Applies to

Surface RT, Surface 2, Surface 3, Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro 3, Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1.


Create a USB recovery drive

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


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

Copying or moving this information to a USB drive has two advantages:

  • Recovery. If you ever have a problem getting your Surface to start, you can use the USB recovery drive to start your Surface.
  • Free up storage. You can free up storage space on your Surface by removing recovery information and storing it on a USB drive. The amount of disk space you can free up varies by device.
Important
If you delete the recovery information from your Surface after you create the USB recovery drive, be sure to keep the USB recovery drive in a safe place. A recovery image will no longer be stored on your Surface, and you'll need your USB recovery drive if you ever need to refresh or reset your Surface.

Create a recovery drive

Surface comes with a built-in tool to create a USB recovery drive. To create a recovery drive, you'll need an external USB drive formatted to FAT32, with enough available storage space for all your recovery data.

Note
You can also download the recovery files from the Surface website. For more info, see Download a recovery image for your Surface.

Find out how much space you’ll need on the USB drive

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Search.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and click Search.)
Step 2:In the search box, enter recovery, and in the search results, tap or click Recovery, and tap or click Create a recovery drive.
Step 3: In the User Account Control dialog box, tap or click Yes.
Step 4: Tap or click Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive, and tap or click Next.

The next screen will indicate how much storage space is available on your USB drive.

Step 5: Tap or click Cancel to close the recovery drive tool.
Important
Creating a recovery drive will erase anything that’s already stored on your USB drive. Make sure to transfer any important data from your USB drive to another storage device before using it to create a Surface USB recovery drive.

Format the drive to FAT32

Step 1:Connect the USB drive to your computer.
Step 2:Open File Explorer, right-click the USB drive, and choose Format.
Step 3:Choose File system > FAT32, and select Start.

Create the recovery drive

Step 1: Connect the power supply to your Surface and plug into an electrical outlet.
Step 2: Insert your USB drive into the USB port on your Surface.
Step 3: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap or click Search.
Step 4: In the search box, enter recovery, and in the search results, tap or click Recovery, and tap or click Create a recovery drive.
Step 5: In the User Account Control dialog box, tap or click Yes.
Step 6: Tap or click Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive, and tap or click Next.
Step 7: Tap or click the USB drive you want to use, and tap or click Next.
Step 8: Tap or click Create.

The recovery image and recovery tools will be copied to your USB drive. Your Surface must stay awake during the copy process, which will take 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 9:

After the recovery tools are copied, do one of the following:

  • Tap or click Finish if you want to keep the recovery tools on your Surface.
  • Tap or click Delete the recovery partition if you want to remove the recovery tools from Surface and free up disk space. To confirm, tap or click Delete, and when removal is complete, tap or click Finish.
Step 10: Remove your USB drive from Surface and keep it in a safe place.

It's best not to use the recovery drive to store other files or data.

Important
If you choose to delete your recovery partition, you’ll need to have your USB recovery drive if you ever need to refresh or reset your Surface.

Use a recovery drive

Once you’ve created a recovery drive, you can use it to start your Surface, if needed. For more info, see Using a Surface USB recovery drive.

To make sure you’ll be able to boot from the recovery drive, configure the boot order so the USB drive is the first option. For more info, see How do I use the BIOS/UEFI?