The Re-Fresh Prince of Bellaire

Now enter the following command:

recimg -CreateImage \RefreshImage . Replace the variable with the drive where you want to store the image. For example, recimg -CreateImage C:\RefreshImage stores the image on system drive, in new folder named RefreshImage.

Press ENTER key to run the command

So Microsoft has this new feature that they started with Windows 8.0 (stop the groaning) and have continued to use in 8.1. It’s a cool concept, but has some limitations. It’s called “Refresh your PC”. It’s designed to allow standard users to take their machines back to a “I just starting my computer for the first time” state with or without loosing your data (you have the two options).

Now this is great except I get tired of reinstalling my apps (again your data doesn’t get wacked). Man, I wish there was a way to create my own “refresh image” that has my computer setup with all my apps pre-installed. Well guess what, you can.

Before creating the custom recovery image

You can store the image on system drive (the drive where Windows is installed), another hard drive, on an external drive (hard drive or USB stick with sufficient free disk space) or Storage Spaces (my recommendation).

Of course, the two latter ones are much safer choices, especially in case hard drive in your PC dies or the computer is stolen.

If you choose the external drive or Storage Spaces option, the external drive(s) must be connected before using the Refresh your PC feature.

  1. Install all programs and apps you need and uninstall the ones you do not want. If you've been using your PC for a longer time, it is probably set up the way you want already.
    1. If you want to store the image on external drive, open File Explorer (previously known as "Windows Explorer", keyboard shortcut WINDOWS KEY+E) and check the drive letter - it could be D:, E:, F:, G: and so on. Remember the drive letter.
    2. You must have administrator rights to perform the following steps.
Creating a custom recovery image using recimg.exe in Windows 8 and 8.1
  1. Launch elevated Command Prompt - open Start screen and type "cmd" to run Apps search/Search everywhere. Either right-click Command Prompt and click Run as administrator in App bar, or hold down CTRL and SHIFT keys while clicking Command Prompt.

  2. Alternatively, use keyboard shortcut WINDOWS KEY+X to bring up the Quick Links menu (a list of system tools) and click Command Prompt (Admin). Please note that in Windows 8.1, Command Prompt items are replaced with PowerShell items instead.

  3. Now enter the following command: recimg -CreateImage \RefreshImage . Replace the variable with the drive where you want to store the image. For example, recimg -CreateImage C:\RefreshImage stores the image on system drive, in new folder named RefreshImage.

Press ENTER key to run the command

The process will take some time, depending on the number of installed programs and apps - up to an hour is completely normal. Please note that the writing image process might get stuck at 1% for about 30-45 minutes, this is expected behavior.

After it’s completed, you’ll want to check to make sure that your computer is now pointing to your custom refresh image…simply type “recimg /showcurrent”. It should list the drive and partition that you saved your image to.

And that’s how it’s done. I personally saved a copy of my image on a second drive (portable USB drive) for one of those “oh, crap” moments.

I’m OUT! ;-)