Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Win 8.1 running fine - but trying to prepare for recovery

  1. #1

    Win 8.1 running fine - but trying to prepare for recovery


    Just got a new ASUS pc for my mom, with Win 8.1 ( it came with 8.0 and I did the free upgrade to 8.1)

    I want to do the normal preparation so I can more easily recover from a hard disk failure or system corruption without having a heart attack, but its getting more and more difficult asL
    - manufacturer no longer provide Window media ( or the key!)
    - Microsoft, bless them, makes this harder and harder to do every year.

    In terms of backing up the system files, I am aware of 4 strategies, but I have some issues with each already (!):

    1) USB Bootable drive from ISO ( fits an 4-8GB USB)
    This is normally straightforward to do when you have the DVD media (ie create an ISO file form the DVD and then create a bootable USB from the ISO). I do this for the machines I build from scratch, and sure is a pleasure . But the folks at ASUS, like many manufacturers , chose not to supply the 50 cent media DVD or a $4 USB stick They don't even supply the key. I wrote them to get a DVD, or bootable USB, and the key, and they are considering my request. They suggested I could take a image copy of thier install partition (buts I cant as I am on 8.1 and am not going back). I scoured many sites which talk about 8.1 ISO files, figuring I could download one, but they all start with the assumption one has 8.0 and a 8.0 key, which I do not have. Hopefully ASUS will come thru and ship me the DVD install media or bootable USB, and the key. I could not find the key on my own even using Belarc. They key is pretty crucial as when I went to the Windows store to upgrade to Window Pro, it asked for the key 8.1 key!! Are there other options here ? ..or am I at the mercy of ASUS? I don't feel I should have to pay $50 for a recovery disc on a brand new computer that is unrecoverable if it fails.


    2- Windows - Create Recovery Drive(it prompts for a 32 GB stick) .
    Have not tried this yet - need to buy 32 GB stick, but juts curious,, does this yield me a self-contained bootable USB drive like (1)? which reloads Win 8.1 ( even without a key?), .. or does it just yield me an image for which I still need something else to fully recover?

    3- Windows System Image
    - fair enough, but useless on its own if I cannot get 8.1 reloaded.

    4- Third party Image backup software. similar to (3) but a bit better as one boots with a bootable device to reload the image to get back in business- correct?

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    On Windows 8 PC's with the OS pre installed by the manufacturer, the product key is embedded in the BIOS. For my ASUS laptop the procedure for creating recovery media is as you mention in option 2. You launch Recovery from Control Panel, select create a recovery drive and check the box for "Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive". I think mine was a 16 GB thumb drive.
    This is what I went though, its a long thread. New ASUS laptop has no recovery disk utlity! In the end I never got to actually test it out as I swapped the factory drive with a smaller SSD. I could not get the recovery drive to reset back to the SSD. In the end I just did a clean install. Official unmodified Microsoft Windows 8 ISO's/DVD's will read the embedded code automatically. Mine gets read and 8 Core is installed without me having to enter a product key. Activation is done online automatically once you have connected to the Internet. Microsoft Windows 8.1 ISO's/DVD's will not use the 8.0 OEM embedded code. You'll get prompted to enter a code and it has to be an 8.1 product code for the install to continue. You can activate with an 8.0 code though.
    Product Key - Find for Windows 8
    Activate retail Windows 8.1 with Windows 8 Product key.
    Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 ISO - Download or Create << You need a Retail key for this to work.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Posts : 5,592
    ME, XP,Vista,Win7,Win8,Win8.1


    3- Windows System Image - fair enough, but useless on its own if I cannot get 8.1 reloaded.

    4- Third party Image backup software. similar to (3) but a bit better as one boots with a bootable device to reload the image to get back in business- correct?
    INCORRECT, both use a Bootable device to reimage.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    On Windows 8 PC's with the OS pre installed by the manufacturer, the product key is embedded in the BIOS. For my ASUS laptop the procedure for creating recovery media is as you mention in option 2. You launch Recovery from Control Panel, select create a recovery drive and check the box for "Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive". I think mine was a 16 GB thumb drive.
    This is what I went though, its a long thread. New ASUS laptop has no recovery disk utlity! In the end I never got to actually test it out as I swapped the factory drive with a smaller SSD. I could not get the recovery drive to reset back to the SSD. In the end I just did a clean install. Official unmodified Microsoft Windows 8 ISO's/DVD's will read the embedded code automatically. Mine gets read and 8 Core is installed without me having to enter a product key. Activation is done online automatically once you have connected to the Internet. Microsoft Windows 8.1 ISO's/DVD's will not use the 8.0 OEM embedded code. You'll get prompted to enter a code and it has to be an 8.1 product code for the install to continue. You can activate with an 8.0 code though.
    Product Key - Find for Windows 8
    Activate retail Windows 8.1 with Windows 8 Product key.
    Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 ISO - Download or Create << You need a Retail key for this to work.
    Thanks much, but as you point out, none of those options/links work for me as I am already on 8.1 activated, with an OEM version, wanting to create a bootable USB for future recovery, that would get me back to 8.1 if my system failed. I dont think it can be done.

    If I am understanding you correctly,:
    - you successfully used the "Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive" option, using a 16GB USB, and it created a bootable USB drive.
    - when you boot from that drive, it will rebuild your system, essentially to factory settings to 8.0 (and yes it will read the key from the BIOS.

    (When I tried that, ie prompted me on screen for 32GB -perhaps because I am already on 8.1). I will buy a 32GB and see what happens -)

    So in theory, what happens next??? If you are back to 8.0 factory, can you use 8.1 image backups( eg from (3) or (4) to restore yourself to where you were before a failure?

    Big mistake to buy Windows 8 PC's with the OS pre installed by the manufacturer. There is no way to recover if you ever upgraded and no way to upgrade to Pro ( as it prompts for a key) and even if you find the embedded key it wont accept it. Will never do that again. As long as MS has activation keys, I will buy it retail - I want to hold media in my hands and see the key with my eyes. Everything elese is voodoo magic, may or may not work, and is an utter and complete waste of time.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Germany/Florida
    Posts : 4,514
    Vista and Win7


    Do #4 with this option. That is the easiest and most reliable. And download the recovery .iso from my Skydrive. Makes it easy.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 5,592
    ME, XP,Vista,Win7,Win8,Win8.1


    if my system failed.
    So in theory, what happens next??? If you are back to 8.0 factory, can you use 8.1 image backups( eg from (3) or (4) to restore yourself to where you were before a failure?
    NO, use the Windows 8.1 back up image on the new drive.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    ?..I swapped the factory drive with a smaller SSD. I could not get the recovery drive to reset back to the SSD. ..
    That's a fairly important point ....and a typically scenario... Ie, the drive fails, replace the drive, attempt to recover. If it doesn't work, (as if by design), what's the point of the recovery drive? Seems that :

    - the recovery drive would only work if restored back to the original OEM drive
    - changing out the original OEM drive means one needs to start fresh, with a retail install.

    Accurate statement?..or am I still not quite understanding.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by whs View Post
    Do #4 with this option. That is the easiest and most reliable. And download the recovery .iso from my Skydrive. Makes it easy.
    Many many thanks. Tried Macrium briefly before...time to revisit it.

    Re the ISO file, is that a Win 7 or Win 8 ISO??
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Posts : 5,592
    ME, XP,Vista,Win7,Win8,Win8.1


    - the recovery drive would only work if restored back to the original OEM drive
    - changing out the original OEM drive means one needs to start fresh, with a retail install.

    Accurate statement?..or am I still not quite understanding.
    YES & NO.

    Using the Windows Recovery USB Drive, will only Reset on the original OEM drive with all original partitions inplace.



    Using the OEM manufacturer's Recovery USB Drive, will Reset to a unformatted drive.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Posts : 5,592
    ME, XP,Vista,Win7,Win8,Win8.1


    Quote Originally Posted by Mediaman09 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by whs View Post
    Do #4 with this option. That is the easiest and most reliable. And download the recovery .iso from my Skydrive. Makes it easy.
    Many many thanks. Tried Macrium briefly before...time to revisit it.

    Re the ISO file, is that a Win 7 or Win 8 ISO??
    I would use the Windows 8/8.1 version, Which is signed by Microsoft.
    Macrium Reflect Free - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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