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How to create a recovery drive in Windows 10 and Windows 11

Computer problems happen when you least expect them. But having the software to repair your computer is essential. So here is how to create a recovery drive in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

How to create a recovery drive in Windows 10 and Windows 11

So what is a recovery drive? It is a bootable USB drive with all the system tools that normally appear in the advanced options menu. This is the menu that appears when your computer fails to boot correctly.

If you have not heard of a recovery drive, you are not alone. A good majority of Windows users do not know about this great device. Sadly, most learn about having a recovery drive only after their system has experienced a problem.

Now it is easy to confuse a recovery drive with a system repair disk, as they perform the same functions. But with a recovery drive, you can also reinstall Windows if you need to.
The recover from a drive option in the recovery drive boot menu
System repair disks have been around for decades, but recovery disks first appeared in Windows 8.

What is the difference between a recovery drive and a system repair disk? Essentially they are the same; the only difference is the media you use to create them. A recovery drive uses a USB drive, and a system repair disk uses, as the name implies, a CD / DVD. And with more computers coming without optical (CD/DVD/BD) drives, most people can only use a recovery drive.

The list of options is the same as if your computer did not boot correctly and you got the advanced options screen. Startup Repair, Command Prompt, Uninstall Updates, UEFI Firmware Settings, System Restore, and System Image Recovery.

How to open Recovery Drive inside of Windows 10

  1. Left-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Windows Accessories.
  3. Double left-click on Recovery Drive.

or

  1. Using the search box on the right side of the Start Windows logo button, type in Recovery Drive,
  2. Left-click on it in the search results.

How to open Recovery Drive inside of Windows 11

  1. Left-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the Start menu, left-click on All apps.
  3. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Windows Tools.
  4. Double left-click on Recovery Drive.

or

  1. Left-click on the magnifying glass to the right of the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Search dialog box.
  2. In the Search dialog box, type Recovery Drive.
  3. In the list of results, Recovery Drive should be highlighted.
  4. Left-click on Recovery Drive.

How to create a recovery drive

The requirements for creating a recovery disk are pretty simple, a USB drive that is 16GB or larger. I would recommend 32GB just to be on the safe side. Note: The USB drive you use for the recovery drive will be erased and reformatted when you create it. Please copy or move anything on the drive you want to keep before creating the recovery drive.

I would also like to mention that the time it takes to create a recovery drive that includes system files can be long. It may take a few hours, so be prepared to allow your computer the time it needs to complete the creation of the recovery drive.

The first screen that appears when you open the Recovery Drive app is where you decide whether or not to include a backup copy of Windows.
Create a recovery drive screen in the Recovery Drive program
Since you would likely only be using this drive if your computer will not function properly, I recommend including the systems files in the recovery drive.

If you decide to include the system files, you will need to update the recovery drive periodically. I would update every six to twelve months; that way, if you do need to reinstall Windows from the recovery drive, it will be as current as the last time you updated the recovery drive.

The next screen asks you what drive you want to use for the recovery drive.
Select the USB drive screen in the Recovery Drive program
Select the drive and click on Next. One final warning screen appears.
Create a recovery drive warning screen in the Recovery Drive program
Just click on Create. Now just read some email or social posts because this will take some time. Once the recovery drive has been created, remove it and put it in a safe place.

How to fix no sound in Windows 10 and Windows 11

Did you just notice that you do not have any sound in Windows 10 or Windows 11? Not getting any audible notices when you receive a new email or delete a file? Here are 4 things you can do to fix no sound in Windows 10 or Windows 11.

How to fix no sound in Windows 10 and Windows 11

Losing the audio from your Windows-based computer can be really frustrating. One minute you hear a video playing in your browser, and the next minute you hear nothing. This problem is more common than you think. So here are 4 things you do to restore the sound in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

Check to see if the default audio device has been muted

The most common problem I have seen is the default audio device gets accidentally muted. I have gone on several service calls for no audio, only to find the volume has been muted. A quick check can save you time and money.

How to check if the default audio device has been muted in Windows 10 and Windows 11

  1. Left-click on the speaker icon on the right-hand side of the Taskbar.
    Umute the audio device in Windows
  2. In the popup that appears, look at the speaker icon on the left side of the volume slider.
  3. If there is an X to the right of the speaker icon, left-click on the speaker icon to unmute the device.

Check the default audio device

This is the most common issue regarding the loss of sound in Windows. With more computers coming with a built-in sound card and graphic cards with HDMI and Display Port (DP) connections, you have to make sure you are using the correct device for audio.

If you connect your monitor to your computer using an HDMI or DP connection, you must ensure your monitor has speakers to playback audio. If your monitor does not have speakers built-in, you need speakers or headphones to hear the audio.

How to check the default audio device in Windows 10 in Windows 11

  1. Left-click on the speaker icon on the right-hand side of the Taskbar.
    Select the default audio device in Windows
  2. Left-click on the audio device you want to use for sound.
  3. Move the volume slider left and right to hear a sample tone. If you do not hear the sample tone, select a different device and try moving the volume slider again. You have found the correct audio device when you hear the sample tone.

Run the audio troubleshooter

The Playing Audio troubleshooter is simple to use and can be extremely helpful when you are in a hurry. Once you select the device to test, the troubleshooter scans for any issues and offers recommendations on what you might try to restore your computer's audio.

How to run the audio troubleshooter in Windows 10 and Windows 11

  1. Right-click on the speaker icon on the right-hand side of the Taskbar.
    Playing audio troubleshooter
  2. Left-click on Troubleshoot sound problems.

Remove and reinstall the driver for your audio device

If you have tried all of the previous solutions, this will usually fix 99% of the problems with your computer's audio issues. There are two (2) different ways to remove and reinstall the drivers for your audio device.

The first way is to use the existing driver already installed in the Windows driver catalog. Often, the audio device configuration gets corrupted, and simply removing and reinstalling the driver with the device defaults will work to resolve sound problems.

The second way is to download a new driver package from the manufacturer's website. Most computers nowadays have sound cards built into the motherboard, but there are times when the user needs a more advanced sound card. That is when you find a separate sound card may have been installed.

Either way, you will need to find the make and model of your motherboard or sound card and go over to their website, and download the latest driver package. Here is how to remove and reinstall the drivers for your audio device.

How to remove and reinstall the driver for your audio device in Windows 10 and Windows 11

To remove the existing driver for any device inside Windows, you need to get to Device Manager. There are a couple of different ways to get to Device Manager, the first way is through the Start Menu, and the second way is using the Power User menu.

How to bring up the Device Manager in Windows 10

  1. Left-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. Scroll down the list of apps and left-click on Windows Administrative Tools to expand the folder.
  3. Left-click on Computer Management.
  4. Under Computer Management (Local), left-click on Device Manager.

or

  1. Right-click on the Start button on bring up the Power User menu.
  2. From the context menu that appears, left-click on Device Manager.

How to bring up the Device Manager in Windows 11

  1. Left-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the Start menu, left-click on All apps.
  3. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Windows Tools.
  4. Left-click on Computer Management.
  5. Under Commuter Management (Local), left-click on Device Manager.

or

  1. Right-click on the Start button Windows logo on bring up the Power User menu.
  2. From the context menu that appears, left-click on Device Manager.

Once you have Device Manager open, scroll down the list of devices until you get to Sound, video and game controllers. Double left-click on the Sound, video, and game controllers category to expand it.

Device manager open to sound devices

Find the audio device in the list that appears that you want to remove and reinstall. Right-click on that device and select Uninstall device from the context menu that appears. A dialog box will appear, warning you about uninstalling the device.

Make sure you check the box next to Delete the driver software for this device and then left-click Uninstall.
Uninstall sound device in Device Manager
Then restart your computer. Once your computer restarts, Windows will automatically reinstall the driver with the factory defaults. You should now have audio.

If you still do not have any sound, install the latest software package from the manufacturer's website. Once done, restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

How to enable automatic registry backups in Windows 10 and Windows 11

When it comes to repairing Windows-based computers, the one thing that will positively stop Windows from starting up is a corrupt registry. Having a backup of the registry is essential for quickly getting a system back up and running. So here is how to enable automatic registry backups in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

How to enable automatic registry backups in Windows 10 and Windows 11

In previous versions of Windows, the operating system would automatically backup the registry. In fact, Windows did automatically back up the registry until Windows 10 version 1803.

With Windows 10 version 1803, Microsoft disabled the automatic registry backup to help reduce the overall footprint of Windows. Microsoft would prefer you to use the System Restore feature.

But considering that Windows 10 and Windows 11 can take up to 40GB or more of disk space, the folder that contains the registry backup (Windows\System32\config\RegBack) only takes up roughly 100MB or so of disk space. I do not see a problem with having a backup of the registry.

Now over the past couple of years, I have seen an increase in Windows computers that do not have System Protection enabled. System Protection is the feature that creates and manages the System Restore feature.

So when I get a computer in the shop with a corrupted registry, and there are no System Restore points, then the only thing I can do is reformat the drive and reinstall Windows. But you can re-enable the automatic registry backup with a simple registry edit.

Note: If you are not comfortable editing the registry, don't hesitate to contact a local computer technician to assist you.

From my experience, getting the registry backups going again is a two-step process. First, you create the registry key and restart your computer to take effect. Then you run the built-in task inside of Task Scheduler. Let's start with the registry editor.

How to open the Registry Editor in Windows 10 / Windows 11

  1. Open the Registry Editor by either
  2. Navigate to HKLM (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE) > System > CurrentControlSet > Control > Session Manager > Configuration Manager
    Registry Editor open to Configuration Manager entry
  3. In the left-hand column, right-click on Configuration Manager and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
    Creating the new DWORD value EnablePeriodicBackup
  4. Name the new DWORD value EnablePeriodicBackup.
    Registry Editor open to EnablePeriodicBackup value
  5. Right-click on the EnablePeriodicBackup value and select Modify.
    Modifying the EnablePeriodicBackup value
  6. Change the Value data from 0 to 1 and left-click on OK.
    Changing the default EnablePeriodicBackup value from 0 to 1
  7. Restart your computer.

Using File Explorer, navigate to the Windows\System32\config\RegBack folder and see if the registry files are backed up. If you encounter a couple of dialog boxes that tell you that you do not have permission to access this folder, left-click on Continue.

You should see five (5) files in this folder; DEFAULT, SAM, SECURITY, SOFTWARE, and SYSTEM. And more than likely, they will be only 0KB in size. If that is the case, we will need to run the task that backups the registry.

Now we need to run the built-in task RegIdleBackup to get the Windows to start backing up the registry. Once you run the RegIdleBackup task, you should restart your computer again to get it fully functional.

How to open the Task Scheduler in Windows 10 / Windows 11

  1. Open the Task Scheduler by either
  2. When Task Scheduler appears, navigate down the left-hand column to Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Windows > Registry.
    The RegIdleBackup task inside of Task Manager
  3. In the center column, highlight the RegIdleBackup task and select Run in the right-hand column.
  4. Restart your computer.

Windows will now be backing up the registry regularly, usually every ten (10) days. Now that you enabled automatic registry backups let's check and see if they are working.

Let's use File Explorer again to navigate to the Windows\System32\config\RegBack folder and see if the registry files have increased in size. You should now see they are no longer 0KB.

Clean up your Windows 10 computer using the Storage feature

Have you ever gotten a low disk space warning on your Windows 10 computer? Do you wish you could quickly and easily clean up the unwanted temporary files and the recycle bin? If so, look no further than the Storage feature inside of Windows 10.

Clean up your Windows 10 computer using the Storage options

For years now, I have been using the Disk Cleanup program inside of each version of Windows. It has been an easy way to clean up the junk (temporary files, Internet cache, recycle bin, etc.) that can build up in Windows.

But finding the Disk Cleanup program to run it can be a little tricky. There are multiple ways to run it when you find it, which can get confusing for a novice computer user.

Thankfully, Microsoft has integrated most of the functionality of Disk Cleanup into the Storage feature inside the Windows 10 Settings program. And getting to the Storage feature could not be any easier.

The Storage feature inside of Windows 10 Settings

How to get to Storage feature in Windows 10

  1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo menu and left-click on the Gear (Settings) icon. It should be the second icon up from the bottom.
  2. Left-click on the System category
  3. In the left-hand column, left-click on Storage. All of the storage options will appear in the right-hand column.

Note: All files removed using the Storage feature are permanently deleted, so be careful what files you choose to delete. Remember that once you delete a file, it is gone for good.

There are two (2) sections under the Storage area. The first is Storage Sense, with only a slider switch to turn it on or off and a button to bring up the configuration page.

Introduced in Windows 10 version 1809, Storage Sense is a simple 'Set and Forget' utility that can automatically clean out files you do not need anymore, like files in your Downloads folder and the recycle bin.

Storage Sense can automatically clean out a user's Downloads folder and recycle bin on a preset schedule. You can set it up to run automatically every day, every week, every month, or only when you start to run out of free disk space. You can also run it manually whenever you need to free up some disk space quickly.

The second section is part of the Storage Reserve. Storage Reserve allocates space to facilitate proper performance and successful updates to Windows 10. This section lists the drives currently attached to your computer and how that storage is being distributed. That includes all fixed or removable HDDs, SSDs, and USB external drives.

Every drive has a status bar that shows the used / free space. Below the drive status bar, you will find the categories of different types of files that can be safely deleted. You may have to click on the 'Show more categories' button to view all available categories.

The list of categories is pretty extensive, so it may take some time to go through each one. The categories range from system & reserved, apps & features, and all of the special folders (Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos).

Each category has also has a status bar that shows how much space those particular files are taking up. When you click on a category listed under a drive, you will be taken to another page with more options for that category.

Now when you click on the Temporary files category, you will be presented with a selection of options of which files you want to clean up. These are similar to the categories used in Disk Cleanup.

Remember that the majority of the items listed under Temporary files can be safely deleted. You may not want to remove all the files you have in your Downloads folder, so you might think about cleaning that folder up manually with File Explorer.

Also, if you choose the Windows Update Cleanup option, the clean-up process will happen the next time you reboot your computer. So be prepared for a longer boot time the next time you restart your computer.

Get better search results by setting your precise location in Windows 10

Have you ever used your favorite browser to search for a business close to you, only to have it return a list of business miles away from you? If so, then you may want to set your precise location in Windows 10.

Get better search results by setting your precise location in Windows 10

Usually, Windows 10 can get close to your relative location using a combination of various sources. These include the IP address your ISP (Internet Service Provider) provides, GPS (Global Positioning Service), wireless access points, and cell towers.

Despite all of these resources, there will be times when Windows 10 cannot determine your exact location. That is when you will need to set your precise location manually.

Setting your location manually can also help in planning business and personal trips, like vacations. For example, you can manually set your location to the address of a hotel you will be staying at and find restaurants close to that location.

Now you have to remember that Windows 10 has two (2) different types of programs, UWP (Universal Windows Platform) and Desktop, and they both have different ways of determining location.

UWP apps will typically ask for permission to access your location. These are the programs that use GPS and wireless access points to triangulate your location. You will find them listed in the Choose which apps can access your precise location section of the Location category of Windows Settings.

Desktop apps do not ask for permission to access your location and do not appear in the allowed access list. These programs include all of your browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, etc.

And since the majority of searches are performed using a web browser, setting your location manually will be the only way to get precise search results for your location.

How to manually set your location in Windows 10

  1. Open Windows Settings by either:
    • Left-click on the Start Windows logo key button and then left-click on the gear icon (Settings).
    • or
    • Right-click on the Start Windows logo key button and then left-click on Settings from the Power User menu.
  2. Left-click on Privacy.
    Default view of the Windows 10 Settings app with the Privacy category outlined
  3. Scroll down the left-hand column and left-click on Location.
    The Location section inside of the Windows 10 Settings
  4. Scroll down the right-hand column until you find Allow desktop apps to access your location and make sure it is switched on.
    Allow desktop apps to access your location switch inside of the Windows 10 Settings
  5. Scroll back up the right-hand column and left-click on the Set default button under Default location. The Windows Maps program will then open.
    Set default location button inside of the Windows 10 Settings
  6. In Windows Maps, left-click on the Set default location button.
    Set default location button inside of the Windows Maps
  7. Type in the address you want to use as your location. Windows Maps will display a list of addresses that it feels are a match.
    The default location form inside of the Windows Maps
  8. Left-click on the correct address.
    Select default location inside of the Windows Maps
  9. Close Maps and Settings, and you will be all set.

If you are using a laptop and your location changes regularly, you can always go back into the Windows 10 Settings and modify it as needed.

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