Create a USB Memory Stick with System Recovery Tools in Windows 7

In one of our previous articles, we've shown how to create a system repair disc on a CD/DVD, with just with a few clicks. In will continue the discussion by showing how to create a bootable flash memory stick with system recovery tools on it.

Preparing the Memory Stick and Getting The Needed Files

There are times when having a bootable USB flash with System Recovery tools is useful, especially if you are a netbook owner. Creating and using a USB flash memory stick with recovery tools is quite easy, if you follow the steps described below.

First of all you need to insert the memory stick into a USB port on your computer. Open Windows Explorer, right click on the drive and choose Format.

NOTE: Before formatting your memory stick, don't forget to backup your files as the process will erase all its contents.

System Recovery USB Memory Stick

In the next window choose the NTFS format and click on Start. The other configuration options are not important, the defaults work just fine.

System Recovery USB Memory Stick

After you formatted the USB stick, create on it two folders named boot and sources, as shown in capture below.

System Recovery USB Memory Stick

The Recovery and Boot folders on your computer will contain the files needed to be copied on the memory stick.

The first folder is located at 'C:\Recovery'. This folder is used by Windows 7 to load System Recovery tools.

The Boot folder is located at 'C:\Windows\Boot' and its contents is used to boot the operating system.

Both folders are hidden by default. To view them, open Windows Explorer and access Folder Options. In the View tab check 'Show hidden files, folders and drive' and uncheck 'Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)'. Press the Apply button to enable the new settings.

NOTE: The 'C:' letter represents the drive where the operating system is installed. It can be different on your computer.

System Recovery USB Memory Stick

Next, you need to open the Recovery folder on your computer. By default it can't be accessed, even though you are logged on as Administrator.

In order to open it, follow the steps described in the article Take Ownership and Change Permissions of Files and Folders and add 'Full control' permissions for your user.

System Recovery USB Memory Stick

How To Put System Repair Tools on the USB Flash

Now you have all the needed files to create the bootable memory stick. First open the Recovery folder. You will notice a sub-folder with an automatically generated name (series of numbers and letters) with a standard length of 32 characters. Open it.

NOTE: The folder name will be different from one PC to another.

System Recovery USB Memory Stick

Next you have to copy the file boot.sdi to the folder boot from the memory stick.

System Recovery USB Memory Stick

Then copy the Winre.wim file to the sources folder from the memory stick and rename it to boot.wim.

System Recovery USB Memory Stick

Now open the folder 'C:\Windows\Boot\DVD\PCAT' and copy the BCD file to the boot folder from the stick.

System Recovery USB Memory Stick

Go to 'C:\Windows\Boot\DVD\PCAT\en-US' and copy the bootfix.bin file to the folder boot from the USB flash.

System Recovery USB Memory Stick

Finally, go to C:\Windows\Boot\PCAT and copy the bootmgr file to the root of the memory stick.

System Recovery USB Memory Stick

The structure of the newly created memory stick should be similar to the one from picture below. The boot folder contains the files: BCD, boot.sdi and bootfix.bin files, and the sources folder hosts only the boot.wim file. In the root directory of the stick you have to have the file bootmgr.

System Recovery USB Memory Stick

After you've completed all the steps from this tutorial I recommend you to test the newly created bootable stick. Reboot your computer and boot from the memory stick to check if it works properly. If it works, you will get System Recovery Tools menu.

NOTE: In order to boot from a flash memory, the removable device has to be the first device in the 'Boot Device Order' section of the computer BIOS.


The option to create a system repair stick is a great insurance to have in case your computer crashes. I'm hoping you will find this tip useful, when needed. For more information about the recovery tools, read the articles below. Also, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment.