How to Boot a Computer from a USB Flash Drive and Recover Data After a Windows OS Crash

In this article we will look at how to start up a computer from a bootable USB flash drive and recover lost data.

Operating system crash is a common situation that the vast majority of users have encountered. It can manifest itself as a minor error when opening a file, and cause fatal problems in the form of a complete failure when Windows stops running. But what if there is valuable data on the PC? Do not panic! Any error is subject to correction and recovery.

How to Boot a Computer from a USB Flash Drive

Creating a bootable Windows image. File recovery

Before proceeding directly to files recovery, you need to create a “machine”, which, in turn, will allow you to temporarily reanimate the operating system. To do this, we need the free application AOMEI PE Builder and Starus Partition Recovery program.

Let’s look at the process in detail.

1. Launch AOMEI PE Builder and click Next button.

AOMEI PE Builder

2. Specify the bit depth, depending on the programs you will use. In most cases, the default choice is 32 bits.

Bit version

3. You can either check the main system programs, which will allow you to fully work with the operating system, and add your own applications by clicking Add Files.

Select programs

4. Find and select Starus Partition Recovery application.


5. Click OK button.

My Tools

6. Click Next button.

Installing portable versions

7. Select the device where you want to save the Windows image with the necessary programs – for example, your USB flash drive.

Selecting a device

8. Wait until the image creation process is complete.

Windows image

It is done!

Now you need only to connect the bootable media to the PC with damaged Windows and run it. Remember that drive letters may not correspond to those familiar to you. Therefore, you may have to study them all and only then proceed to recovery.

How to recover the necessary files?

1. Launch the Starus Partition Recovery application.

Top of the line product to repair broken partitions and recover missing information

2. Open the recovery wizard and select the disk you want to scan.

Starus Partition Recovery

3. Select the type of scan. We strongly recommend using the full analysis. Its advantage is in the possibility of low-level scanning, which allows you to study each individual sector of the HDD. This allows you to recover bit by bit even the most damaged file.

Selecting Scan Type

4. Examine the files using the convenient preview function and restore everything you need as follows: select the documents you need, right-click on any of them, and click Restore button.

Selecting  files to recover

It is done! Now your files are completely safe.

Do not save the documents on the same disk from which you restore them. This can lead to a process of overwriting data and permanent file loss.

System Recovery

The easiest way to recover full Windows functionality is to use the command line. For this we need the official package ADK, which can easily be downloaded from the Microsoft website.

Official package Windows ADK

Run the program and follow the instructions below:

1. Check the box next to the Deployment Tools parameter.

Deployment Tools

2. Complete the installation.

Completing the installation

3. Open the Start > menu in the dialog box, enter the Deployment and Image Tools environment > run the application as an administrator.

Tools environment

4. In the window that opens, enter:
For x32 system: C:\WinPE_x86
For x64 system: C:\WinPE_amd64


Now you need to enter the following:
For x32 system: MakeWinPEMedia /ISO C:\WinPE_x86 C:\WinPE_x86\WinPE_x86.iso
For x64 system: MakeWinPEMedia /ISO C:\WinPE_amd64 C:\WinPE_amd64\WinPE_amd64.iso

Command line

It is done! After restarting the computer, the operating system should return to its full functioning.

We hope the article was useful for you and helped to find answers to the questions posed.

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Recover Deleted Files and Repair Corrupted Partitions

Recover Deleted Files and Repair Corrupted Partitions

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Ruslan Yermolov

Ruslan Yermolov

Data recovery expert - providing practical advice on how to use simple tools to solve complex data recovery and data protection problems on today's storage devices. Education - Manager Economist, and since 2010 the creator of Starus Recovery, developer of the eponymous website, which provides users with a wide range of software for digital information recovery.

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Read Our Frequent Questions

To do this, you need to use the Starus Partition Recovery program on another computer by connecting the media with the lost data to this computer. Or you can use another computer to make a bootable USB flash drive with the WinPE environment and the Starus Partition Recovery program. And start the computer from such a flash drive.

To do this, you need to write the WinPE environment with the portable Starus Partition Recovery to a USB flash drive using the AOMEI PE Builder program. As shown in this article.

Unfortunately, there is no ready-made LiveDisk (Live CD) with Starus Partition Recovery. But it is very easy to create it with AOMEI PE Builder as shown in this article. At the same time, AOMEI PE Builder is a free program.

Comments (2)

  • Starus Recovery
    Starus Recovery 15.10.2019 12:48

    If you want to add something on the topic or want to share your computer startup from a bootable USB flash drive experience please leave a comment!

  • Hans Wishart
    Hans Wishart 18.03.2022 22:27

    Hi colleagues, nice paragraph and pleasant arguments commented here, I am really enjoying by these.

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