How To Create a USB recovery drive for Windows 8.1


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. To save space on your PC, you can delete the recovery image from your PC and use a recovery drive instead. 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.

Step 1: Check if your PC has a recovery partition

  1. Before you create the recovery drive, you should check if your PC has a recovery partition. If it doesn’t, you must create one and then create the recovery drive as in Step 2.
  2. To check for a recovery partition: Go to Start and type : CMD then right-click Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.
  3. Enter recimg /showcurrent, and then press Enter.
    1. This is what you see in the CMD mode:
      Microsoft Windows [Version 6.3.9600]
      (c) 2013 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
      C:WINDOWSsystem32>recimg /showcurrent (mind the space before the ‘/’)
      There is no active custom recovery image.
      Error Code – 0x80070490
  4. If you see an error message stating “There is no active custom recovery image” you will need to create one before you can create a recovery drive.
  5. You should only create a recovery partition if you don’t currently have one on your PC. You are still in de CMD mode. To create a folder for the recovery partition, enter mkdir C:RefreshImage, and then press Enter.
  6. To create the image in the folder you just created, enter
    recimg -CreateImage C:RefreshImage, and then press Enter.
  7. This is what you will see in the CMD mode duringthe process:
    1. C:WINDOWSsystem32>mkdir C:RefreshImage 
    2. C:WINDOWSsystem32>recimg -CreateImage C:RefreshImage
      Source OS location: C:
      Recovery image path: C:RefreshImageCustomRefresh.wim
      Creating recovery image. Press [ESC] to cancel.
      Creating snapshot
      Writing image (this may take a while)
      Registering image
      100%Recovery image creation and registration completed successfully.
      To check this operation, type again recimg /showcurrent and see the results.

      ATTENTION: if you try to create an image on another drive like
      recimg -CreateImage F:RefreshImage, you will get a message: 
      The recovery image cannot be written. The disk is full. Error Code – 0x80070070
    3. C:WINDOWSsystem32>recimg /showcurrent
    4. ?GLOBALROOTdeviceharddisk0partition1RefreshImage
      RecImg: Operation completed successfully
  8. This process creates a folder and the basic (boot-efi) files for recovery including Windows 8.1 sources.disktoshiba
  9. If you bought a pc with pre-installed Windows, 2 recovery partitions are already present: one ~ 350MB for the boot files and the other (~10-15 GB) with the Windows 8.1 sources. You cannot cut/paste/move the source files to another disk since the folder does not show properties AND you don’t have administrative rights to do so. In  that case proceed with Step 2.

Step 2: To create a USB recovery drive

  1. Go to Start and type Recovery and select Create a recovery drive.
  2. After the recovery drive tool opens, make sure the Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drivecheck box is selected, and then click Next.
    Attention: all contents of the USB drive will be erased.
  3. Insert a USB flash drive into your PC that is at least as large as the size indicated on the screen. Probably ~ 15 GB
  4. Tap or click the USB drive you would like to use for your recovery drive, then tap or click Next.
  5. Tap or click Create. The system will create a partition on the USB drive twice as large as the generic recovery size is. (~32 GB)

herstelpartitieThe recovery image and necessary recovery tools will be copied to your USB drive, which will take a while, depending on your PC and the size of the recovery image.

  1. When the process is done, do one of the following:
  2. If you want to keep the recovery partition on your PC, tap or click Finish
  3. If you want to remove the recovery partition from your PC and free up disk space, tap or click the Delete the recovery partition link at the bottum of that view.Then click Delete. This will free up the disk space used to store your recovery image. When the removal is done, click Finish.
  4. Remove the USB flash drive.
  5. This is now your 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.