FIX: Insert your Windows installation or recovery media error

Aleksandar Ognjanovic
by Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Troubleshooting Expert
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  • If you tried resetting Windows 10, you might have encountered the Insert your Windows installation or recovery media error. We can fix that. Read the article below.
  • How to create a bootable drive? Check out our step by step guide on how to create a USB boot drive.
  • This problem doesn't occur too often but it you have any other problems with Windows recovery, please read our Windows Recovery articles.
  • If you experienced any other Windows 10 errors we've got you covered. Check out our Windows 10 errors hub.
Fix the Insert your windows installation or recovery media windows 10 error

Recovery options are there so you don’t have to turn to a clean reinstallation any time the system shows critical signs. That’s one of the best things about Windows 10.

However, what happens when even the recovery option is giving you a hard time?

Some users who, for particular reasons, tried resetting Windows 10, have had difficulties. The re-appearing error is Insert your Windows installation or recovery media.

If you’re in this group and the error is reoccurring after multiple tries to reset Windows 10, make sure to try out the solutions we provided below.

After that, you should, hopefully, resolve the issue at hand.

  1. Run SFC and DISM
  2. Run “Reset this PC” from a recovery menu
  3. Use bootable media as a source
  4. Install Windows 10 clean

How can I fix Insert your Windows installation or recovery media error?

1: Run SFC and DISM

First things first. When even the recovery options won’t work as intended, we can say with certainty that the grave problem is at hand.

Resetting PC to factory settings shouldn’t require any external installation media or something similar.

It’s a built-in part of the system which utilizes system resources to refresh everything.

However, due to system corruption, it’s not unusual for errors like this to occur.

Either viruses or something else deleted some of the essentials files, the recovery option will lack resources needed to restore your PC to factory values.

Because of that, we recommend running System File Checker and DISM, respectively. These two utilities are built into the system and run through the elevated command line.

Here’s how to run SFC:

  1. In the Windows Search bar, type cmd.
  2. Right-click on Command Prompt and run it as an administrator.
  3. In the command-line, type sfc/scannow and press Enter.insert your windows installation or recovery media windows 10

And this is how to run Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool:

  1. Open Command Prompt as an administrator.
  2. In the command line, type the following commands and press Enter after each:
    • DISM /online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
    • DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealthinsert your windows installation or recovery media windows 10
  3. The procedure should take some time.

2: Run Reset this PC from a recovery menu

This might be a long shot, but there’s a chance that Reset this PC run through the Windows 10 interface won’t work.

Instead, you can access the Advanced Recovery menu and try restoring your PC from there.

In addition, since it’s hard to simulate this error, we can only assume that certain users were, afterward, unable to boot in Windows 10.

For that reason, we recommend trying this solution. Here’s how to access the Advanced Recovery menu:

  1. Reboot your PC 3 times in sequence until the Advanced Recovery menu appears.
  2. Choose Troubleshoot.
  3. Click on Reset this PC.
  4. Choose to keep your files and continue with the procedure.

3: Use bootable media as a source

If you’re still unable to perform a reset with the aforementioned approach, there’s another alternative.

If the procedure is unable to take resources from the system itself, maybe it will from the external media.

Even though it’s time-consuming, creating a bootable drive with Media Creation Tool is rather simple.

After you’ve done that, follow these instructions to reset Windows 10:

  1. Insert the installation drive.
  2. Open File Explorer and then the media drive.
  3. Double-click on Setup.exe to run it.
  4. Follow the instructions and make sure to keep all your files and settings.

4: Install Windows 10 clean

Finally, if none of the solutions were useful, the only thing you can do is reinstall Windows 10 from scratch.

Of course, if there’s a way to back up your data, you should do it before formatting the system partition. That’s why backing up your data on a regular basis is of utmost importance.

Otherwise, you’ll get yourself in a scenario where a large chunk of your data is threatened.

If you’re not sure how to reinstall Windows 10 from a scratch, follow the instructions we provided in this article.

Finally, if even there you get stopped but this or similar error, we recommend checking the HDD health. Also, make sure that the drive isn’t locked.

That should do it. In case you have any questions or suggestions concerning the Insert your windows installation or recovery media error, we encourage you to share them.

You can do so in the comments section below.

FAQ: Read more about Windows Recovery

  • How do I insert my Windows installation or recovery media?

The system wants you to insert a bootable DVD or USB or a recovery DVD or USB if you created one before. Access BIOS and select that media as the primary source for booting. If you can’t access BIOS, here’s an excellent guide to help you.

  • How do I add recovery media in Windows 10?

You need to use the Create a recovery drive feature from Control Panel. Follow the on-screen instructions to create the recovery media. If you have problems creating the recovery drive, we have an expert guide to help you fix that.

  • What is create recovery media?
Windows 10 lets you create a recovery drive or system repair disc that you can use to restore your computer. If your computer requests that you insert a recovery media, follow our step-by-step guide to fix that

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in March 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in May 2018 and was revamped and updated in July 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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