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HP Notebook PCs - Creating a Recovery Disk on a USB Flash Disk

HP and Compaq PCs with Windows Vista or Windows 7 are configured with a recovery manager that can return the computer to its original operating condition. By default, the Recovery Manager creates a bootable disk on a blank DVD disc in the optical disc drive. HP also provides a USB Recovery Flash Disk Utility to create a bootable disk on a USB Flash Disk .

Creating a recovery disk on a USB flash disk is helpful for notebooks that do not have an internal optical disc drive. The requirements for creating a Vista or Windows 7 recovery disc on a USB Flash Disk include:

  • Only one copy of the recovery disk can be created.

    If you have already created or attempted to create a recovery DVD disc, do not try to use the Flash Disk Utility. If the first creation process failed, you can get a replacement recovery disc from HP.

  • The computer must have the original HP Vista or Windows 7 configuration, including the recovery partition.

    A USB Recovery disk cannot be created if the original operating system has been changed, or if the Recovery partition has been erased or removed.

  • The USB flash disk for most models must have at least 8 GB of free space available. Verify the exact amount of free space on the flash drive before creating the recovery disk. Use a 16 GB flash disk for best results.

    The use of an 8 GB flash disk will be sufficient for most models, however on some models - depending on the drivers and software installed - creating a recovery disk will require slightly more than 8 GB of space.

  • Connect the flash disk to a USB 2.0 connector. The utility does not recognize USB 3.0.

    The utility will recognize a USB flash disk but a USB external hard drive cannot be used.

Because the recovery manager files being created will be used to protect your computer for years to come, you should select a quality flash disk product made by a well known manufacturer. If the recovery disk creation process fails because of insufficient space on the flash drive, you cannot run the creation process a second time.

Store the recovery disk in a safe place away from the computer.

Do I have to create a recovery disk on a USB flask disk?

Having a recovery disk is necessary if you computer becomes corrupted and you want to recovery it to original operating condition. While the computer is running properly, you have time to consider the costs and convenience of the recovery options. Specifically, you should evaluate the cost of purchasing a USB external optical disk drive and creating a Recovery DVD, versus the cost of purchasing a USB flash drive with 8 GB or more of available space and creating a Recovery image on the flash disk.

Download USB recovery flash disk creation utility

A utility for creating a recovery image on a USB flash disk can be downloaded from the HP web site for the specific operating system. Click one of the following links to download the HP Recovery Flash Disk Utility for Vista or HP Recovery Flash Disk Utility for Windows 7 softpaq.

When prompted to either run or save this file? to your computer, select Save , and download the softpaq to a convenient location on your hard drive, such as the desktop.

NOTE: Do not select Run during the download. If you select Run, the disk creation process will start immediately and you cannot use the computer while the recovery disk on the USB flash disk is being created.

Do select Save to save the program to your hard drive so you can disconnect from the web and run the disk creation at a time you choose.

Run USB recovery flash disk creation utility

After downloading the flash disk creation utility, you can create the actual recovery flash disk. Creating the recovery disk on a USB Flash Disk - with 8 GB or more of free space - can take 30 to 60 minutes or more. All data is deleted from the USB flash disk during the creation process. Do not use the computer for any other activities during the creation process.

You can create the recovery disk by performing the following steps.

  1. Connect the AC power supply.

  2. Save and close all other computer programs.

  3. Insert the USB flash disk in the USB 2.0 connector, and verify there is at least 8 GB of free space .

  4. Double-click the Flash Disk USB Recovery Flash Disk Utility file, which was downloaded earlier, to launch utility.

  5. When prompted, accept the software user agreement.

  6. When prompted, select the desired USB flash disk for installation.

  7. Allow the utility to examine the notebook and then create the USB Flash Disk recovery disk.

During the creation process, the computer will pause periodically and there will be no signs of action for long periods of time. Do not interrupt the disk creation process, nor turn off the power, nor attempt to remove the USB disk. When the creation process is complete, the computer will restart and prompt you to login to the computer.

You should now have a bootable recovery disk on a USB flash disk that can be used to restore your computer to its original factory condition.

Common problems with the USB recovery creation process

The following are common error messages and problems encountered when creating a recovery disk on a USB 2.0 flash drive.

"No removable (USB) drive detected."

To resolve an issue when the utility does not recognize the USB, do the following.

"Removable drive does not have enough space."

Some brands of flash disk advertised as 8 GB drives may have slightly less than the full amount of space available on the disc. Some of the advertised size (4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, etc.) space may be used by the file system or lost in bad sectors.

To resolve this issue you may need to use a 16 GB flash disk.

Unspecific "read" errors

Read errors are usually related to problems with the hard drive, not the USB flash disk. If the utility cannot read the source drive properly, it cannot create the recovery disk. To resolve this issue, do the following.

  1. Press the power button to start the computer, and press the F2 key to launch the hard drive diagnostics.

  2. If the hard drive test returns a good result, re-attempt the image creation. Contact HP if the issue persists.

  3. If a hard drive failure message is returned, contact HP about the need for a replacement hard drive.

Unspecific "write or format" errors

If a message similar to "Drive is write protected", or "Cannot access drive" is displayed, the write protection on the flash drive has been enabled.

  • The write protection feature on most flash disks is a small lever near the connector. The protection can be disabled by moving the lever to a different position.

  • The Windows operating system can set file attributes to hide a file or make a file read-only. Open Windows Explorer, right-click the flash disk to view the properties of any files on the device. Remove any read-only tags.

  • As the steps to troubleshoot flash disks may vary between device manufacturers, please refer to the specific manufacturer's web site for additional support.

"Running on battery power"

Since the recovery disk creation process is CPU and read/write intensive, the computer must be connected to an AC power supply at all times.

To resolve this issue, connect the AC adapter to the notebook PC, and view the power LED lights to verify that power is available at the computer. If the error persists, contact HP to discuss this particular issue.

"Recovery media has been created before"

You are licensed to make only one copy of Recovery utility.

If you no longer have that Recovery disk, you can purchase a replacement Recovery disk from HP. See HP Notebook PCs - Order Recovery Discs For Windows 7, Vista, Or XP .

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