Recovery Media, Repair Media, Installation Media, News Media, Long Island Medium
This all began with a question from one of our InfoAve subscribers, Jim B. who wrote to ask us about recovery drives, repair discs, and installation media. Jim wrote:
“I have read several “explanations” from you guys (or gal) about the care and feeding of:
1.) Installation Media 2.) Recovery Drive (USB) and 3.) Repair Disc. for Windows 10. One takes a long time to create (Installation media) but the other two just takes a “few” minutes.
Questions: Do I need (or want) all three flavors to get things done? I read one thing and get the idea that all three do pretty much the same thing. Then another one of your publications gives me the feeling that, “nope, I should have this one and that one.
Can you simplify this in less than a page of print? My brane hertz…”
Less than a page of print? Ha! Surely you jest! You should know us better, man!
A Brief History of Geeks
Some people just like to make things complicated so they can keep all this computer knowledge stuff arcane so they can continue to look down upon the masses – and no one is more “masses” than good old Darcy & TC.
We can’t help what Microsoft does or what other tech sites do, but we can decide what we do – sometimes.
I’m going to make a long story short, which I seldom do. So consider yourself lucky,
A Brief History of Windows and Discs
1. Back in the days before Windows 10, back when Windows was Windows, there were not many built-in options to repair your computer, so Microsoft recommended you created a Password reset disc, Repair disc, and a Recovery disc. Maybe they were in cahoots with the CD/DVD people? Who knows. Anyway…Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP installation media either came with your computer or you were out of luck. Because, computer manufacturers, in order to save a dollar or two, stopped giving computer purchasers a Windows installation disk somewhere during the life of Windows XP – which is still alive, but barely. So no one was out there writing articles and more articles telling you to make Windows installation media. No one was making Windows installation discs except Microsoft and foreign nationals that Microsoft branded “Pirates”.
(This story is not very short is it? One page! Ha!)
Somewhere during the long, long lifespan of Windows 7, Microsoft made it really easy to create Windows installation media. All you needed to do was download an ISO file (a disc image) and burn it to disk. Then grab your Magic Marker and write “Windows 7 Installation Disc (or Disk)” on it.
Then, probably because Microsoft was making it easier on “pirates”, in order to download the ISO file to make an installation disc for Windows 7, you had to provide Microsoft with your Windows 7 product key. Which is understandable and OK, except that most Windows 7 computers are getting up in years – 7 or 8 years old. There’s nothing wrong with being old – heck look at me! — but the stickers they stick on computers with the Windows product key tend to get icky (sorry for the technical term) and unreadable. Or just as bad, the product-key stickers fall off and get eaten by the family cat(s) or dog(s) – or get swept up by the Dyson with its amazing suction.
A New Day Dawns!
Then Windows 10 was introduced and a new age of Windows began. Windows 10 was first introduced to wash away the bad taste of Windows 8 from the mouths of Windows users.
( A little aside: Microsoft has a has a history of doing this sort of thing. Microsoft introduced Windows XP to wash the bad taste of Windows ME out of the mouths of Windows users and more recently Windows 7 to flush away the memory of Windows Vista.)
See the pattern there? Every other Windows release is not so good. Luckily, Windows 10 was the flusher and not the flushee. It wiped away the bad memories of Windows 8 from the bits and bytes of consumer minds.
And yes, it’s true: There are a lot of people who still hate Microsoft for doing away with Windows XP. But you don’t become the world’s richest man when you own a company that doesn’t introduce new products more often than necessary. Look at Henry Ford. GM was worth a lot more as a company than Ford Motor Company, but not many in that era were worth more than good old Henry. The more things change the more they stay he same. This kind of thing continues today – not with Henry, God rest his soul, but with Bill Gates and Apple. Apple is worth a lot more Microsoft, but Bill Gates ($90 billion) is worth a lot more than Apple’s CEO Tim Cook (only a couple measly billion). And a lot more than Steve Jobs too, God rest his soul, and a lot more than Steve Wozniak. (And a lot more than TC and EB whose combined wealth comes to roughly $142.17 and there are still groceries to buy.
[Another aside here: Have you ever noticed that every CEO of Apple is skinny? Steve Jobs was skinny. Tim Cook is skinny. Do you have to have a 28-inch waist to be CEO of Apple? Well, EB, we need not apply for that job!]
Windows 10 and the Long Island Medium
Windows 10 came along and, of course, in a flurry of confusion there was a lot of talk about recovery media, repair media and installation media. Notice that the word disc was replaced by media – not to be confused with “news media”. That’s because in this modern age, it’s not cool to use bootable DVDs…. nope now it’s really cool to use bootable USBs to install (and repair and recover) Windows.
Yay, when ye walk in the valley of Walmart, ye shall find Windows 10 in a small white package right next to Norton (larger yellow package). And lo! what ye shall find, should ye be willing to part with the $100+ to purchase Windows 10 in the small white package and take it home and open it – is a USB flash drive. Verifly I say unto you – you will find a $1.22 (wholesale) USB flash drive loaded up with all 3.4 GB of Windows 10, and quite nicely printed up with the Windows 10 logo and a bunch of copyright stuff and warnings of hefty fines and long imprisonment if ye dare trespass against the mighty Microsoft’s copyrights and patents and so on.
But ye of little faith… do not let this new wave of coolness overwhelm you. If you have a computer with a CD/DVD drive you can still make make installation media ( I would lke to say medium but that’s a clairvoyant and not the singular of media, so the grammar police and vocabulary constable won’t belittle me), by jumping through a couple more hoops than if you choose to make USB installation media… although it would really be cool to make your own medium so that you could communicate with the dead, which some consider easier to do than to communicate with Microsoft.
Now, to answer the question you asked about 1200 words ago: Should you make recovery media, repair media or installation media? You should make installation media because you can use installation media to recover your computer – you can boot your computer with it even if the old hard drive’s shot (sorry for the technical term).
You can use the installation media to repair Windows. You can boot your computer with it and access the myriad of troubleshooting tools that come with Windows 10, as well as other recovery options such a System reset and Fresh start. And if all goes south, and nothing else works, you can use Windows installation USB or DVD to reinstall Windows. Yay!
Of course, all tech sites run out of new things to write about because new versions of Windows are “only” released every six months or so. In order to keep writing something you see a myriad of tutorials showing you how to create various recovery media, repair media, and installation media.
(Another aside: Some tech sites have meandered (but not us!) into writing about bird watching, fly fishing, and bowling and other stuff. And by adding sneaky ads for high-tech gadgets like Smart Wi-Fi PrettyWing bird-watching binoculars, Smart Wi-Fi connected trout lures, and computerized bowling gloves, they are no longer constrained to writing about Windows and they make a lot more money. Who wouldn’t like a smart fly fishing rod or some smart binoculars… or yes, Fred, smart bowling gloves?)
And I’ll be honest here. It’s true. Even EB will admit to this… even we, good old TC & EB, can be knaves sometimes. And verily I say unto you, we have also fallen into this trap, but I tells ya right now, we are no longer guilty of this! No! Because one day, it dawned on us, that a good installation USB or DVD does all the stuff that the other media do, and you only need one media – and hopefully not the Long Island Medium – sitting around your house. Why clutter?
What the Heck is all This Media Stuff?
And finally, to make this short story longer, when we say media, we mean USB flash drive or DVD (CD is a media too, but you’ll never fit Windows 10 on it).
One last note: If your computer is old-school it may not be set to boot from a USB flash drive. With a little knowledge and finesse, you can change the boot order in your computer’s BIOS (more correctly UEFI in newer computers) so that your computer will boot from a bootable USB flash drive. But if your computer has a DVD/CD drive (and I tells ya that some do not) then you can be sure that the brains who built your PC have at least enabled boot the boot from CD/DVD option. So, when creating the media of choice, keep this in mind (unless you don’t mind dabbling around in BIOS/UEFI – which is not very difficult, my friends).
The only recovery/repair media you need with Windows 10 is an installation DVD or installation USB flash drive). Then you have repair, recovery and installation medium all right there in your hands – or drawer.
And in Conclusion…
Lo! I tell thee, we have a tutorial on making Windows 10 installation media right here. And yes, with each new version of Windows 10, you should create new installation media. While the old one will work, you would be missing any new repair and troubleshooting tools and features Microsoft may have added. And that’s not to mention that if you had to reinstall Windows 10, having up-to-date installation media would save you a lot of time. If you want know why it would save you a lot of time, just ask 🙂 That answer might be short too!
Hope this helps you Jim and everyone else who has been waiting to read a 1700+ word answer to this question. By-the-way: Congratulations to all you intrepid and pertinacious souls who are still reading this!
We hope this clears things up the media mystery for you too! The magical media tour is waiting to take you away.