How to Create A USB Recovery Drive for Windows 10 and Windows 11

Windows may have become more stable and reliable with each new version, but it is still not immune to possible malfunctions. So we recommend planing ahead by creating a backup USB drive containing all the recovery tools.


  • How to Create a Windows Recovery Drive
  • How to Use the Windows Recovery USB Drive

Does your PC crash on startup or simply won’t boot? This can happen to anyone. And despite the progress made by Microsoft, Windows crashes are still an eventuality that should be taken into account and for which it is better to be prepared in order to react in case of glitches. To do this, you must adopt several reflexes.

The first is of course to make regular backups. For this, you can rely on specialized tools such as Saft Backup, BackupChain, Cobian Backup, EaseUS Todo Backup, AceBackup or Autover. They will allow you to put your precious files in a safe place on an external disk or a USB key for example.

Then, it is also better to anticipate Windows’ setbacks by creating a backup boot and recovery disk. A preventive operation, therefore, to be carried out with a functional PC. Some antivirus suites such as Avast or Kaspersky, for example, provide for this possibility. But Windows is also equipped to carry out this task. It offers a little-known option called Recovery Drive. It allows you to set up a rescue USB stick with a boot system (the equivalent of the Windows Recovery partition, which is created by deIt allows you to set up a USB flash drive with a bootable system (the equivalent of the Windows Recovery partition, which is created by deleting it from the primary drive during system installation) plus the system files present on the computer, including the drivers and software originally installed. This is where the recovery drive differs from the Windows Media Creation Tool proposed by Microsoft, which contains a complete but generic boot system (read our practical information sheet). Moreover, it is not necessary to have an Internet connection to create this key since it is generated from the version of Windows installed on the PC. Please note that this recovery drive does not contain any personal files or applications and programs you may have installed on your computer. It is not a disk image but simply a backup system that will allow you to restart your PC, perform repair operations or reinstall Windows if necessary.

Microsoft advises to create a recovery drive after each major system update in order to keep the version always up to date. To do so, you must use a USB key of at least 16 GB. Be careful: all the data saved on it will be erased during the operation.

How to Create A Windows Recovery Drive on Windows 10/11?

  • Present in Windows 8, 10 and 11, the recovery drive replaces the repair disk of Windows 7. Its realization can require nearly one hour. For the demonstration, we will use Windows 11, but the method is identical with Windows 10.
  • Click on the magnifying glass in the taskbar. In the search field, type recovery. Click on the first result that appears.
  • Windows Recovery Drive is a feature offered in the old Control Panel. Click the first Create Recovery Drive link in the window that appears and then click Yes to access the feature.
  • In the window that appears, check the Backup system files to recovery drive box so that your system files are taken into account while the USB drive is being created. This option will also allow you to reinstall Windows in case of problems that cannot be solved with the repair tools. Click Next.
  • Insert your USB flash drive of at least 16 GB into an available port on the machine. Its name will be displayed in the Available drive(s) section. Click on Next.
  • The window that appears has a warning that all data on the drive will be erased. Click on Create.
  • The copy operation starts. It may take up to an hour.

How to Use USB Recovery Drive?

Your PC won’t boot or has major crashes and won’t even let you access the repair options? Since you’ve created a recovery drive, you can use it to try to repair Windows. Insert your USB drive containing the repair drive you created into an available USB port on your PC, then boot it from the drive. You will need to designate the key as a boot drive from the Bios. Read our practical sheet to know how to access it.

  • At startup, the key offers three options: Recover from a drive, Troubleshoot and Shut down your PC. If your PC is having trouble, select Troubleshoot.
  • This gives you access to various options for uninstalling updates, recovering a system image, restoring a system, etc.
  • If nothing happens, and if Windows cannot reset the PC, choose the Recover from a drive option. The tool will then try to reinstall Windows from the elements present on the key (your personal files and installed applications will be deleted). It will first prepare the ground. Click on Just delete my files to have a chance to recover some files using a recovery tool like Recuva for example). If you don’t want to recover your personal files (if you have a backup on another drive), choose the option Wipe the entire drive.
  • All that’s left is to click the Recover button to reinstall Windows.