Creating a Recovery Drive Using a USB Memory Stick (Windows 8)

All Windows operating system versions, no matter how good it looks and how well it performs are still vulnerable to problems that may put all your important files into danger. The computing and Internet space contains all sorts of threats and viruses that may cause varied troubles but thankfully, Windows 8 has a tool which would help you create a recovery drive using different storage devices like portable/external hard disks, internal hard drive partitions or even USB memory sticks and thumb drives. This capability is not available on previous Windows versions. Back in Windows 7 for instance, creating a recovery drive was a manual step which would give errors along the way. This tutorial will show the steps in creating a recovery drive using a USB memory stick on Windows 8 but first, we’ll try to find out what a recovery drive is.

What Exactly is a Recovery Drive

People who are using Windows are familiar with how easy the system can be affected by different threats which can cause varied problems (especially without proper system protection) causing the operating system to stop working normally or worst, never work at all. When this happens, you would need  the help of an expert or at least someone who knows what to do during such events and of course, having a “Recovery Drive” would make everything become easier to solve. Recovery drives are capable of being stored on different  devices and in fact, most manufacturers includes this on the computers that they sell which are mostly in the form of a DVD Recovery disks. These recovery media contain backup configurations of factory condition or any other configurations designed to restore your system into a working state if in case it stops working due to certain reasons. Hardware drivers and other system components are also placed on a Recovery Media so it can effectively restore a computer back to a favorable condition. A recovery media can also be created by an end-user and doing this is what I will be showing below. If your Windows 8 machine didn’t come with a recovery disk with it then it would be wise that you create your own using a USB memory stick.

When to Use a Recovery Drive

As you use your computer for different tasks, there would also be varying problems that may occur which can affect how the operating system works especially if the system itself lacks protection against threats such as viruses, Trojans, worms, spyware and other problems that come along the way as a result of the lack of maintenance and updating. When these problems combine, your machine becomes slow and will eventually experience crashes and errors. When this happens, you need to do something to restore the system back to a functional state and make your machine work as if it is new and if you don’t want to lose any of your important files, the best solution you can employ is use a Recovery Drive.

Unlike a software reinstallation or what is commonly called a “Reformat” process, using a Recovery Disk does not erase your files which is a good thing if you want to preserve some important files however, if you suspect that a virus may have gotten to your system, a “Reformat” process is needed so you can be sure that the virus is completely removed. Backing up all important files is important if you would choose to reformat your computer and install the operating system again.

How to Access the Recovery Media Creator Wizard

Before even accessing the Recovery Media Creator wizard, you first need to secure a USB memory stick that has at least 4GB storage capacity. Once you have this device, you can start by accessing the Recovery Media Creator wizard. To do this, just follow the steps shown below:

  • First, you need to plug he USB memory stick into one of the USB ports of your computer and once your machine detects it without any other problem, you just need to proceed to the next step.
  • Next, access the Start Screen by pressing the Windows Key or clicking on the Start Charm and once you are on it, simply type “recovery” then filter the search results by “Settings”. On the search results displayed on the right side of the screen, simply click “Create a recovery drive”.


  • If you are using Windows 8.1, filtering the search results by “Settings” would not be necessary. Simply go to the Start Screen and type “recovery” then click on the “Create a recovery drive” link below the input box.


  • After clicking on the “Create a recovery drive” link on both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, a User Account Control (UAC) prompt will appear which will ask you to allow the “Recovery Media Creator” wizard to make changes on your machine.


  • Once you see this prompt on your computer screen, just click or tap on the “Yes” button to start the “Recovery Media Creator Wizard”.

How to Use the Recovery Media Creator Wizard

After learning how to access the Recovery Media Creator, it is now time to learn how to use it. First thing that you would see after clicking the “Yes” button on the prompt I have shown above is a Window containing some information about the Recovery Media Creator and what it basically does.

Most computers having Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 pre-installed may also have a built-in recovery partition installed by the manufacturer. If this is the case, you would see a check box at the bottom of the Window which will allow you to copy the recovery partition to the USB memory stick which you plugged in. If this check box and the description beside it is grayed-out as shown below, it means that there is no recovery partition existing on your hard disk so all you need to do is click on the “Next” button at the bottom of the Window.


At this stage, you should take note of the name or the drive letter of the USB memory stick you inserted. On this example, the name of the memory stick I used is “PENDRIVE” and its drive letter is “E:\”. This will show up on the next Window and from here, you need to click on it from the list of available drives then click the “Next” button again found at the bottom.


The next Window will warn you that the process will erase all the files that are saved in the USB memory stick so it is always best to back them up first or copy them on a separate device before clicking the “Create” button. You can also save the contents of your USB memory stick to your computer’s hard drive but be sure to remember the location where you saved it in and put it on a properly labeled folder so you can easily locate the files in case you would need them in the future.


After clicking the “Create” button, the Recovery Drive creation process will start and you’ll see a progress bar showing the overall progress of the process. The length of time the it takes for the process to complete depends on the type of drive you are using. In the case of USB memory sticks, USB 2.0 would tend to be slower than USB 3.0 storage devices but generally for most devices, it takes around a minute or two for the process to complete.


Once the process completes, you’ll see a Window informing you that “The recovery drive is ready”. From this Window, all you need to do is click on the “Finish” button found at the bottom.


The wizard will then close and you can now remove the USB memory stick from your computer and use it every time your computer suffers some serious problem. You can also use the recovery files on your USB memory stick in fixing other computers for as long as it is running the same operating system version that your machine has.