By Ivy / Last update September 24, 2021

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/DVD disc.  But if you want to install Windows 10/11 from USB, you can choose to download installation media tool from Microsoft and create Windows 10/11 recovery USB yourself. 

USB Drive

Well then, how to use recovery drive in Windows 10/11 to get computer back? You could use recovery drive or installation disc to boot computer and then restore it using Windows 10/11 recovery tools. Also, if your computer has a serious error or you want to keep all your personal files and programs, you could try free backup software AOMEI Backupper Standard. Four methods are below, please check one of them and start your restoration.

Method 1: Recover Windows 10/11 from a recovery drive

Here you will create a recovery drive in Windows 10 with built-in tool - Recovery Drive, and then learn how to use recovery drive in Windows 10 to completely reinstall Winodws 10. Please prepare a USB drive with 16GB at least, otherwise this operation may fail because of insufficient disk space and throw you an error message, saying, "we can't create the recovery drive". And these steps also applies to Windows 11. Learn more below.

• Restoring from Recovery from a drive option is a process to clean install Windows 10, so it will remove all your files, even the entire disk. Please backup your important files in advance, whether it is 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.

Part 1: Create a Windows 10 recovery drive with built-in tool

Step 1. Connect the USB drive to your computer, and make sure it can be detected. Then, type Create a recovery drive in the search box and select it from the top result. 

Step 2. 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 Back up system files to the recovery drive gives you a chance to perform Windows 10 install when you cannot troubleshoot your computer with other recovery tools, such as, System Restore, Startup Repair, Command Prompt, etc.

Step 3. Select USB flash drive and hit Next.

Select USB Drive

Step 4. Click Create to start Windows 10 recovery usb creation.


Part 2: Restore Windows 10 from a recovery drive

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

Step 2. In the Choose an option window, select Troubleshoot and then Recover from a drive. 

Recover from a Drive

Step 3. Select Just remove my files or Clean the drive fully, depending on what you want to keep.

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

Step 5. After that, you just need to set up your Windows 10 with the on-screen instructions.

Except for the recovery drive, you still can use recovery partition in 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: Install Windows 10/11 from USB without losing data

Here you will use the built-in recovery drive to recover Windows 10 with "System Restore" in the Advanced options, and It will keep all your files at the point you make a system restore point. This is also true for Windows 11.

Step 1. Create Windows 10 recovery USB with steps mentioned in Method 1, and then boot from it. 

Step 2. Then, access the Troubleshoot page and select Advanced options > System Restore in order.

System Restore

Step 3. In the Restore system files and settings window, click Next.

Step 4. Select a restore point to restore Windows 10 to an eailer working date and click Next.

Select Restore Point

Step 5. Confirm the info and click Finish to recover Windows 10.

Method 3: Reinstall Windows 10 but keep files

Here you will use "System Restore" option as well, but the recovery drive is an installation disc or USB. This can be a great choice if you don't create Windows 10 recovery USB drive with the built-in recovery drive, it will keep your files as well. You can still try the following steps if you use the lastest Windows 11.

Note: If you don't have CD/DVD disc, please download Windows 10 Media creation tool and then use it to create Windows 10 system repair USB. Also, it is applicable to create Windows 10 recovery USB for another PC.

Part 1: Create installation USB for another PC with Media Creation Tool

Step 1. Download Windows 10 Media Creation tool from Microsoft and run it with administrator priority.

Step 2. Then, it will start to check the hard drive of your computer and get a few things ready. After that, you will be asked to read all the license terms and click Accept to agree with it.

Step 3. In the "What do you want to do?" page, select Create installation media for another PC  to create a bootable USB drive and click Next.

Create Installation Media

Step 4. Select language, edition and architecture (32-bit or 64-bit) for Windows 10.

Step 5. Select USB flash drive (at least 8GB required) and click Next. It will start to create Windows 10 reinstall USB, you just need to wait untill the process completes.

Part 2: Install Windows 10 from USB drive

Step 1. Connect the installation USB drive to your computer and boot from it.

Step 2. In the initial Windows Setup window, select language and other preferences. Then, click Next until you see Repair your computer option, select it. 

Repair Your Computer

Note: If your computer is brand-new, you can still clean install Windows 10 from USB by clicking Install Now option. Then, select Custom installation type and follow on-screen instructions to complete the installation process.

Step 3. Immediately afterwards, in the Choose an option window, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > System Restore.

Step 4. In the Restore system files and settings window, click Next and then select a restore point. After that, click Finish to start the recovery process.

Method 4: Restore Windows 10/11 image from USB drive 

The built-in Windows 10/11 recovery tools do help to some extent, but they may remove all your files or the previously installed programs. Is there any safe way to restore Windows 10/11 from USB drive without deleting files and programs? Fortunately, you could use free backup software AOMEI Backupper Standard to make up for this. With it, you can make a Windows 10 boot disk to start unbootable computer and create Windows 10 system image for disaster recovery.  And the same is True for Windows 11.

To create a backup image, you need to click the download button to install AOMEI Backupper Standard, then select Backup >System Backup > destination path to save system, and finally click Start Backup to move on. 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.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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System Backup

To create boot disk Windows 10, click Tools > Create Bootable Media, then select bootable disc type > bootable media (here is USB Boot Device) and click Next to start the process. 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. If you create Windows 11 bootable USB, it can be used on all the previous system.

Tip: If you don't have USB or CD/DVD, you can directly create a recovery environment entry of AOMEI Backupper. It allows you to boot your unbootable computer and then backup & restore or clone.

Now, you have already prepared a Windows 10 system repair USB and system image backup for your computer. Then, you can restore Windows 10 system image using the following steps. If your backup and bootable USB is created on Windows 11, you still can follow steps below.

Step 1. Connect bootable USB and hard drive containing system image backup to your computer. And then restart your computer, press F2 or other specific key you see on the initial screen, set boot priority for created Windows 10 repair disk, at last save changes and reboot. 

Step 2. After loading, you will see the interface of AOMEI Backupper Standard, click Restore > Select Image File to find and select your system image to be restored. 

Select Image File Winpe

Step 3. Tick Restore this system backup and click Next. Please remember to tick Restore system to other location if you want to restore Windows 10 system image to new hard drive.

Restore Windows 10 from USB

Step 4. Then, you will be asked to select a destination path to receiving the Windows 10 backup image, select the first partition on the target disk, otherwise the system could not boot from it. Then, click Next. 

Select Destination

Step 5. In the Operation Summary window, click Start Restore and it will start to reinstall Windows 10 from a system image. 

Restore Windows 10 from USB

Step 6. Replace the original disk with new one and boot from the target disk, then your computer works again and it's exactly the same as before.

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" feature. But it 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 10/11 recovery drive or installation disc, you can effortlessly restore Windows 10/11 from USB. And you can choose to use recovery tools in the recovery drive or installation disc to acheive the same goal, System Restore, for example.  But none of solution can keep everything on your system, you will lose your files or programs depending on the way you choose.

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 10/11 from boot and keep everything. More surprising, you can use it to backup and restore system to new computer with different hardware if you don't mind investing in it. And  you can enjoy many useful features in this software, such as, create disk image, backup files to external hard drive Windows 11, universal restore, PXE boot tool, replace laptop HDD with SSD, migrate Windows 10 to SSD,etc.

To perform batch operation, you could try AOMEI Backupper Technician or Technician Plus. It allows you to deploy image to multiple computers simultaneously over network. And you can create portable AOMEI Backupper to removable devices and use it on any computer without reinstalling again. It is very convenient, isn't it?  Download this freeware or the advanced version to have a try now!