Windows allows you to create a recovery drive either with or without the system files. However, if you choose to back up system files to the recovery drive, at times, you may encounter the “we can’t create the recovery drive” error.
The error message further reads “a problem occurred while creating the recovery drive.” If you experience this issue, here is how to troubleshoot the error and create your recovery drive successfully.
What Causes the “We Can’t Create a Recovery Drive” Error?
This error often occurs when you choose to back up system files to the recovery drive. If you unselect the system files back up option, the recovery drive completes without error.
Reasons for this error can vary. But often includes bad sectors in your USB drive, conflicting background services, and temporary glitches.
1. Perform a Full Format of Your USB Drive
You can fix this error by formatting your USB flash drive. However, the trick here is to perform a full format.
Windows, by default, chooses the Quick Format option to complete the format quickly. But this option does not check your drive for bad sectors, which can often trigger errors when copying files.
If you uncheck the Quick Format option, Windows will perform a full format, check for bad sectors, and mark them as unusable. Here’s how to do it.
- Open File Explorer and right-click on the USB drive you intend to use as the recovery drive.
- Select the Format option.
- In the Format window, uncheck Quick Format under Format options.
- Click Start to format your USB drive. This process will take a while to complete, so wait till the process is complete.
Once done, run the recovery drive tool and see if the error is resolved.
2. Scan for a Computer Virus
If you notice the recovery drive process stops abruptly right after a Microsoft Security notification pops up in Notification Center, check your system for virus infection.
Click on the security notification and take recommended actions to remove the malware. If no action is available, perform a full scan using Microsoft Defender to remove any hidden malware.
To perform a full scan using Microsoft Defender:
- Press Win + I to open Settings.
- In the left pane, click on Privacy & Security.
- Next, click on Windows Security.
- Then, click on Virus and threat protection under Protection areas.
- Under Current threats, click on Scan options.
- Click Custom scan and click the Scan now button.
- Next, select your Primary drive (C:) as the drive that you want to scan and click Select folder.
- Microsoft Defender will scan the selected drive for malware. If found, take recommended actions to clean your system.
While Microsoft Defender is a potent security tool, consider using a third-party antivirus for Windows like Malwarebytes to scan your system for potential threats.
After cleaning up your system for malware, create a recovery drive and see if it completes without the “can’t create a recovery drive” error.
3. Add a File, Delete It, and Then Create a Recovery Drive
If the issue persists, here’s a quirky solution to this problem. You can copy a random file to your USB drive. Then, delete the file and run the recovery drive utility to complete the process without the error. Here’s how to do it.
- Make sure your USB flash drive is formatted correctly.
- Next, copy a random file and paste it onto your USB drive in File Explorer.
- Right-click on the copied file and select Delete.
- Once the file is deleted, launch the Recovery Drive tool, and continue with the recovery drive process.
4. Use a Two-Step Method to Bypass the Error
Another workaround to fix the “a problem occurred while creating the recovery drive” error is using the two-step method. It involves creating the recovery drive twice. First, you will need to complete the process without backing up system files. Then, repeat the process with the system files backup option selected, and hopefully, it will complete successfully.
- Press the Win key, type recovery drive, and launch the tool.
- In the Recovery Drive wizard uncheck the Back up system files to the recovery drive option.
- Click Next.
- Select the USB drive that you intend to use as a recovery drive.
- Click Next to continue.
- Click the Create button to confirm the action. The utility will format the drive and copy the required files to the storage device.
- Regardless of whether you see an error or the process complete successfully, don’t click the Finish or Close button.
- Instead, click the Back button (in the top left corner). Alternatively, press the Alt + B key to go back all the way to the Create a recovery drive window.
- Here, select the Back up system files to the recovery drive option and click Next.
- Next, select your USB drive, and click Next.
- Click Create to initiate the process and create a recovery drive without any error.
5. Temporarily Disable Microsoft Services
You can manually disable a few Microsoft Word and Excel services to resolve the recovery drive error. Reportedly, the Application Virtualization service seems to conflict with the process. So, disabling these services should help you create a recovery drive without triggering the error.
- Press Win + R to open Run.
- Type msconfig and click OK to open System Configuration.
- In the System Configuration window, open the Services tab.
- Next, locate and uncheck the following services:
Application Virtualization Services Agent
Application Virtualization Client
Client Virtualization Handler
- Once you have unselected the services, click Apply to disable the services and save the changes.
Restart your PC, run the recovery drive utility and check for any improvements. Note that, irrespective of the result, enable the three services that you previously disabled in System Configuration and restart your PC to avoid any issues with Microsoft Office apps.
6. Create a Bootable USB Drive
If the error persists, consider creating a Windows bootable USB drive instead. A recovery drive offers repair tools and additional files to reinstall Windows if you choose to back up system files.
With a Windows bootable USB flash drive, you can get a similar set of tools and more. Unlike the recovery drive, a bootable installation media offers more flexibility as you can continue to add and use other files to the storage device.
Fixing the “Cannot Create a Recovery Drive” Error
You can troubleshoot your USB flash drive issues by performing a full format to fix the recovery drive error. Additionally, use the other workarounds mentioned in the article and see if that helps. Finally, if you must create a recovery drive, perform an in-place Windows upgrade to reinstall the operating system without deleting apps or data and then try again.
By default, Windows 11 can reinstall itself while keeping your files, but what about your apps? Fortunately, there’s a solution for that.
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