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Issue #476: September 4–10, 2016

Q: Yesterday I upgraded my third (and last) computer (2 laptops and a desktop) to Windows 10. I had a little problem that lasted about 24 hours and then went away. The problem was that after it had initially worked, I could not left click the windows icon nor on Cortana. This afternoon this went away and all worked OK again.

 This all got me to thinking. In the past we usually got our operating software on a disk and still had that disk when anything happened and we needed to reload. Lately when we buy a computer with the software already loaded we get instructions of how to make a backup set of disks. We also had a key code to prove we owned the right to use that software.

With this Windows 10 upgrade we have nothing. Just downloaded software. What if the hard drive (or solid state in two of the computers) fails and I need to reload Windows 10? How do I prove that I have the right to use it on this computer? And, how do I actually go about downloading Windows 10 a second or subsequent time?

 Many thanks for all of the great information that you provide in your column.

– George C.
Shalimar, Florida

A:  Thanks for the thanks, George.  Always nice to hear one’s efforts are appreciated.

Microsoft hasn’t left you as high-and-dry as you think with Windows 10.  Very nearly all of the upgrades that were performed from prior versions of Windows to Win 10 were done via Windows Update, with no physical media involved except for your system’s own hard drive.  Microsoft is well-aware of users’ future need for recovery and repair media, and they have provided two basic paths for you.  By taking one path, you can essentially create the kind of installation media that you might have gotten if you’d purchased Windows 10 in a box at a retail store.  On the other path, you can take advantage of a feature that has been hanging around since Windows 7 that gives you the ability to create your own recovery/repair disk to a USB stick.

To create installation media, go to Microsoft’s Windows 10 download page at and click on “Download tool now” to download the download tool (now).  When the download completes, run it and choose “Create installation media for another PC”, then click “Next”.  Choose all the particulars of the installation media you want to create (make it match your target PC) and click “Next” again.  You’ll be presented with an option to build your media to a USB stick or an .iso file.  The choice is yours, so you’ll need to either dedicate a USB stick of 6 Gigs or more to this, or know (read: learn) how to use .iso files.  Assuming you choose the USB option, insert your flash drive, select it from the list, and click “Next”.  The actual download time will vary depending on your internet connection speed, but can take as long as a couple of hours to complete.  When it’s done, you can use the stick to (re)install Windows 10 on any computer, so long as you have a valid license key.  (Hint: Your Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 license keys are valid for Windows 10.)

If you’d rather create a recovery drive than a full-on installation disc, go to the taskbar’s search box and type “Create a recovery drive” then select it from the results.  You may be asked for an administrator password.  From within the tool, select “Back up system files to the recovery drive” and select “Next”.  Connect a USB stick to your PC, select it, and select “Next->Create”, then wait for all the files to copy.  I’m out of room for this edition.  I’ll address the other question you sent me next week.

2 Responses to “Issue #476: September 4–10, 2016”

  • GEORGEC22 says:

    Good morning. Your site has a number of small adds for software downloads. Are these just “freeloaders bootlegging” or are they adds of which you approve?
    . Not necessarily recommend but allow to post.

    Much appreciate the thorough answer to my question.

    • The Geek says:

      Hi George –

      It is I who should be thanking YOU for posting good questions for me to use! I get a lot of stuff where people either don’t provide nearly enough information, or they go on and on and on, describing every aspect of a problem to the point where just publishing their question would use up the entire column space.

      As far as the ads, my website, like so much of the “free” content online, is ad-supported. I get a VERY small amount of change from each ad-click. When totaled up at the end of the year, it’s not even enough to pay the cost of the web hosting, but it takes some of the cost from me. As for the ad content, I have very little control over what ads are displayed. I use Google Ad Services, and it examines the contents of the page, and selects ads that it thinks would be of interest to anyone reading the page in question. Hope this helped!


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