This article provides instructions to remove the Windows 10 Recovery (WinRE) partition from an MBR/EMBR disk. Removing the partition may be desirable to free up a partition table slot or recover space lost by its creation when Windows 10 was upgraded. Removing the currently enabled Recovery (WinRE) partition from a GPT disk is not recommended.
Due to the integration of the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) it's recommended to keep it functional by moving it to the Windows partition instead of simply deleting the Recovery partition and leaving WinRE in a broken state.
On a normal Windows 10 installation to an empty MBR disk, the WinRE files will be placed on the System Reserved partition and not a separate Recovery partition. However, if the install is done to an existing partition (as might be configured in a multi-boot system), Windows will create a new Recovery partition when it's upgraded and place the WinRE files on it. This new partition is created using space taken from the end of the Windows partition, which is resized smaller. The Recovery partition is usually 450MB in size, but may be larger, and will show as Recovery Partition in Disk Management. The partition is a hidden NTFS (type 27) partition and is treated as a special partition by Windows. For example, Disk Management will not allow assigning a drive letter or deleting the partition. Both operations can be performed using the DISKPART utility from the Command Prompt, however (refer to applicable section at end of article).
WinRE included on System Reserved partition
WinRE installed on Recovery partition
Making a backup image of the Recovery partition(s) before beginning is recommended. Aside from having the backup, it also provides an easy method to determine the contents of the partition(s) if you're unsure that a partition (or which partition) contains WinRE. (If there are multiple Recovery partitions on the disk, the most current/active one is usually the one located directly after the Windows partition.) Below is a Recovery partition image opened in TBIView showing the \Recovery\WindowsRE folder, which contains the winre.wim file.
Note: The procedure below assumes a standard Windows 10 WinRE exists and is in a functional state. Due to the nature of WinRE and the multitude of system configurations there may be systems where WinRE requires repairs to function properly after the removal procedure is completed.
- If you are using BootIt BM for multi-booting, make sure the applicable Recovery partition is loaded into the MBR for the Windows being booted.
- Boot into Windows.
- Open an Administrator Command Prompt: Press the Windows Key to display the Start screen and then type Command Prompt. The program should show in the search results. Right-click on the Command Prompt item and click Run as administrator. If a UAC prompt is displayed, click the Yes button.
Alternatively, you can press WinKey+X to display the Quick Link menu. Select Command Prompt (Admin) or Windows PowerShell (Admin) and click Yes on the UAC prompt (if displayed).
If you run Windows PowerShell, you can switch to the normal Command Prompt by running the following command:
- Run the following command to disable WinRE:
- Verify that winre.wim now exists in the C:\Windows\System32\Recovery folder. Run:
dir /a C:\Windows\System32\Recovery
For a standard installation of Windows you should see winre.wim in the list of files. For OEM installations it may or may not be there, depending on the configuration.
Note: If the file doesn't exist and you want to keep WinRE you can either keep the Recovery (WinRE) partition or go ahead and delete it and copy the winre.wim file from your backup image (if the winre.wim file can't be found you won't be able to enable WinRE until it's repaired). Copying the file may require other modifications before WinRE can be enabled (see section at end of article).
- Delete the Recovery partition: This can be done using BootIt BM, Partition Work in IFL GUI, DISKPART, etc., but not Disk Management as Windows protects the partition. If you will be using DISKPART, refer to the applicable section at the end of this article for instructions.
- After the partition has been deleted, boot back into Windows, if necessary.
- Open an Administrator Command Prompt and run the following command to enable WinRE on the Windows partition:
Note: If there is an error enabling WinRE see the following section for details on repairing WinRE.
WinRE Fails to Enable After Recovery Partition is Removed
Enabling WinRE can fail for a number of reasons, including:
- The winre.wim file is missing or not at an expected location.
- WinRE only partially disabled or enabled.
- The configuration file (ReAgent.xml) contains invalid information.
To repair any of these issues refer to the following KB article:
Repairing the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE)
Using DISKPART to Assign a Drive Letter to the WinRE Partition or Delete the WinRE Partition
Even though Windows protects the WinRE partition from changes using Disk Management, you can still assign a drive letter or delete the partition by using the DISKPART utility.
- Open an Administrator Command Prompt.
- Start DISKPART by running the following command:
- DISKPART will start and you will be at the "DISKPART>" prompt.
- List the drives by running the following command:
- The installed drives will be listed, starting with Disk 0. In most cases, Disk 0 is the booting drive and also the drive containing the Recovery (WinRE) partition. You need to select the drive that contains the partition which needs to be assigned a letter or deleted. Disk 0 will be used in this example. Select the appropriate drive by running the following command:
select disk 0
- The next step is to select the partition. To see the list of partitions on the selected drive, run the following command:
- Select the partition which needs to be assigned a letter or deleted. You can use the partition's position in the list as well as the values for the partition's type and size to determine the correct partition number. In this example, Partition 4 is the desired partition.
select partition 4
- The next command to run depends on whether you want to assign a drive letter to the partition or delete the partition. IMPORTANT: If you are deleting the partition make sure you have selected the correct partition. There will be no confirmation prompt. If necessary, run the following command for more details on the selected partition:
To assign a drive letter, run the following command:
To delete the partition, run the following command:
delete partition override
- Finally, exit DISKPART: