By Ivy / Last update June 7, 2021

Should I back up system files to the recovery drive?

Recovery drive with back up system files to the recovery drive option

I'm trying to create a recovery for my Windows 10, and during the process I get an error saying that: "We can't create the recovery drive: A problem occurred while creating the recovery drive."

With some searching, I found that a common way to fix the error is to un-tick the "Backup system files to the recovery drive" message before proceeding to create a recovery drive.

Thus, i'm wondering if I should back up system files to the recovery drive." 

- Question from reddit

Yes, you should back up system files to the recovery drive. By checking it during the recovery drive creation process, it allows you to recover from a drive in the Windows recovery environment when your computer is in the event of serious problems. 

You can use USB flash drive to create a recovery drive. But if you do not have USB drive, you still can use CD or DVD to create a system repair disc in Windows 10

Note that the recovery media does not work across different versions of Windows computer. hat’s to say, you neither use Windows 10 64-bit recovery drive to boot Windows 10 32-bit computer, nor use a Windows 8 32-bit recovery drive to boot Windows 10 32-bit computer.

Create a recovery disk in Windows 10 with Back up system files to the recovery drive

Step 1. Connect the USB drive (at least 8GB) to your computer.  Be sure it can be recognized.

Step 2. Type recovery drive in the search box and select Create a recovery drive. Also, you can directly type this command %windir%\system32\RecoveryDrive.exe to open it.

Step 3. Check the backup system files to the recovery drive option and hit Next. This option gives you a chance to reinstall your computer when you cannot troubleshoot your computer.

Backup System Files to the Recovery Drive

Step 4. Select USB flash drive and hit Next.

Select USB Drive

Step 5. Click Create to create Windows 10 system repair disk. Please backup files first if there is something important. As the picture shown, everything on the drive will be deleted. 


When the operation ends, you might see the option Delete the recovery partition. Click it and then select Delete if you want to free up drive space on your PC.

Reinstall Windows 10 using Recover from a drive option

Let's fast forward to your computer is unbootable and need to reinstall Windows 10 from scratch. Below is an example to recover from a drive, you can follow the steps below.

Step 1. Connect your system repair disk via USB port. Restart your computer, press a specific key to enter BIOS and set the USB drive as first boot option. 

Step 2. In the keyboard layout page, select the language your computer currently use.

Select Language

Step 3. In the Choose an option page, select Troubleshoot and then Recover from a drive.

Recover from A Drive

Step 4. In the Recover from a drive page, you will be asked if you want to fully clean your drive. If not, click Just remove my files

Just Remove My Files

Step 5. Here you will be told which items will be removed, confirm them and click Recover


Except for Recover from a drive, you still try Windows 10 recovery tools in the Advanced options, such as, Startup Repair, System Restore, System Image Recovery, Command Prompt, etc. 

Windows 10 can't create a recovery drive

As shown in the user case, many users has difficult in creating Windows 10 system repair disk with the backup system files to recovery drive option checked. And a common way is to uncheck this option. 

As a matter of fact, there are something you can try before unchecking this option. 

  • Be sure the USB drive is at least 8GB. If it's Windows 10 64 bit, the size is larger and requires 16GB. 
  • Copy the install.wim file from the Windows 10 installation file to a folder on your hard drive. eg:H:\Windows-OS-image. Type Reagentc/setosimage/path H:\Windows-OS-image /index 1 in the command prompt window.

Then, you can try above steps to create Windows 10 recovery drive with back up system files to the recovery drive option.

If you still fail to include system files, you can try to use a trust and reliable free backup software,  AOMEI Backupper Standard, which comes along with the ability to create bootable media (applies to  all versions of Windows 7/8/10/XP computer) and create a system image backup including personal data and installed programs on the system drive. 

Download it to have a try! If you want to use the backup image on a different computer, you need to use Universal restore(supported by AOMEI Backupper Professional) features to ensure all the necessary drivers are installed.

Download Freeware Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Alternative way to backup system files to the recovery drive

Part 1: Create bootable media with a USB drive

Step 1. Connect USB flash drive you want to create bootable media to your computer. Then, launch AOMEI Backupper Standard, go to the Tools tab and select Create Bootable Media.

Create Bootable Media

Step 2. Select the Windows PE Bootable Disc Type, which allows you to use all functions of AOMEI Backupper. Then, click Next. 

Select Bootable Disc Type

Step 3. Select USB Boot Device as bootable media. Then, click Next, it will start to create disc.

Select Usb Device

It's suggested to have a test after creating Windows 10 system repair boot disk. Restart your computer to BIOS and change the bootable media as the first boot option, then boot from it. If everything is ok, after a few seconds, you will see the main page of AOMEI Backupper. 

Part 2: Backup system to external hard drive

Step 1. Connect your external hard drive and be sure it's recognized. Open AOMEI Backupper Standard, Click Backup and System Backup. Then, it will select all the  boot-related partitions by default. 

System Backup

Tip: If your new hard drive or SSD is big enough to hold everything on the old disk, you could create a disk image in Windows 10 with Disk Backup. It not only backs up all the system files, but also includes programs and personal data on the non-system partitions.

Step 2. Click where the arrow point and then select the connected external disk

Select Destination

At the lower location, there are three options that can bring you much convenience. You can enable one or more of them. 

 Options: You can compress system image to a smaller one with normal or high compression level, Enable email notification to notify you the final result timely, password protect your backup image with Enable encryption for backup, etc.

 Schedule: You can create a regular backup with daily/weekly/monthly schedule backup, and enable incremental or differential backup to backup only changed files. In this way, you can prevent data loss to a great extent. Note the scheduled differential backup is available on AOMEI Backupper Professional at least.

 Scheme(available on AOMEI Backupper Professional):  You can enable backup scheme to delete old backups if you create a schedule automatic backup, which will generate more and more backups until the backup disk is full.  

Step 3. Confirm the information and then click Start Backup to backup system files.

Start Backup

Restore system files from recovery drive using AOMEI Backupper Standard

Before restoring system files, you need to prepare a storage device, such as, hard drive or SSD, to receive the backup image. Then, be sure it's recognized. In addition, you still need to connect the bootable media and hard drive with system image backup of your computer. 

After that, launch AOMEI Backupper Standard, restore system image to new hard drive with the following steps. 

Step 1. Go to the Restore tab and click Select Task or Select Image File to find your system image backup.

Select Image File Winpe

Step 2. If you select the first option, you will be asked to select system image in the next window. Also, there is a funnel shapped button, which is used to select previous backup, and the backup can be full, incremental or differential.  

Select System Image

Step 3. If select the second option, this software will select your system image automatically. Then, you will be asked to select the items you want to restore, tick restore this system backup and click Next.

If you want to restore system image to new hard drive or SSD, tick Restore system to other location.
If you enable schedule automatic backup, you will have multiple backups and you can select any previous backup with a specific time, whether it's  full backup or incremental/differential backup task.

Restore to Other Location

Step 4. If you tick Restore system to other location, you will be asked to select backup destination. Select the prepared hard drive or SSD and click Next. 

Please select the first partition on the target disk as destination, otherwise the system could not boot from the target disk.

Select Destination

Step 5. After that, you will reach the Operation Summary window, confirm all the infomation and click Start Restore. If the target disk is an SSD, tick SSD Alignment to accelerate the reading and writing speed as well as prolong its life span. 

Preview Restore to Other Location

Is it really easy to backup system files and restore it to get your computer back in a very short time? The answer is YES. Also, you can still use it to backup and restore system image to computer with dissimilar hardware as long as you enable "Universal Restore (supported  by AOMEI Backupper Professional)". It is able to install all drivers required to boot Windows.


Back up system files to the recovery drive is a very useful feature when you cannot troubleshot your computer using Windows 10 recovery tools, such as, System Restore, System Image Recovery, Command Prompt, etc. It allows you to reinstall Windows 10 while keeping my files or full cleanning the drive.

But, sometimes, you may find you cannot create a recovery drive with the backup system files to the recovery drive option checked. And there is no error message prompt. The only clue is to be sure the USB flash drive is at least 8GB. In addition, you can try to copy installation files to the recovery drive.

If it's still not working, you can directly create bootable media and backup system files with a reliable backup software - AOMEI Backupper. Then, in the event of a disaster, you can boot from this media and then restore computer with complete system backup. If you schedule backup system, you can even restore computer to the point right before computer failure.