Creating a System Repair Disk on a USB Flash Drive

by Barry Dysert
(last updated December 7, 2015)


Although it takes a bit of time to create a system repair disk, having one will more than pay for itself should you ever find yourself with an unbootable system. Having the original Windows installation disk can serve the same purpose, but many systems do not come with the installation disk. It is therefore recommended that you create your own repair disk, and you may find it more convenient to have this image on a USB drive.

Creating a system repair image on a USB drive is a two-step process. First, you need to create the image on a physical disk. Then you need to get that image onto a dedicated USB drive. To accomplish these steps, follow the process described below.

  1. Go to Start | Control Panel and click the Backup Your Computer link. Windows displays the Backup and Restore portion of the Control Panel.
  2. Click the "Create a system repair disc" option at the left side of the screen. Windows prompts you to insert a blank, unformatted CD or DVD into the appropriate drive on your system. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Create a System Repair Disc dialog box.

  4. Insert the desired disc and then click the Create Disc button. Windows starts creating the repair disc, as requested. During the creation process, Windows keeps you informed as to what is happening. After several minutes you'll be informed that the disc is done and that you should label it. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. Your System Repair Disc is Completed.

  6. Click the Close button to dismiss the dialog box that appeared at the end of step 3.
  7. Click the OK button to dismiss the dialog box that appeared at the end of step 2.
  8. Remove your newly created disk from the drive, label it, and store it in a safe place.

Now that you have a system repair disc, you need to copy the information on the disc to a USB flash drive. Insert a blank USB drive into the computer. Get to a command prompt window and type "diskpart" (without the quotes) and press Enter. This invokes the DiskPart utility. Type "list disk" (again, without the quotes) and press Enter. DiskPart will list the disks it detects. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. DiskPart's listing of the available disks.

I know by looking down the "Size" column that my USB drive is Disk 2. (If you're not sure, unplug your USB drive, and do another "list disk" to see which disk disappeared. Then plug it back in, do a third "list disk", and note the disk number of your USB disk.) Select the USB drive by typing the following:

DISKPART> select disk 2

If your USB drive is different than on my system, make sure you supply the correct disk number for your USB drive. Type the following commands:

DISKPART> create partition primary
DISKPART> select partition 1
DISKPART> active
DISKPART> format fs=NTFS
DISKPART> assign

The last thing to do is to now copy the three items (two folders and one file) from your system repair disc (the CD or DVD you created) to your USB drive. You now have a system repair USB drive.

 This tip (12645) applies to Windows 7.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 35 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer. He is currently a software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. When not working with Windows or writing Tips, Barry is an amateur writer. His first non-fiction book is titled "A Chronological Commentary of Revelation." ...


Changing User Permissions for a File

All objects on your computer (e.g., files) have permissions that allow or deny various types of access. This tip shows ...

Discover More

Closing an Open Port

On a routine security check, you may discover that a particular port is open that shouldn't be. This tip tells you how to ...

Discover More

Switching Between Command Line and File Explorer

Sometimes you can be more effective in a command window, and other times you can be more effective using File Explorer. ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Seeing which Files are Compressed

Compressed files can make it easier to store a lot of information on a hard drive. However, compressed files aren't that ...

Discover More

Getting Rid of Hidden Thumbs.db Files

A hidden file that the system uses to speed performance of your viewing folders containing pictures is called Thumbs.db. ...

Discover More

Working with Compressed Files and Folders via Zip

Windows 10 provides multiple ways to work with compressed files and folders. One great way is to use the Zip utility, ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is four less than 5?

2016-07-14 05:54:58


followed your instructions for creating a system repair disk in a USB flash drive
didn't recognize my usb drive
Windows 7 premium home
Have created a CD repair disc but cant get it to boot no options in my bios

2016-05-09 02:25:34


I would go ahead as planned. I can't imagine that simply copying it on another computer would invalidate the data.

2016-05-08 19:47:44

john barto

i created a win 7 dvd repair disk and my dvd recorder broke down. now I want to copy the repair disk to a usb key on another win 7 computer. I am told that it has to be done on the same pc or it will be rejected, but as I created the repair disk on this computer I expect it to work on this computer even though the copyimng was done on another. Should I go ahead as planned?

2015-12-22 22:20:20

Jeff G

Jim: Barry is correct, and just so you know, the files, for me at least, were less than 200 MB in total. Any flash drive sold these days should be able to hold dozens of copies.

2015-12-22 08:47:57


The size of the USB drive will be about the same as the size of the data written to your DVD.

2015-12-22 08:29:36


How can I determine in advance the size of the flash drive needed?

2015-12-21 16:30:09

Jeff G

Excellent instructions, thank you so much. I looked at many more complicated methods before I found this. I tried them, and they work very well.

2015-12-07 07:54:54


I doubt it's the same procedure for Windows 10, but I don't know for sure.

This is not a backup of your data files, so no, this isn't the backup you want to have before upgrading to Windows 10.

2015-12-07 07:34:32


Will this not work for Windows 10?

2015-12-07 07:27:42


Can this be the back-up you talk about when making a back-up before downloading Windows 10?

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.