Vista SP1: Create a recovery disc

Update: This feature has since been removed from the final release of Windows Vista Service Pack 1. It was only available during the beta period and you will not be able to utilize the feature today. If however you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can use a little hack to add in this feature.

Create a recovery discOne of the new administrative tools Windows Vista Service Pack 1 provides is the ability to create a recovery disc. At first, the name might fool you into thinking the type of discs system manufacturers provide to you when you purchase a new computer to restore your computer to a factory state, but this is not that. A more appropriate name would be “Windows repair disc”.

To be blunt, this tool creates merely a slimmed-down Windows installation disc. It takes a normal Windows installation disc image and strips out all the “installation” functionality leaving only the repair tools and common system files.

What a lot of people don’t know (or need to know) is that their Windows Vista DVDs are in fact running Windows PE, an extremely lightweight version of Windows that can be booted from removable media for the purpose of system maintenance. Up until now, creating a Windows PE image was not an easy task. This tool basically simplifies it down to just two clicks.

[flv:createrecovery.flv 508 340]

You can find the tool in the “Start menu” > “All programs” > “Maintenance” > “Create a Recovery Disc”. You will need either a blank CD or DVD along with your original Windows installation disc. It will take approximately 5 minutes to complete.

Recovery disk - Install WindowsRecovery disk - Install Windows fail

If you boot this CD/DVD, it will look identical to your Windows installation disc. You will be asked to choose a language and even present you the “Install now” button. If you do decide to go on, you won’t get very far before an error stops you.

System Recovery Options

To enter the Windows Recovery Environment, click the “Repair your computer” link at the bottom of the welcome screen and select the Windows partition you wish to repair. After this, it will present you with a list of options including startup repair, system restore and command prompt. This is identical to the repair screen you would see in your installation disk. From here, you can even do a literally last-minute backup by sticking in a USB flash drive and copy documents across. Because it runs Windows, most USB drivers are available and it’ll work out of the box.

Because this is not an actual Windows install disk, it only takes up a few hundred MBs to fit on a CD, and you are free to make as many copies as you like and even share it with others. It’ll be even better if you can create a bootable USB version.

86 insightful thoughts

  1. While I do agree that creating a Windows PE disc is not as easy as creating an Vista recovery disc. (Even then it’s not exactly rocket science).

    Is there anyone that uses Windows PE? Everywhere I go I usually see people with BartPE discs.

    BARTPE Installation

    1. Download BartPE and unzip it.
    2. Point to your original XP/2003 media.
    3. Execute BartPE and it will even automagically burn it to CD for you.

    If you wish to customize it further you can add whatever packages you wish. If you need it to be easier than that then you shouldn’t be using such tools anyway.

  2. Long, can you tell me the name of the program the shortcut on your start menu “Create a Recovery Disc” starts. I have Windows Vista Ultimate x64 and that menu shortcut is not on my computer.

    I have been able to create a Recovery Partition on my computer following the directions given here:


  3. Pingback:
  4. @Tom Philippart: You sure do, as long as the default drivers work with your chipset. Otherwise you’ll have to manually load the network driver which is tougher, but still workable.

  5. I don’t get it why they implement this in SP1. Is there a Vista version out without a recovery CD/DVD?

  6. SP1 is limited to approx 12000 beta (those who tested Vista client / RTM got an invite few weeks back [not all did, only selected participants got]). Beta 2 might be open, but for now if you didn’t test the client/RTM, you are out of luck.

  7. Long, can you explain why sometimes I see the Vista GUI overlaid with dialogs in the classic GUI? I see this all the time with Windows Home Server screenshots. You have some shots here as well. It makes no sense to me.

  8. Kinda disappointed, I was hoping the Vista Team would resolve the issue of OEMs only giving users a Recovery Disc instead of a separate Operating System disk. Yes, a recovery environment is nice, but, the ability to create a backup OS disk would have been nice so you can reinstall your drivers and just the OS without all the OEM Junk.

  9. Just add a lite windows Explorer, and ALL GUI application in Windows Core Server to this recovery CD. And hopefully it can do basic command prompt task, like chkdsk and other.

  10. Are you sure you can give it away? Did Microsoft say it was okay? Their lawyers are awfully picky about this sort of thing.

  11. I just got this error when I posted to this thread:

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  12. @Windows Luser: I’m not sure, but this is a problem that’s creating a removable media for you, which is not owned by any user as far as I’m aware.

  13. Why do I need Windows Vista system and Service Pack 1 if my Windows XP provides me the ability to create a recovery disc?

  14. If you can give it away, any place I can download the disc Long? I’m not planning to install SP1 ever because it does not offer the solutions I was looking for. Luc.

  15. DosFreak: Bart PE’s great, but it’s less effective than WinPE 2.0 for Vista, and it is limited by the underlying \i386 code base. So it can’t see S-ATA hard drives on certain controllers unless drivers are added, and that can cut deeper than WinPE 2.0 or Ubuntu 7.04 (e.g. both work on G33 chipset’s ICH9 S-ATA, whereas Bart doesn’t).

    Tino: The problem (as highlighted by Andre De Costa) is that large OEMs don’t supply generic full-featured Vista DVDs – you either get no DVD at all, or one that simply wipes the HD to restore the OEM’s choice of partitioning, installation, bundled stuff from “business partners”, etc.

    Serg, RC: AFAIK Vista RTM does not provide tools to generate bootable maintenance OS (mOS) CDs or DVDs. If your installation has that, it’s most likely to be OEMware, and the disk it spawns may lack the full set on non-destructive maintenance features.

    I see this new Vista SP1 feature as a very valuable way to kickstart mOS availability for end-users – and a timely hedge against bootable Linux, which has come to rival MSware as a mOS (as Knoppix did for XP, before Bart got traction).

  16. I used to support Win XP for M$ on the phones a couple of years back. one of the requests we made to M$ was the ability to create a separate Recovery Console only disk for Win XP. There were so many times that we had to support OEM customers that would not have OS media so we could not try any manual system recovery operations for those customers and had to forward them to the OEM who would then just do a destructive recovery….

    This is just the Vista version of giving the Recovery Console on a separate CD for Win XP.

    This will really help those helpless users… but only if they make and keep one of these disks handy before being struch with a problem…

  17. I’m sorry but I can’t seem to find Create a Recovery Disc in my Maintenace folder… I know somebody else already asked this question but I can’t undersatnd… Thank you!

  18. can you use this disc to repair the vista boot log. i have pre loaded home premium and im trying to make a dual boot with xp.

  19. I have SP1 installed, but i can’t execute this program! It isn’t on the start menu and when i execute it from the system 32 folder nothing happens, does anyone know what happened?

  20. Dear Long

    This is not related SP1 for Vista. I could not find an appropriate place.

    You produced a very comprehensive piece for upgrading XP to Vista.

    Have you produced an equally comprehensive guide for uninstalling Vitsa from a Laptop (Toshiba) and installing s Retail version of XP Pro for those who have bought laptops with Vista and want to revert to XP. There are a lot of them. I believe there is an issue concerning the BIOS of this course is followed but there seems to be conflicting opinions.;

  21. Hi Richard,

    YOu can downgrade from Vista to XP, there are a couple of ways.
    One is to contatc Toshiba for a recovery Disc for the same Notebook with the XP operating system.
    The other is a Manual Downgrade.
    Please do the following:

    Download all the Drivers needed for your Notebook compatible with XP and put onto Disc.
    Insert the Xp Media Disc.
    Format the Main Drive, and Install XP.
    You will then need to load all the Drivers specific to that Model Notebook.

  22. This is just a mending step from Microsoft to retain its status. Before release of Vista, it advertised a lots that its going to be much improved with additional features and advantages. But after it had been released many fussss and tussss bugs appeared. Therefore to resolve these various bugs and issues Vista SP1 release is a good step. Additionally, for recovering or repairing Vista there is a Vista Recovery Disc available in the net. I used it already and got fruitful results.

  23. I’m running vista sp1 right now, but I can’t find this option… Was it removed?


  24. a file ”ffpsrv,exe has stopped woking”’ ís the problem with my system now.can send me a link to fix this?

  25. For those of you who do not see the option in your maintenance folder, just enter “recovery” into the search field on your start menu and it will bring you to where the app is…

  26. Entering Recovery in Search did not bring up Vista related recovery at all even though there is some stuff in System32 that it should have found. I ran it to find all files including system files. It found more.

    It found a series of 8 RecoveryDisc.*.etl files that probably have the recovery info in them. However, recdisk.exe will not run even after changing Permissions so those files are not useful without a way to use them to create the disk.

    It did find the Gateway recovery info. That is not what I wanted, though.

  27. hi i cannot find the Create a Recovery Disc in the Start menu > All programs > Maintenance > Create a Recovery Disc i have a vista home premium
    plz can some one help

  28. I can’t believe it’s this complicated to create a recovery disk. Nothing in the Start/All Progs/Maintenance menu. The program recdisk.exe in windows/system32 does nothing. I’m running Vista Home Premium SP1. Is is definately in this release/service pack ?

  29. I just bought a recovery disk from Best Buy, and I can’t get it to work. It says something about “No valid…” Does anyone know how to run the recovery disk??

  30. Will this work on the ultimate 64 bit version? Cannot find Recovery disk in my start menu either and hace SP1 installed

  31. Well, I did it. but I need to burn it in two disk. Window told me that I need to burn in two disk.

  32. I just tried the suggestion about entering ” recovery” in the start up search menu and it took me right to where I needed to be to make the recovery disk. Thank you so much for your help.

  33. @Josh and Ramanathan: If you have WinVista SP x32, go to Start > Help and Support > Backup and Recovery and the “Launch VAIO Recovery Center” should be at the bottom. You can create your Recovery Discs from there. Or you can just dl the ISO file and burn it onto a CD and boot from it.. but I’m not sure what the difference is.. =\

  34. I cannot get to the start menu. The only screen is windows error recovery window and my computer did not come with a start up disk. I down loaded a recovery disk, but I can’t even get to the start windoe.

  35. How if i dont have the Vista installation disc? I only have a sticker of seriel number on bottomof laptop.

  36. Thanks 😀
    I didn’t need a Vista installation disk to do this, I guess it used my laptop’s recovery partition.
    If Vista ever breaks, I’ll use Ubuntu to recover my files, and then the recovery disk to restore Vista 🙂

  37. This feature was removed from my final release of vista service pack 1, But somehow I stubbled upon cdcreatorlauncher. thats CD CREATOR. and I was able to make a 3 disk dvd restore system. Good luck, I couldn’t tell you how to get there, as I said I just stubbled upon it. :->

  38. Hi, please help me for my below question.

    I have HP DV9000 series which came with Vista Home Premium. Now system has automatically upgraded Vista SP1 through Windows update.

    I want to download Vista SP1 from Microsoft website ( and write them as recovery discs. Can I burn the exe file as recovery discs? Please write me the steps how to burn into recovery discs. (I am not a technical person)

    Let me know for any questions – Thanks in advance 🙂

  39. I need Windows Vista system and Service Pack 1 if my Windows XP provides me the ability to create a recovery disc?My PC can’t on.. please help me

  40. I am on windows vista Home Premium SP1, but i do not see an option to create recovry disk.

    when i type recdisc.exe in start…. i do see the exe file but notihng happens after clicking it. Can any one guide ?

  41. Have Acer-Aspire 5630; try to udpate to MS Vista SP2; laptop getting stuck…please see details section. I would really appreciate the help as not a computer savvy when it comes to these issues. Thanks in advance.1. Now as it boots up its getting stuck with following error message;
    !! 0xc0000034 !! 146/45946 (_0000000000000000.cdf-ms)
    2. I do not have MS VISTA disc, recovery disc.
    3. I have tried to go with option F8 via safe mode and then it start loading files and stop at following Last file:
    Loaded: \windows\system32\drivers\crcdisk.sys
    and at the bottom of grey bar its says; Please wait…and just sits there.
    4. Try to system restore and when I get to the the point where to pick the restore point; all is one option availvable is to restore from MS vista SP2 but brings back to #1 bullet point;
    1. Now as it boots up its getting stuck with following error message;
    !! 0xc0000034 !! 146/45946 (_0000000000000000.cdf-ms)

  42. I cannot get Windows Vista to boot up to create this disk. Is there a place where i can copy it and take it to my computer?

  43. @Long Is it possible to download and burn this on an external harddrive such as Maxtor or maybe Iphone/Ipod instead of a flash/CD/DVD-drive? And if so, which burning programme would you recommend? I currently have ImgBurn, but that one only burns files to Bluray, USB/CD/DVD drives.

    Oh, and one more thing. I have HP Pavilion Home Premuim Vista 32-bit SP1 right now. Can I install the Windows Vista Ultimate 32 bit recovery with SP3 on my computer without it changing my files – just fixes the damages? Or would that make matters worse?

    Appreciate any help 🙂

  44. Dear All,

    I have using compque cq40 with window vista and i have deleted my recovery drive data
    so plz help me how can i recover my window recovery manage is showing error recovery partition not found.
    please reply me on my email id- [email protected]

  45. Um hey.

    Well um my Vista laptop needs a reformatting but the problem is that i cant find the “create a Recovery disk” In the Maintenance folder… And my laptop information did say that the laptop is a Windows Vista Service Pack 1. So does anyone know the problem?

  46. Um hey.

    Well um my Vista laptop needs a reformatting but the problem is that i cant find the “create a Recovery disk” In the Maintenance folder… And my laptop information did say that the laptop is a Windows Vista Service Pack 1. So does anyone know the problem?

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