity. More would be fine, but not less.

The other thing to note is that the drive should be empty. Any files that are already stored on the USB stick will be erased. So double check that you haven’t got anything important on it before you start.

How To Create A Windows 10/11 Recovery Drive.

Plug in your USB drive and check that there isn’t anything on it that you need. When you’re happy that the drive is empty, click the Start button and type recovery drive.

Left-click Recovery Drive (App). The User Account Control pop-up will appear, click the Yes button.

Recovery Drive indicated in Windows 10
Searching for Recovery Drive in Windows 10.
Recovery Drive marked on Windows 11 search results.
Searching for Recovery Drive in Windows 11.

Quick Tip.

Unplug any other USB drives that are attached to your PC before you start, including any external hard drives. It just avoids any confusion later on.

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The “Create a recovery drive” window will open.

Make sure the option to “Back up system files to the recovery drive” is selected.

It should be selected by default but it’s worth making checking.

Backup system files to the recovery drive is highlighted as being selected.
Select “Backup system files…” then click the Next button.

After clicking the Next button, Windows will search your computer for suitable USB drives to use.

If you took my advice and unplugged all but the one you’re going to use for the recovery drive, then only one drive will be selected.

If you’ve got other drives plugged in, Windows will present you with a list. Select the “right” one and click the Next button.

USB flash drive selected for use as recovery drive.
Choose your USB flash drive and then click Next.

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Creating The Recovery Drive.

Finally, you’ll get a warning that “Everything on the drive will be deleted.” It means what it says. If you’re sure that the drive is empty and want to proceed, click the Create button.

If you want to double check that the drive is empty, click the Cancel button. Check your drive using File Explorer and when you’re ready, restart this process.

After clicking the Create button, Windows will do just that. It can take quite some time to finish, it really depends on your computer.

Create a recovery drive warning that everything on the USB flash drive will be erased. The Create button is marked.
Click the Create button.
Recovery drive creation progress bar.
The recovery drive is being created.

When the recovery drive is ready, Windows will notify you. Click the Finish button.

Store your drive somewhere safe. Don’t use it for anything else. Don’t store any other files on it.

Finish button is indicated.
Click the Finish button.

Windows Updates.

It’s a good idea to re-create your recovery drive at least once a year to keep pace with the major updates that both Windows 10 and Windows 11 receive.

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What Isn’t Included In The Recovery Drive.

When you create a Windows recovery drive, it’s important to note that none of your files, folder, programs or apps and included on the drive. For that, you’d need a make a system image How To Create A Windows System Image Backup.

A recovery drive isn’t a computer backup solution. Its sole use is to get your computer working again. As such it only includes Windows system files and tools.

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At Home Computer Guides.

These easy to follow guides aren’t part of the course, rather, they are standalone guides. They extend beyond the basics that we’re covering on the course.

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