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Windows 10 Recovery Options and Tools (Free) : Create A Recovery Drive Step by Step

Updated by Jean on Jun 02, 2021

When you demand Windows 10 recovery, you're supposed to fix a system crash or boot drive corruption problem. The ability to recover Windows 10 depends on whether you've created a *system image beforehand, or whether you've created a recovery drive that we usually kept on a portable drive. Making either of the backup plans will help you restore a kaput Windows 10 operating system from it.

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What Is A System Image?

A system image, in short, is a snapshot or an exact copy of an entire hard drive. A system image is a complete backup of everything on your computer's hard drive...

what is a system image

Windows 10 Recovery Options: Which Is Right for Me?

There are a bunch of Windows 10 recovery tools and options for you to recover a computer from a disaster without reinstalling Windows. As it is said, both a system backup image (namely a system restore point) and a recovery drive are workable. Only that the different Windows 10 recovery options you choose will decide what degree you can restore a system to. 

System Image vs Recovery Drive

Here's a basic comparison between a system image and a recovery drive:

A system image is a complete copy of a hard disk partition where Windows is installed (normally C: drive). That image usually contains the boot files, operating system, programs and user data. So, when your computer ran into problems and cannot boot, you can choose to restore from the backup image, and your computer will revert back to how it was when the image was created, including the exact system state and the programs and files that were backed up. 

While a recovery drive is created in a different way. Put simply, a recovery drive is a copy of your Windows 10 environment on another source, such as a DVD or USB drive. It's like a barebones version of a system image because it copies only the "recovery partition" with nothing else, so when you choose to restore a system via a recovery drive, it brings the system back to the factory condition, and the programs, updates and data will be removed during the restore process.

Best plan: Back up data and create a Windows 10 USB recovery drive

It seems that a system image can replace the role of a recovery drive, is it the fact? Not completely. First of all, a system image allows you to recover system to a working point when you created the backup, however, the files and programs have to be altered to an earlier state, too. Moreover, the disk space taken by a system image is usually much bigger than a recovery drive. Last but not the least, when your system corrupted out of luck, and totally unbootable, you must enter the Windows Recovery Environment to restore system via a Windows recovery drive.

Therefore, regarding the advantages of each way can bring us, the best way to protect your PC is to keep a separate data backup file and a recovery drive to a USB flash drive. In this way, when a disaster occurs, you can easily restore your computer without reinstalling Windows or losing necessary files.

Stage 1. Back up Everything You Care with EaseUS Todo Backup

Windows 10 has a native file backup tool for you to backup desired files and folders - File History. It's free, however, not a smart way. We choose a third-party free backup software for you to manage a daily file backup in an automatic and intelligent way. EaseUS Todo Backup is worth downloading if you request a complete and reliable backup for everything including hard drive/partition, file, OS, mail, etc.

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Will You Choose Backup Windows 10 with EaseUS Todo Backup or File History?

There are many backup solutions available for Windows users to choose from. Here, what really matters is to find a way you're accustomed to, and make sure that the backup is always valid to be restored after a disaster...

The computer backup procedure is all about several clicks. Follow the guide to make your own backup. Let's back up files, for example.

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Step 1. Open EaseUS Todo Backup and select "File" on the main window.

Run EaseUS Todo Backup

Step 2. Select the files to backup and the backup destination.

By clicking "Browse" on the left pane, you could choose different destination to save the backed up files. You'd better create the backup file in external storage media or cloud drive to prevent damage or destruction of the backup file.

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EaseUS Todo Backup now supports users to back up files to the cloud. All you need to do is sign up with an EaseUS account, then you could enjoy a large cloud storage space. More advantages of backing up to the cloud include accessing backup files anytime and anywhere, saving file copies offsite, so you don't need to worry about virus attacks or computer failures, and easier and faster backup and recovery operations.
select the files to back up

Step 3. Create a backup plan to automatically back up selected files.

1. Click "Schedule: Off" to create a flexible and automatic backup plan. 

Create automatic backup plan

2. Set the automatic backup schedule by day, by week or by month and click "Save" to keep the changes.

Set schedule backup frequency

If you can also click "Backup options" at the left bottom to set more advanced parameters for the plan. 

backup options

And the Image-reserve strategy will help you to keep the backup image as per image retention rule.

image-reserve strategy

Step 4. Click "Proceed" to execute your operation.

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Stage 2. Create A Windows 10 Recovery Drive

To create a recovery drive, you should prepare an empty USB flash drive and connect it to your Windows 10 PC (Note that the recovery drive creation will erase data on the drive if there is any). You'll start with the Windows recovery media creator wizard to create a recovery drive on a USB flash drive, for example.

Step 1. Open Control Panel in Windows 10 and locate the "Recovery" option.

create a recovery drive step 1

Step 2. You'll arrive at the Advanced recovery tools area, choose "Create a recovery drive".

create a recovery drive step 2

Step 3. Tick the option "Back up system files to the recovery drive" if you wish to use the drive to reinstall Windows or restore a previous version of Windows. Click "Next".

create a recovery drive step 3

Step 4. Wait until the wizard prepares to copy files to your flash drive.

Step 5. Select your USB flash drive as the recovery drive and click Next.

Step 6. Confirm the warning message that "everything on the drive will be deleted. If you have any personal files on this drive, make sure you've backed up the files" and click "Create".

Step 7. When the final message "The recovery drive is ready" appears, click "Finish".

How to Perform Windows 10 Recovery Through A USB Recovery Drive

In any case, you've suffered from a permanent system shutdown or crash, you can revive your computer to an original system state via the recovery drive you've created.

Step 1. Connect the recovery drive and turn on your PC.

Step 2. Select "Troubleshoot" and choose one recovery option among the three.

recover windows from a recovery drive

  • Restore from a system restore point by selecting "Advanced Options" > "System Restore". This will remove recently installed apps, drivers, and updates that might be causing your PC problems, but it won't affect your personal files.
  • Select "Reset this PC" and then choose to keep or remove your files.
  • Select "Recover from a drive". This will reinstall Windows 10, and it'll also remove your personal files, apps, and drivers you installed, and changes you made to settings.

How to Create A Recovery USB Drive for Another PC

Have you thought about using a recovery drive on another PC? Similarly, transfer your operating system from an office computer to a home computer. If this manner came true, you can operate two computers in totally the same OS environment. How to make it happen? Here, EaseUS Todo Backup can let you create a portable USB drive for Windows 10/8/7. With such a portable USB drive, you can boot a different computer but work in a copied OS through it. You'll upgrade the free version to the home version to enjoy the advanced feature.

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USB requirements:

1. Check how much disk space is used for the system C drive. Let's assume 40GB. Then prepare a qualified USB drive, of which the disk capacity must be larger than 40GB.

2. Do you use an empty new USB drive or an old one? Make sure that all the important data has been safely transferred because the system clone will overwrite data on it completely.

3. Correctly connect the USB drive to your machine and make sure that Windows has detected it and assigned a drive letter to it.

Follow the overall process to create a portable Windows USB drive and boot from it:

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Todo Backup. Expand the menu and click "System Clone" in the lower position.

click system clone

Step 2. On the "System clone" window, the software will choose the system partition and boot partition by default. Just Choose the USB drive as the destination disk. 

Click on "Advanced options" and then "Create Portable Windows USB drive". Click "OK".

choose the usb drive to create a portable windows usb drive

Click "Proceed". The software will start immediately cloning the default partitions of your desktop/laptop to the USB drive. After the cloning process is over, you can safely plug the USB drive out.

start to create portable windows usb drive

Step 3. Boot from the USB drive.

  • Connect your portable USB to the computer
  • Restart the computer and press "Del" to enter BIOS
  • Set the PC to boot from the portable USB by changing the boot order in BIOS under the "Boot" tab
  • Save changes and you'll see your system booting up from the USB drive

To Sum Up

There are a bunch of Windows 10 recovery tools and options for you to recover a computer from a disaster. To assist you best to choose the most efficient backup plan, we introduced EaseUS Todo Backup, which lets you create data backups in a smart way. In addition, It provides users with a unique function to create a portable USB drive that carries your operating system to any other computer. 

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For a complete solution to Windows 10 recovery, we also focus on the details of creating a recovery drive by using the native Windows 10 recovery media creator, and how to perform Windows 10 recovery upon a system failure.

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Updated by Jean

Author Jean has been writing tech articles since she was graduated from university. She has been part of the EaseUS team for over 5 years. Her special focuses are data recovery, disk partitioning, data space optimization, data backup and Mac OS. By the way, she's an aviation fan!

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Product Reviews

TrustScore 4.7 | 47 reviews
  • Taking everything into consideration, we can say that EaseUS Todo Backup Home can offer you a little extra sense of security with a set of advanced tools. The interface provides quick adaptation, every process guiding you all the way through so you don't get stuck or further damage your system rather than keeping it safe.

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  • EaseUS Todo Backup Free lets you create backups of your important files or your entire computer through its streamlined interface. Just choose the backup type you'd like to get started, and let the program do the reset.

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  • EaseUS includes all the features I expect from backup software like versioning, incremental backups, and scheduling. For more advanced users, EaseUS allows you to install a pre-boot environment onto your hard drive so you can use it to restore files without burning a CD or putting it on an external USB drive.

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