By Ivy / Last Updated September 25, 2020

What is a recovery USB?

Recovery USB, a USB version of system repair disc in Windows, contains several tools that can be used to troubleshoot the unbootable computer or restore your computer to factory settings.

In Windows, the recovery USB created by buillt-in tool cannot be used on different version of computer. That’s to say, you cannot use a Windows 8 32-bit recovery drive to repair Windows 10 32-bit. Also, you cannot use a Windows 8 32-bit recovery drive to troubleshoot Windows 8 64-bit.

In addition, you still can use an installation disk as a repair disk. But the one comes along with your computer is a CD disc. Thus, if you want to reinstall windows 10 without CD, you need to download installation media tool from Microsoft and create Windows 10 recovery USB yourself. Below will introduce in details.

Two common Ways to create a recovery disk for Windows 10

Method 1: Create a recovery drive Windows 10

This method is to use Windows 10 recovery tool, Recovery Drive, to help you create recovery disk Windows 10. Below are the details.

Step 1. Connect the USB drive to your computer, and make sure it can be detected.

Step 2. Type Create a recovery drive in the search box and select it from the top result.

Step 3. Check the back up system files to the recovery drive option and hit Next. If not, you will not see Reset this PC and Recover from a drive in the system recovery environment.

Back up System Files to the Recovery Drive

NOTE: The size of Windows 10 USB recovery drive is required to be 16GB. If your drive does not have enough space, you may receive an error message saying we can't create the recovery drive.

Step 4. Select USB flash drive and hit Next.

Select USB Drive

Step 5. Click Create to start Windows 10 recovery usb creation.


Method 2: Create Windows 10 system repair USB with installation disc

This method is to make full use of Windows 10 Media creation tool, it can be a recovery USB, DVD or ISO file. Please see the specific steps below.

Step 1. Download Windows 10 Media Creation tool from Microsoft and run it with administrator. Click Accept to agree the license terms,

Step 2. In the What do you want to do? page, select “Create installation media for another PC” and click Next.

Create Installation Media

Step 3. Select language, edition and architecture (32-bit or 64-bit) for Windows 10.

Step 4. Select USB flash drive (at least 8GB required) as the bootable media and click Next to create Windows 10 reinstall USB.

Three common ways to restore Windows 10 from USB

In the following, I'll show you three different methods to reinstall Windows 10 with USB drive. The previous two methods is to use Windows 10 recovery drive while the last one is to use installation disk created by Windows 10 installation media.

Method 1: Recover Windows 10 from a recovery drive

Here, I'll show you how to use recovery drive Windows 10 to completely reinstall Winodws 10. Without further ado, let's get started.

Tip: The Recovery from a drive option will remove all your files, even the entire disk. Thus, it's suggested to backup your important files in advance whether pictures, documents, audios, or videos, otherwise your data will go forever. If you want to reinstall Windows without losing data, please try the following methods.

Step 1. Boot from Windows 10 repair disk. In the initial page, select keyboard layout and other prepference.

Step 2. Select Troubleshoot and Recover from a drive. Then, just wait until the next window appears.

Recover from a Drive

Step 3. Select Just remove my files or Clean the drive fully.

Step 4. Click Recover to recover from a drive. It will take a while to finish and your PC will restart.

Step 5. Set up your Windows 10 with the on-screen instructions.

Note: Also, you can use recovery partition Windows 10 to reinstall system. It comes along with your computer, usually, a hidden partition, and allows you to access the system partition by a specifc key and restore system, F9 for ASUS system recovery partition, for example.

Method 2: Reinstall Windows 10 without losing data

If you want to keep all your files and already make a system restore point in Windows 10, this way is very useful for you. Just keep reading below to get details.

Step 1. Boot from the Windows 10 recovery USB and access to the Troubleshoot page. Then, select Advanced > System Restore.

System Restore

Step 2. In the Restore system files and settings, click Next.

Step 3. Select a restore point and click Next.

Step 4. Confirm the info and click Finish to recover Windows 10.

Method 3: Reinstall Windows 10 but keep files

It's a great choice to reinstall Windows 10 from USB with installation disk if you don't create Windows 10 recovery USB drive with the built-in recovery drive. It will keep your files as well.

Step 1. Connect the installation disk to your computer and boot from it. Then, select language and other preference.

Step 2. Click Repair your computer at the lower left corner. Immediately afterwards, Select Troubleshoot and Advanced options.

Repair Your Computer

Note: If your computer is brand-new, you can still clean install Windows 10 from USB via installation disk. To make it, click Install Now, pitch on Next until you see the installation type: Custom and select this option, then delete hard drive on your new computer and select the unallocated space to install Windows 10. Finally, click Next.

Step 3. Select System Restore and follow on-screen instructions to start Windows 10 reinstall.

Sure-fire way to restore Windows 10 from USB drive

The first solution will remove all your files, even the entire disk. In fact, it’s a process to clean install Windows 10 from USB. The last two solutions keeps your files but the previous installed programs will be removed completely.

If you want an easier way that can keep both files and programs, I recommend you the free backup software AOMEI Backupper Standard. With it, you can create Windows 10 system image for disaster recovery. Also, you can make a Windows 10 boot disk to start unbootable computer. With these, you can recover any computer, including the non-bootable ones.

To create a backup image, you need to download this software and select System Backup, and destination path to save system, then click Start Backup. If your computer currently is running smoothly without any obstacle, it's suggested to schedule backup system, so the newly changed files and installed apps will be included in this image.

System Backup

To create boot disk Windows 10, click Tools > Create Bootable Media, then select bootable disc type, PE boot mode, bootable media (here is USB Boot Device) and click Next to create system repair USB for Windows 10. When the proces is complete, click Finish to exit.

Create Bootable Media

◑ The Windows 10 repair disk created by AOMEI Backupper Standard can be used on all branded computers, such as, HP Windows 10 recovery USB, Samsung Windows 10 repair disk etc.
◑ Also, it can be used on different operating system, such as, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows XP etc.

To restore Windows 10 system image to new hard drive, please follow the steps below.

Step 1. Connect bootable media and USB drive with system image backup to your computer. And then restart your computer, press F2 or other specific key you see on the initial screen, change boot order to the Windows 10 repair disk, press F10 to save changes and boot your computer.

Step 2. Wait for the loading to complete, and then you will see the interface of AOMEI Backupper Standard. At this time, click Restore and Select Image File to find your system image.

Select Image File Winpe

Step 3. Select the system backup and Click Next to move on.

Select Backup Image

Step 4. Tick Restore this system backup and click Next.

Restore Windows 10 from USB

Step 5. Select the destination path to restore Windows 10 and click Next.

Select Destination

Step 6. Then, click Start Restore to reinstall Windows 10 from a system image. When the progress reaches 100%, click Finish to exit.

Restore Windows 10 from USB

Note: If you are currently transferring OS from one computer to another with different hardware, such as, CPU or motherboard, it's suggested to use Universal Restore. But this feature is available at least on the Professional version. You should upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Professional to enjoy this feature.

The way forward

With the help of Windows 10 recovery drive or installation disc, you can effortlessly restore Windows 10 from USB becomes. But the Recover from a drive option either wipe data or everything and then reinstall Windows 10. Also, you can reinstall Windows 10 free with System Restore option. Both recovery drive and reinstall USB have this option.

However, none of solution can keep everything on your system. If you don't want to waste time to reinstalling apps and recover files, you'd better use freeware AOMEI Backupper Standard to reinstall Windows 10 from boot and keep everything.

In addition, this software has far more useful features to secure your system and data, including disk backup, file backup, schedule backup, event trigger backup, USB plug in, daily incremental backup, universal restore, PXE boot tool, replace laptop HDD with SSD, etc. Any interest? Please download this freeware or advanced version, such as, AOMEI Backupper Professional.