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I am planning to repair install my desktop with Windows 8.1. But the problem is that I think my optical drive has stopped working all together. So I was wondering if it is possible to repair install from an USB.

The problem I am most concerned about is that will the OS find the USB on reboot and is it intelligent enough to continue the installation from there.

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  • You can’t “repair” install any Windows operating system from a boot disc. Repair installs are started by running setup.exe from within Windows. If Windows won’t boot, then your only option will be to do a clean install by booting from CD or USB, like you have suggested. – Appleoddity Mar 14 '19 at 14:10
  • @Appleoddity - The author could simply launch the setup contained on the removable drive from within Windows. However, that isn't necessary, since Windows 8.1 has the Refresh or Reset feature. In other words, the repair install can be done without any Windows 8.1 installation media. – Ramhound Mar 14 '19 at 14:29
  • @Appleoddity, I believe you are mistaken about being able to repair from install media. Once you complete the initial screen where you pick language, time and keyboard, to get to the "Install Now" screen, there is a "Repair your computer" click in the lower left corner – infixed Mar 14 '19 at 14:37
  • @infixed that is not a repair install. That is for options such as system restore, command prompt, etc. – Appleoddity Mar 14 '19 at 14:37
  • @Appleoddity, isn't "Repair your computer" --> "Troubleshoot" -> "Refresh your PC" what OP is trying to do? – infixed Mar 14 '19 at 14:46
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Much will depend on whether you can find an ISO file of the install disk for the version of Windows 8 you are running.

There are probably other methods, but I have used a Windows Install ISO as the input to the Rufus utility.

Once you get a bootable USB, you can boot it, select the Language, Timezone and Keyboard at the first screen.

Then you'll get to a screen with "Install Now" at the center.

In the lower left corner of that screen is a clickable item that says "Repair your computer"

Click that to get to the repair menu.

But it really depends on you finding the correct ISO file.

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  • Can the installation continue from USB after restart? – ng.newbie Mar 14 '19 at 15:00
  • I have done complete installs, including the later stages, from a USB made by Rufus from an ISO file of Windows 10. There is probably a way to finagle Windows Media Creator to make a USB too, But making it go back to 8.1 is probably tricky – infixed Mar 14 '19 at 15:04
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If you do have optical media for your version of the OS and are just concerned about the drive being broken, external USB connected optical drives exist.

If you can borrow one, or buy one (they are not very expensive in my opinion), most BIOSes that can boot from a USB stick can also boot from a USB optical drive.

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