Creating and using a USB recovery drive

Applies to: Surface Devices

You can use a USB recovery drive to start your Surface if you’re having problems or need to free up storage space.

Your Surface comes with Windows recovery info that allows you to refresh it or reset it to its factory condition. This info is stored in a dedicated recovery partition on your device.

If your Surface won’t start, or if the recovery info has been removed, you can use your USB recovery drive to access recovery tools and solve problems

Not sure what you need to do? Find the scenario that best fits your issue and then select the solution:

Scenario Try this
My Surface isn’t working well, and I need to download a factory recovery drive image Download a recovery image for your Surface
I have already downloaded a recovery image or was sent one from Microsoft and need to use it to reset my Surface How to reset your Surface to factory conditions using a downloaded recovery image
My Surface is working great, and I would like to create a recovery drive now in case I ever need it later. Creating and using your own USB recovery drive
I am having trouble booting to the recovery drive If the USB recovery drive doesn’t work on your Surface

 

Download a recovery image for your Surface

If you’re having trouble with the recovery options on your Surface, download the files you need to get your Surface working again. To get started, visit our Download a recovery image for your Surface page. From there, select your Surface device, and download a recovery image .zip file for the device you selected, and then follow steps to create the recovery drive.

If your Surface is not working and you don't have another Windows PC that you can use to download the recovery image, it may be possible to have a USB recovery drive mailed to you. For more info, contact us.

How to reset your Surface to factory conditions using a downloaded recovery image

Video: Recover your Surface Device

  1. Make sure your Surface is turned off and plugged in, and then insert the USB recovery drive into the USB port.
  2. Press and hold the volume-down button while you press and release the power button.
  3. When the Microsoft or Surface logo appears, release the volume-down button.
  4. When prompted, select the language and keyboard layout you want.
  5. Select Troubleshoot , and then select Recover from a drive . If prompted for a recovery key, select Skip this drive at the bottom of the screen.

    The Choose an option screen to reset your Surface to factory conditions using a downloaded recovery image.

  6. Choose either Just remove my files or Fully clean the drive.
    The option to clean the drive is more secure but takes much longer. For example, if you’re recycling your Surface, you should clean the drive. If you’re keeping your Surface, you just need to remove your files.
  7. Select Recover.
    Surface restarts and displays the Surface logo while the reset process continues. This can take several minutes.

Creating and using your own USB recovery drive

Surface comes with a built-in tool to create a USB recovery drive. You must use an external USB drive formatted to FAT32 (not NTFS), with enough available space for all your recovery data.

For steps on how to create a USB recovery drive, go to Create a recovery drive.

Once you’ve finished creating the recovery drive, be sure to eject the drive using the Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media icon on the Windows taskbar.

When the prompt pops up, insert the recovery drive into the USB port on your Surface. To find out how to use your own recovery drive, see the “Use a recovery drive to restore or reset your PC” section in Recovery options in Windows 10.

If the USB recovery drive doesn’t work on your Surface

If you can’t boot from your USB recovery drive or don’t see the Recover from a drive option, you may need to ensure that boot from USB is enabled or configure the boot order so the USB drive is the first option. For more info, see Boot Surface from a USB device.