What can you do with a Windows 10 recovery drive?

To use a recovery drive, you must instruct the PC to boot from the UFD instead of from its usual hard disk or SSD. This generally means interacting with the PC’s BIOS or UEFI environment. Consult the user manual for the target device for the necessary details, which can vary widely. On many of my laptops, for example, striking the F12 key during initial start-up brings up a boot drive selection menu. Newer PCs with fast boot capabilities may require other, different contortions.

  • Once booted into the Windows recovery drive, a series of menus will appear. First, you’ll elect to “Troubleshoot,” then ponder (and use) the subsidiary options.
  • If you see this option, select “Troubleshoot.”

Under “Troubleshoot,” you can elect to “Recover from a drive” or select “Advanced options.” The first simply re-installs Windows from the image on the recovery drive. It’s just like performing a reset on Windows 10, except it’s using the files from the recovery UFD instead of files from a different drive. This option makes sense only when other, less destructive recovery strategies have failed. That’s because it creates a fresh Windows 10 install, makes sure you have your windows 10 activation keys with no additional applications, user accounts, settings or preferences available.

  • Choose “Advanced options” instead, and this is what you’ll see.
  • Each of the options here offers interesting repair and recovery possibilities.

System Restore: Lets you roll back Windows 10 to a previous snapshot as captured in a Restore Point. This won’t usually fix boot-up problems, but it’s worth a try anyway.

System Image Recovery: Rolls back Windows 10 to the state captured in a System Image recorded for the PC. Replaces the entire boot/system drive contents, including boot information. A good fix when rollback doesn’t impose unwanted or unacceptable losses of files, settings, and so forth.

Automatic Repair: The usual selection for boot-related issues. Here, you select the operating system that you wish to have repaired (the tool reports on Windows and other images it finds after scanning the boot/system disk), provide login credentials, and fire off the repair tool. If it succeeds, the system will be restored to normal operation. If not, other measures become necessary.

Command Prompt: This is the ultimate toolbox for manipulating a Windows boot/system disk. Anything you can run at the command line in Windows, you can direct against the impaired disk. This includes credit for addressing boot problems, DISM for addressing Windows image problems, and much, much more.

Startup Settings: Lets you manipulate Windows startup behavior as you might otherwise do using the boot tab in msconfig.exe. There are 9 options available, including debugging, boot logging, low-res video, various forms of Safe Mode, and more. See this How-to-Geek story for a screen capture of those options

Updated: June 12, 2019 — 5:28 pm

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