Windows 10 is more reliable than ever but things can still go wrong. If you depend on your computer for anything, it makes sense to keep your data safe and make sure you can get your computer up and running again quickly should it happen. That’s why you need to create a Windows 10 recovery disk.
Also see our article How To Speed Up Windows 10 – The Ultimate Guide
We say ‘disk’ but it can be any media. The favorites are USB or DVD. No medium is better than the other but not everyone has blank DVDs or DVD burners in their computer any more so use whatever you have to hand.
The value of a recovery disk
A Windows 10 recovery disk is like insurance for your home or car. It’s a pain and costs money to keep up and you never really see the benefit of it. Until you need it. Then insurance is the best thing since mustard on a hot dog.
The same for Windows 10 backups and recovery disks. They take time to set up, take up disk space or a USB drive and serve no real use. Until you need it. With a recovery disk you can be up and running again quickly and without losing too much data or productivity. So yes it takes a little while to get set up, but once it is done, it’s done and you will be protected.
Create a Windows 10 recovery disk
To create a Windows 10 recovery disk you will need either an 8-16GB USB drive or a DVD writer and blank DVD(s). You can do this one of two ways. You can create a recovery disk from within Windows or use the Media Creation Tool from Microsoft. I’ll show you both.
You also have the option to either create a vanilla Windows 10 installation or to back up your config files too. If you choose to back up your files, Windows will back up some of your customizations. It will back up drivers, apps, any customizations you have made to Windows, power plan settings and a range of other files. These files will be necessary should you need to run either Reset this PC or Recover from a drive commands in advanced startup. I would always recommend including these files if you have a disk large enough.
Create a Windows 10 recovery disk from within Windows
This is the simplest way to create a recovery disk and takes around 15-20 minutes depending on how fast your computer is and how much data you need to back up.
- Navigate to Control Panel and Recovery.
- Select Create a recovery drive and insert your USB or DVD.
- If you want to back up system files, make sure the box is ticked before clicking Next.
- Wait for Windows to detect the destination drive and list it then click Next. All data on a USB drive will be wiped as part of this operation. The DVD will need to be blank of course.
- Follow the wizard as prompted to create the recovery disk and then give it time to create it.
Create a Windows 10 recovery disk using the Media Creation Tool
The Media Creation Tool is a very useful program from Microsoft that allows you to create a fresh image of Windows 10 to use to rebuild your computer.
- Download and open the Media Creation Tool.
- Select the correct version of Windows 10, 32-bit if you have 32-bit Windows and 64-bit if you have 64-bit Windows. You must get this part right otherwise it won’t work.
- Select ‘Create installation media for another PC’.
- Select the Language, Windows 10 edition and the version. Again, you must get this right otherwise the disk won’t work.
- Select your disk medium, USB or DVD.
- Wait for Windows to download the necessary files and create the disk.
Using the Microsoft Media Creation Tool means you get a brand new and updated Windows 10 image but does require a download of around 3.5GB to create. Make sure you don’t use this tool if you have a restricted data plan. The upside is that the image is regularly updated by Microsoft so you shouldn’t have to then run Windows Update for too long afterwards.
How to use a Windows 10 recovery disk
If something goes wrong with your computer, you need to know how to use your new Windows 10 recovery disk. Fortunately, it is very simple.
- Reboot your computer with the recovery disk inserted.
- Select the option boot from the recovery disk in the advanced boot menu that appears. If this menu doesn’t appear, access your BIOS and select boot menu from there.
- Select Troubleshoot and Recover from a drive.
- Follow the prompts to allow Windows to rebuild using the recovery disk
That’s it! Your computer will use the data stored on the recovery disk to rebuild itself and return to working order. The process can take a while. Much depends on how much data you have in your recovery disk and the speed of your computer. Allow between 10-20 minutes for the process.
Other options for backing up Windows 10
As well as creating a Windows 10 recovery disk you can also use third party software to clone your boot drive. These are usually premium applications that will take a direct copy of your hard drive and recreate it bit by bit onto another drive. If you happen to have a spare drive lying around, this is certainly an option.
Hard drive cloning is a way to make sure your computer is always available and is a useful tool for making a more complete version of a recovery disk. The downside is that most of the software required to create a clone costs money and you also need a spare hard drive. There are some free software that can do the job but I have no idea if they are any good or not.
If you spend a lot of time on your computer, making a Windows 10 recovery disk is a no brainer. Yes you need a spare USB drive or blank DVD(s) and 20 minutes of your time. But in return, you get to recover a failed computer within half an hour rather than much longer. Well worth doing in my book.