Quick Answer: Backup System Files to the Recovery Drive or Not

The "back up system files to the recovery drive" option will include a factory image into your drive and help you reinstall Windows if it fails. But you can choose to uncheck it if you don't need.


by Ivy Updated on October 17, 2022

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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

The answer is both "Yes" and "NO". On the one hand, the "back up system files to the recovery drive" option allows you to recover from a drive in the Windows recovery environment in case of serious problems. On the other hand, all the non-preinstalled programs and personal data will be deleted during the process.

Thus, after recovery, there is only a fresh version of Windows left, with the preinstalled program or necessary drivers. If you want to restore the entire system including all the data on it, creating a system image backup regularly will be a better choice. 

What does unchecking backup system files to the recovery drive do? If you uncheck it, the created recovery drive will only contain troubleshoot or repair tools provided by Microsoft, with no means of reinstalling Windows. All in all, it's not a bad idea to create Windows 10 recovery drive backup system files. 

How to back up system files to the recovery drive and use it

Here you will create a Windows 10 recovery drive with the "back up system files to the recovery drive" option. Note it can only be used on the computer you created and requires a USB flash drive at least 8GB. Then, read the next part and create a recovery drive in Windows 10 step by step.

Back up system files to the recovery drive with "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.

Step 5. Click Create to create Windows 10 system repair disk. Please backup files first if there is something important. As the picture shows, 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.

Tip: If you do not have USB flash drive, you still can use CD or DVD to create a system repair disc in Windows 10

Use Recover from a drive option to reinstall Windows 10 

After creating Windows 10 recovery drive with system files, you may want to use it. Below are the detailed steps: 

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.

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


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 or you want to ensure data integrity in the event of disaster recovery, you can try to use a trust and reliable free backup software,  AOMEI Backupper Standard.

With this, you can make bootable media (applies to all versions of Windows 7/8/10/11/XP computer) and create a system image backup including personal data and installed programs on the system drive. Thus, you can easily get your computer back without downtime and data loss.

Download it to have a try! 

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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How to backup system files  to the recovery drive including OS and data

Here you will use free backup software AOMEI Backupper Standard to backup system files to the recovery drive. And it can ensure 100% data integrity by backing up operating system, system files, drivers, programs, data, etc.

Click System Backup under the Backup tab and then it will select the entire system partition and system files required to start Windows. After that, select a destination path and click Start Backup to backup system.

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 Backup: You can create a regular backup with Daily/Weekly/Monthly schedule backup. Also, you can use the USB plug in and Event trigger feature in the Professional version. 
Backup Scheme(advanced):  You can enable incremental or differential backup to backup only changed files. In this way, you can prevent data loss to a great extent. Besides, you can delete old backups to free up disk space for new backup.

And it still allows you to create bootable USB to boot computer when it fails. Click Create Bootable Media under the Tools tab, then select bootable disc type (Windows PE & Linux) and bootable media (USB Boot Device, CD/DVD, ISO files), click Next to start the creation.

Create Bootable Media

Besides, it's a good idea to create a recovery environment in Windows 10 if you don't have USB or CD/DVD. It's to add a boot menu on the current computer and you can easily access it without inserting a USB and booting from it.

After creating system image backup and bootable USB or recovery environment, you can restore system image to new hard drive or SSD at any time. Please follow the steps below to perform system recovery:

Restart your computer to BIOS and change the bootable media as the first boot option, then boot from it. or directly restart your computer and select Enter into AOMEI Backupper at the system startup. After loading, in the main page of AOMEI Backupper, choose Select Task under the Restore tab. You can still choose Select Image File to locate the system image if you know where it is.

Select Image File Winpe

Then, select system image in the Restore tab and click Next. Note that you can choose among full, incremental or differential backup if you create multiple schedule backup tasks..

Select System Image

Afterward, select what you want to restore from this system backup, either the entire system or a partition on it. Also, you choose to restore system to other location by ticking the lower left option. 

Restore to Other Location

You will be asked to select a destination location if you choose "Restore system to other location". If not, you will see the Operation Summary window, tick "SSD Alignment" if you restore system to new SSD and click Start Restore to use the previously backed up system.

Preview Restore to Other Location

SSD Alignement: It helps you accelerate the reading and writting speed while cloning HDD to SSD.
Universal Restore: It is able to backup and restore system to new computer with dissimilar hardware, which will install all the necessary drivers required to boot Windows.


The "Back up system files to the recovery drive" option is very useful when you need to reinstall Windows, for example, your computer runs into blue screen of death.  But you cannot use it to recover non-preinstalled programs and personal data. 

To achieve this goal, the best way is to create a system image with free backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard. If you are worried about it may fail to boot, you can then create a bootable USB just in case. With both of them in hand, you can recover your computer quickly in any situation. For IT Technicians, try AOMEI Backupper Technician or TechPlus.

Ivy · Editor
Ivy is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore,hard disk & partitions management and cloud files transfer and so on for AOMEI. She is an outgoing girl and enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading and so on. She usually hangs out with friends at her leisure time.