If you are running Windows 10, or you are about to upgrade to Windows 10, there is a procedure I recommend you follow. When you acquire a computer with Windows, or perform the free upgrade you are no longer given the DVD media for Windows which you can reload in the event of a major system failure.
To be able to recover Windows, you need to create a backup of the operating system and settings. There is a tool in Windows to do this. If you have more than one computer you must create a recovery drive for each computer, using the process on that computer. You cannot create it once then make a copy.
Firstly you need a memory stick – either a new one or one where the contents can be overwritten. If buying one I recommend 32Gb capacity. For most situations 16Gb should be enough but as the capacity requirement depends to an extent on the specific computer setup, 32Gb guarantees you’ll have enough space. If you already have a spare 16Gb stick you can try it and the system will tell you if it runs out of space.
*** Please note: this memory stick must be dedicated to storing only the Windows 10 recovery information created by following the procedure. Once created label it and put it away somewhere safe. It cannot be used for storing and retrieving your normal files as well.
Creating the Recovery Drive
Go to the Start menu and choose Settings. In the search bar at the top right type the word recovery. From the list of search results choose Create Recovery drive.
From there follow the screen prompts to create your recovery drive. Once complete, label the memory stick so you don’t overwrite it, and keep it in a safe place.
If you ever need to restore your system from scratch, with the computer switched off insert the memory stick. Switch on the computer and follow the instructions.
Note that this procedure does not save your own data – documents, pictures, videos, emails, downloads, music etc. You must take regular back-ups of your critical data as a separate process.