How to Create Recovery Discs or USB Keys in Windows 8

Anytime you have a new Windows system, one of the first things to do is create a bootable repair disc or flash drive. Windows 8 has two approaches to creating emergency recovery media, one new and one left over from Windows 7. They are not obvious but here is how to find and use them. First, I’ll show the new way.
Create recovery disc

Creating recovery media with the new Windows 8 feature

  1. Enter the keyboard shortcut Winkey+W to open the Start screen Settings search.
  2. Type “recovery” (without quotes).
  3. Click “Create a recovery drive”. Example shown by clicking the first thumbnail.
  4. You will be switched to the desktop. Click “Yes” in the UAC challenge.
  5. Click “Next” in the dialog that opens. Depending on your system, there may be an option to include the PC’s recovery partition. An example of the dialog can be seen by clicking the second thumbnail.
  6. A list of available drives will be shown. Or insert a blank USB key with at least 256 MB capacity. Of course, if you are copying the PC’s recovery partition, you will need a lot more than 256 MB. If no USB drives are found and you have an optical drive, the option to use a blank CD or DVD will be shown as well.
  7. Click “Next”. You will be warned that anything already on the drive will be deleted.
  8. Click “Create”.
  9. Click “Finish” when the job is done.
As the size of 256 MB in step 6 indicates, a recovery disc or drive by itself is not a backup. Its function is to provide tools for trying to fix a system that won't boot.

Using the legacy Windows 7 method

It is somewhat confusing but the restore feature that was in Windows 7 is also available in Windows 8.0. However, it is deprecated and is gone from the preview version of Windows 8.1. This feature does have the ability to create a system image, something not present in Windows 8 otherwise. Here is the way to access it.
Legacy restore disc creation in Windows 8
  1. Enter the keyboard shortcut Winkey+W to open the Start screen Settings  search
  2. Type “recovery” (without quotes).
  3. Click “Windows 7 File Recovery”.
  4. You will be switched to the desktop and the dialog shown by clicking the third thumbnail will open. The dialog is labeled Windows 7 even though you are working in Windows 8.
  5. You have the option of creating a system image or a system repair disc.
A quicker way to open the legacy Windows 7 File Recovery is this alternative route:
  1. Open the Run line with the keyboard shortcut Winkey+R
  2. Enter “sdclt”
The details  of using the Windows 7 feature are at this link.

System image backup in Windows 8.1

For whatever reason, Microsoft changed things again in Windows 8.1. There is a feature called "File History" which Microsoft wants you to use for backups. Making a system disk is deprecated but it is still present, only now it's in a different place and is hard to find. Details of how to use Windows 8.1 system image backup can be found at this link.
And there you have it – make a recovery disc or flash drive and rest a little easier. Put the drive or disc someplace safe and hope you never have to use it,