By Emily / Last Updated June 8, 2020

“How do I create a recovery USB for Windows Server 2008 R2?”

Yesterday, my Server 2008 R2 cannot boot up successfully for no reason. I read somewhere that I can make a Windows Server 2008 R2 recovery USB to repair the Server operating system. However, I have no idea on how to do it? Anyone can give a detailed guide? Thanks very much!

- Question from www.quora.com

When need to create Windows Server recovery USB?

From the real user story above, we can know that Windows Server computer might fail to boot from time to time due to various factors such as disk errors, damaged BCD, corrupted MBR, hard drive failure etc. Once that happens, you will need a Windows Server recovery disk to repair your computer and make it work again.

How to create Windows Server 2008 R2 recovery USB?

To make Server 2008 recovery USB, two different tools are available: Windows USB/DVD Tool from Microsoft and AOMEI Partition Assistant Server. Then we will introduce them repesctively.

Method 1. Use Windows USB/DVD Tool to create recovery USB

Windows USB/DVD Download Tool can burn Windows Server ISO to USB drive, and work as an installation disk to enter Windows Server setup environment where you can restore the computer using an earlier system image. So, if you have the original Windows Server 2008R2 installation CD or DVD, you can directly boot computer from it and restore computer OS. If you don't have one, check out steps below:

Before proceeding, you need to do:
1. Prepare an empty USB flash drive and connect it to a working Server computer if the original Server 2008 R2 computer cannot boot;
2. Prepare the Windows Server 2008 R2 ISO files;
3. Download Windows USB/DVD Download Tool onto the working computer with USB flash drive connected. Sometimes, you might also need to download the .NET framework 2.0so to run this tool successfully.

Step 1. Open Windows USB/DVD Download Tool and select (Windows Server 2008) ISO files under "Source file" and click "Next".

Choose Source File

Step 2. Choose media type: USB device or DVD. Here we select "USB device".

Choose Usb Device

Step 3. Now, select the USB drive you have prepared. Then hit on "Begin copying".

Begin Copying

After you have successfully created the Server recovery USB drive, you can plug it into the computer which cannot run Server 2008R2 as normal. Then you can do as below to restore the Windows Server 2008 from a backup on the machine:

Step 1. Boot computer from the recovery USB drive.

Step 2. At the Install Windows screen, select a language, time and keyboard, and click “Next”.

Step 3. Click “Repair your computer”.

Step 4. At the System Recovery Options screen, select “Restore your computer using a system image that you created earlier” and hit on “Next”.

Restore System

Step 5. At the “Select a system image backup” screen, you can choose “Use the latest available system image (recommended) ” or “Select a system image”, and click “Next”.

Choose System Image Backup

Step 6. In the next screen, you can choose to format and repartition the disks. And click on Next.

Step7. Finally you can preview of the selected image and if everything looks right, click “Finish”.

Step 8. Click “Yes” in the pop-out warning message and begin to restore the computer with the selected image.

Begin Restore Server

Besides restoring the Windows Server 2008, you can also press Shift+F10 at the setup screen to open Command Prompt and then fix Server 2008 R2 using Command Prompt.

You should know:
▸This method requires that there must be a system backup image on the machine, that is to say you must have backed up system before the Server 2008 crashes.
▸The recovery drive created by ISO can be used on the corresponding Server version only. Namely, the Windows Server 2008 (R2) recovery disk can only used to restore your Server 2008 (R2).
▸All disks to be restored will be formatted and replaced with the data in the selected system image. So you will lose something important.

Method 2. Apply AOMEI Partition Assistant to create Server 2008 bootable disk

Because of the limitations of the first method, here we bring the second tool-AOMEI Partition Assistant Server. With it, you can create a bootable Windows Server USB drive, which can be used as a recovery disk to repair your Server 2008 operating system in WinPE environment rather than restoring it to an earlier status.

Besides, it is more compatible, working well on Windows Server 2003, 2008 (R2), 2012 (R2), 2016 and 2019. And it is able to rebuild damaged MBR, check hard drive for errors and fix them, helpful for fixing Server boot issues and making them boot successfully again. Now see how to do it in detail:

Part 1. Make a bootable Server USB drive

AOMEI Partition Assistant Server Demo Version is free to download, so you can try it first. Then connect an empty USB drive to a working Server computer (as you do in method 1).

1. Install and run AOMEI Partition Assistant Server on the working Server computer with the empty USB drive connected. Click “Make Bootable Media”.

Make Bootable Media

2. Choose the USB drive you have plugged in and click on “Proceed”.

Usb Boot Device

3. Then wait for the process to be done. Once completed, click “Finish”.

Finish Usb

Note: the created bootable Server USB drive contains the pre-installed AOMEI Partition Assistant Server.

Part 2. Repair Windows Server 2008 with created recovery USB

Now comes the core problem- how to repair Windows Server 2008 R2 with the recovery USB drive.

First of all, you need to remove the bootable USB drive from the working Server computer, and insert into the Server 2008 R2 computer. Secondly, restart it and enter BIOS to select the bootable USB drive as the first boot device. Finally, you can boot computer from the destination disk.

Server Boot Manager

Once you login, the AOMEI Partition Assistant Server will run automatically. Then you can use its “Rebuild MBR” and “Check Partition” features to repair Server OS.

1. Rebuild damaged MBR

(1) Right click the system disk and select “Rebuild MBR”.

Rebuild Mbr For Server

(2) Choose a proper MBR type for the current operating system and click “OK”.

For Vista 2008

(3) Click “Apply” to commit the pending operation.

Apply Rebuild Mbr For Server

2. Check Server partition for errors

(1) Right click the system partition and select “Advanced” and “Check Partition”.

Check Partition

(2) In the next window, choose the first way to both check and fix errors on the system drive and click “OK”.

Check Partition And Fix Errors

(3) Then wait for the program to check the selected partition. If some errors are found, you will receive the pop-out message like below, click “Yes” to fix the found errors.

Fix Errros Ok

After those operations, you can remove the USB drive, return to the Boot Manager where you need to select your main hard drive, and check if your computer can start up now.

Final word

In this guide, we shared two methods to create Windows Server 2008 R2 recovery USB to repair Server operating system. You can choose one based on your actual situation and requirements.

In addition to making recovery USB for Windows Server operating system repair, AOMEI Partition Assistant Server also offers other advanced functions to optimize Server performance, such as cloning Server to SSD, extending Server OS partition without reboot, splitting partition without losing data, etc. Moreover, the Unlimited Edition is specifically designed for larger enterprise environments, allowing usage on an unlimited number of computers within one company.