Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


creating recovery media - big problem

  1. #1


    Posts : 5
    Windows 8.1

    creating recovery media - big problem


    Problem: I want to create bootable recovery media in case the computer fails. I have tried to create a recovery image using the in-built windows recovery tool but the RefreshImage/ Customrefresh.wim file will not copy onto a usb stick.

    Background: I have upgraded 4 home computers from Windows 7 to 8 to 8.1. The upgrades were done through the Microsoft website and Store as downloads. I had problems on two computers with Windows 8 and the recovery usbs I made did not work with them (missing files) - I had to reinstall the whole system again through renewed download. I want to avoid this problem again. This is the situation on my own main computer at present. I opened the create recovery tool in windows. It could not detect a recovery partition/ image so I went ahead and created the RefreshImage/ CustomRefresh.wim file using the instructions from the Microsoft tutorial. This is now sitting happily on my C drive, but the create recovery tool does not recognise it ('copy' box is greyed out). I see that I have 3 disk partitions on my hard drive: Volume 1 is called the Restore Partition. It has no letter designation and says it is 100MB in size but 100% free Volume 2 is the normal C drive for booting. Volume 3 is a hidden PQService partition of about 19GB with 60% free - I am not sure if this is new or belongs to the original OEM.

    Help: can anyone out there help me to create a bootable USB stick for windows 8.1? I am not sure why the windows tool does not recognise the refreshimage folder for copying onto the stick and, based on my previous experience with windows 8, the basic recovery usb that I can make does not contain the files that are needed when something goes badly wrong.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Harrisonburg, Va.
    Posts : 10,488
    Windows 8.1.1 Pro with Media Center


    Try:

    Macrium Reflect FREE Edition - Information and download

    It works good.

    I use the paid version.

    EDIT>

    I backed up 8.1 pro with media center on a 32GB usb.
    The compression level made the image & xml file only 27 GBs.
    The xml is what makes the usb bootable.
    Once your image is on usb drive just insert it & reboot & it recovers everything.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Posts : 5,360
    7/8/ubuntu/Linux Deepin


    It won't recognise customrefresh.wim. It has to be called Install.wim or .swm, or .esd.

    Best thing for you to do is sysprep and capture. Or use a 3rd party imaging program.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 5
    Windows 8.1


    Thanks for the feedback. I downloaded Macrium. There are two choices. Two creage an image for recovery purposes, which shows up at over 80GB! Or to create bootable rescue media, which is under 1GB, and seems to replicate what I can already do with the widnows tool.
    Windows will make me the RefreshImage/ CustomRefresh.wim file and place it in C drive. On this computer that is only 9GB or so. I have all my files backed up in the cloud - my main concern is to be able to repair the system files when they get corrupt or go missing as in the past. Is there a third way between the full image copy and the small rescue media? If I just copy the RefreshImage folder made by Windows onto a USB will that work as a bootable repair for example?
    Thanks for any replies.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Posts : 1,875
    Windows 10 Pro Prieview x64


    Quote Originally Posted by tempde View Post
    If I just copy the RefreshImage folder made by Windows onto a USB will that work as a bootable repair for example?
    No it will not. CustomRefresh.wim is used if you take the refresh option within windows - it will reset all your programs and apps to whatever you had installed when you made it and keep your documents. It is useful if your system is corrupted as you don't have to re-install all your programs assuming you make it when your system is in a good state.

    For recovery you need a system image - either created by Windows or a third party tool. You can use this system image if you have some other way of booting - macrium uses either a linux or Win PE bootable USB or CD, windows uses a "recovery drive" which you can put on USB and is about 250MB. Any of these let you restore the (80GB) system image which contains everything on your C drive - programs, documents everything.

    You can always do both (and indeed there are other options) but CustomRefresh is insufficient if your hard drive dies.

    Hope this helps some.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 5
    Windows 8.1


    Thanks for the clarification adamf. Under windows 8, I created a 'recovery drive' USB of 250MB. When I had problems on two laptops with the OS the USBs did not help - I kept getting the message that system files are missing. I could fix that by going to a Microsoft download site for Windows 8 and redownloading the installation, but it took a lot of time etc. Windows 8.1 does not seem to have this option. My concern is that the problem will crop up again - missing system files (I am not sure how you check the integrity of the system files). So I thought I need to make something more than the recovery drive but something over 80 GB seems alot - I suppose what I need is a windows 8.1 installation disk with the various tools it contains for repair but that does not seem to be available at present.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Posts : 1,875
    Windows 10 Pro Prieview x64


    You can check and fix corruption using sfc/scannow from elevated command prompt and this tool DISM - Fixing Component Store Corruption in Windows 8 will fix thing that sfc/scannow fails to. I run SFC /SCANNOW every week or 2 just to check.

    As you upgraded from 8 you can use this trick to make an iso How to download the Windows 8.1 ISO This will also let you repair your installation and is a useful thing to have.

    Having a CustomRefresh.wim (and a system image) as well are also useful as it saves you re-installing in some cases.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Posts : 5
    Windows 8.1


    Thanks for the links. I will make use of them. The advertised media on newegg Newegg.com - Microsoft Windows 8.1 Back-up Media - (Media Only) seems also like a good idea. Hopefully it will make its way over here to Europe.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Harrisonburg, Va.
    Posts : 10,488
    Windows 8.1.1 Pro with Media Center


    Quote Originally Posted by tempde View Post
    Thanks for the feedback. I downloaded Macrium. There are two choices. Two creage an image for recovery purposes, which shows up at over 80GB! Or to create bootable rescue media, which is under 1GB, and seems to replicate what I can already do with the widnows tool.
    Windows will make me the RefreshImage/ CustomRefresh.wim file and place it in C drive. On this computer that is only 9GB or so. I have all my files backed up in the cloud - my main concern is to be able to repair the system files when they get corrupt or go missing as in the past. Is there a third way between the full image copy and the small rescue media? If I just copy the RefreshImage folder made by Windows onto a USB will that work as a bootable repair for example?
    Thanks for any replies.
    Yes, see picture:

    Click image for larger version
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Posts : 5
    Windows 8.1


    This is what I see with the tool and I am not sure what should be chosen. Is it just the system reserved? Is there any way of peeking into this system reserved section to see if it is windows 8.1 and not some leftover from Windows 8 or 7?:
    Click image for larger version
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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