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Windows 8.1: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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The USB Recovery Drive

Here’s the sneaky surprise: You computer may have come with an invisible “hard drive” (a partition of your main drive). It’s about 5 gigabytes in size.

When the day comes that your computer won’t start up, you’ll be glad you had this “separate” disk. On it, Microsoft has provided some emergency tools for fixing drive or software glitches, restoring files, and even reinstalling Windows.

Better yet, you can create a USB flash drive that does the same thing. That’s handy if (a) your computer does not have a recovery partition, or (b) you wouldn’t mind deleting the recovery partition from your drive, so you can use the space for your own files.

  1. Find out if your computer does, in fact, have has a recovery partition.

    To do that, open the Command Prompt as shown in Figure 22-9.

    At the >, type this: recimg /showcurrent. Then press Enter. If you see “There is no active custom recovery image,” then you don’t have a partition yet. You’ll have to create one before you can make your USB recovery drive; see step 2.

    If you see “Operation completed successfully” instead, you do have the recovery partition. Skip to step 3.

  2. Create the recovery partition.

    While still in Command Prompt, type mkdir C:\RefreshImage, and then press Enter. It looks like nothing happened, but behind the scenes, you’ve just created a folder called RefreshImage.

    Now, at the >, type recimg -CreateImage C:\RefreshImage, and then press Enter. You’ll see status messages (“Creating snapshot,” “Writing image,” and ...

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