How To / Windows

How to Create a System Repair Disc in Windows, Why, and How to Use It

  • You can create a System Repair Disc in Windows from a CD ROM, DVD or Blu Ray optical disc so you can recover Windows when it fails to start.
  • Using a System Repair Disc you can restore Windows from a System Restore Point or System Image.
  • A Windows Repair Disc cannot be used to reinstall or reset Windows.
cd rom dvd rom optical disc

Optical discs are long dead. My last three computers didn’t have a CD, DVD, or Blu-Ray drive and most laptops sold today don’t come with one. That doesn’t mean there’s no support for optical discs in Windows 11, so we’re quite a long way until we can call them extinct.

One reason to use an optical disc, albeit a pretty poor one, it’s to create a system repair disc. Let’s see what it does, why you would use one, and what’s the better alternative.

What is a Windows Repair Disc?

A Windows Repair Disc, also known as a System Repair Disc, is a bootable optical disc that contains the files needed to launch the Windows Recovery Environment. Windows RE is used to troubleshoot and diagnose a Windows installation when the computer it fails to start normally.

How to Create a Windows Repair Disc


  • CD/DVD/Blu-ray writer – internal (SATA) or external (USB)
  • A blank optical disc

It’s super easy to create a new System Repair Disc using the utility included in Windows:

1. Open the Start menu and search for Control Panel to open.

2. Navigate to the System and Security section.

windows control panel system and security

3. Now select the Backup and Restore (Windows 7) section.

control panel backup and restore

4. On the left side column find and click on the Createa a system repair disc link.

backup and restore create a system repair disc

5. If there’s no optical drive attached to your computer you’ll see this message.

system repair disc could not be created

6. If more than one optical drives are connected you will have to pick the correct one from the drop down list. Then proceed to contine by clicking on Create disc.

windows backup and restore create repair disc

7. The utility will start writing the required data to your optical disc. Despite the fact the repair image is only a couple hundred megabytes it will take a few minutes to complete.

creating system repair disc

8. When the disc is ready you’ll see this message. You should use a marker to label the disc accordingly.

using the system repair disc

FAQ: If you’re wondering if you can use a System Repair Disk on another computer the answer is yes: the disk will work on another Windows machine, preferably with the same version of Windows.

How to Use a System Repair Disc to Troubleshoot Windows

Now, let’s say disaster strikes and Windows doesn’t load, the Recovery Environment doesn’t start automatically, and you don’t have a recovery drive handy.

1. If all these happen to you pull out the System Repair Disc, insert the disc into your optical unit, start the computer and keep pressing F8 to launch the boot manager.

boot manager cdrom drive

2. From the list of available devices select th CD ROM option and press any key to confirm you wish to boot from the optical drive.

Install Windows 11 press any key to boot

3. Wait a few minutes for the Recovery Environment to start. The first step is to select the keyboard languge.

recovery drive select keyboard

4. Now you can start troubleshooting Windows with these tools (they’re under the Troubleshoot menu):

  • Startup repair
  • Command prompt
  • Uninstall updates
  • Go straight to BIOS/UEFI
  • System Restore
  • System Image Recovery

In addition, you can try (1) booting Windows again, (2) turning off the PC or (3) use a different device to boot from.

repair disc troubleshooting tools

Note: the tools included on the Recovery Environment from a System Repair Disc are a bit limited. There is no option to reset Windows or recover from Drive, as you can find on the RE that starts from a Recovery Drive (it’s optional during creation) or the version of RE that’s included on the computer drive when you install Windows.

My personal opinion is that you should use a Recovery Drive anytime you can, instead of a System Repair Disc. It’s more convenient, since you can rewrite that USB drive many many times, plus it’s a lot faster.

There are really no advantages to using a Windows Repair disc, considering the version of Recovery Environment included is the most restrictive of all the options available to you.

Also, even old computers which include a CD ROM optical drive come with USB ports, so not even compatibility can save Repair discs.

Avatar for Ionuț-Alexandru Popa
I'm a writer and Editor-in-Chief at BinaryFork. I am passionate about technology, science, space exploration, and movies. I started writing about tech more than 20 years ago, after graduating in Computer Science.
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