A great many users want to create a Surface recovery image but don’t know how to do that. In this article, MiniTool will explain how to download/create/use Surface recovery images in detail. Let’s start reading.

What Is Recovery Image

The system image is an important file stored on a dedicated recovery partition to restore or reset your computer. The recovery image can be used as a restore point for your system. If your computer runs into problems like partition loss or system crash, the recovery image can help you revert the OS to its normal state.

So, a lot of people want to create a recovery image for their computers. However, many of them don’t know how to create a recovery image for Surface devices. Don’t worry. We will walk you through detailed steps in the following parts.

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Before You Start the Surface Recovery Image Download

If your Surface laptop isn’t working, then you need to download Surface recovery image first and use it to refresh/reset the system, which can help troubleshoot problems with the Surface machine. In addition, a flash USB drive is required to download the image. Here you need to prepare a correct USB drive depending on your Surface models:

Tip: Microsoft Surface recovery image applies to many types of Surface models, including Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2/3/4/6/7/7+/8//XT/RT, Surface Go, Surface Go 2/3, Surface Hub 25, Surface Duo, Surface Studio, Surface Book, Surface Laptop 1/2/3/4/SE, etc.
  • For most Surface models: Make sure that your USB drive should be at least 16 GB of available space.
  • For Surface RT and Surface 2 models: Make sure that your USB drive should be at least 8 GB of available space.

More important thing is to make sure that the USB drive should be formatted to FAT32. When it comes to formatting a USB drive, the Windows Disk Management or Diskpart tool may be your first choice. However, both the two tools have limitations in formatting a USB drive larger than 32 GB.

To format the USB drive quickly and effectively, we highly recommend you use a professional disk management tool like MiniTool Partition Wizard. It is a multifunctional partition manager that can format a USB drive to FAT32/NTFS/exFAT/Ext/Linux Swap with a few clicks. Moreover, this tool boasts many other powerful features like converting NTFS to FAT32 without data loss, converting MBR to GPT, extending partition, measuring disk, etc.

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Here’s how to format the USB drive using the MiniTool software.

Step 1. Launch the MiniTool program to enter its main interface, select the USB drive from the disk map and click on Format Partition from the left action panel. Also, you can right-click the USB drive and select Format.

Step 2. In the pop-up dialog box, select FAT32 from the File System drop-down menu and click on OK to save the change. Here you can set the Partition Label and Cluster Size according to your needs.

format a USB drive to FAT32 using MiniTool Partition Wizard

Step 3. Click on Apply to execute the pending changes. After that, you can create a Surface recovery image using the USB drive.

How to Download the Surface Recovery Image

Now, let’s see how to get the Surface recovery image downloaded on your Surface.

Step 1. Click here to open the Microsoft Surface Recovery Image Download page.

Step 2. Scroll down the page to the Select your Surface device section, and then select your Surface models such as Surface Pro 3 from the drop-down menu, enter the Serial number of your device, and click on Continue.

Tip: Usually, you can find the serial number of the Surface device from the barcode label.

select Surface product and enter the serial number

Step 3. Click on the Download recovery image link and select a location to save the recovery_rd.img zip file on your Surface laptop.

Step 4. Decompress the downloaded recovery_rd.img file. Once done, you can move down to the following part to create the Surface Pro 3 recovery images via the USB drive.

How to Create a Surface Recovery Image Using a USB Drive

Once you have downloaded the Surface Pro 3 recovery images, you can follow the steps below to create the recovery USB drive. For that:

Step 1. Make sure that your Surface is turned on and plugged in, and insert the USB drive into the ports before you start creating the Surface Pro recovery image. If possible, we recommend you use a USB 3.0 drive.

Step 2. Type recovery in the Search box and select the Recovery Drive or Create a recovery drive app from the top result. Then click on Yes in the User Account Control window to confirm the operation.

type Recovery Drive in the Search box

Step 3. In the pop-up window, make sure you select the checkbox next to Back up system files to the recovery drive and click on Next.

Back up system files to the recovery drive

Step 4. Wait for the tool to detect your USB drive automatically. Once detected, select the USB drive and click on Next > Create. This process will copy many files/folders into the recovery drive, so you may need to wait for a while.

Note: This process will delete everything on the USB drive. So, make sure that you back up all important data in advance.

create the recovery drive

Step 5. When the Surface Pro recovery image is created, click on Finish.

Step 6. Now, double click the recovery_rd.img folder you just downloaded, press Ctrl + A keys to select all the files inside the recovery image folder, right-click them and select Copy.

Step 7. Open your USB recovery drive you just created, right-click it and select Paste > Replace the files in the destination. Then wait for the copying process to complete.

Once done, make sure you Safely eject the USB drive from the taskbar. Then you can boot your Surface from the USB recovery drive and perform a reset/refresh of your system with the image.

How to Use the Surface Recovery Image

Sometimes you may need to reset or restore your Surface to the factory settings when the system is not working properly. How to reset the Surface using the USB recovery drive? Here are detailed steps:

Warning: Resetting the Surface will delete all personal files, and remove all apps and settings. Before you start, make sure you have backed up the product keys, and installation files of your desktop apps like Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, and Visio so that you can reinstall them after the reset.

Step 1. Make sure that your Surface is turned off and the USB recovery drive is inserted into your machine properly.

Step 2. Press and hold the volume-down button at the side of your Surface while you press and release the Power button.

Step 3. Once the Surface or Microsoft logo appears, release the volume-down button.

Step 4. Select the Language and Keyboard layout that you want when prompted.

Step 5. In the Choose an option, select Troubleshoot and select Recover from a drive. If you are asked for a recovery key, select the Skip this drive at the bottom of the screen.

Note: Make sure you select the Troubleshoot > Recover from a drive on this screen. Do not select the Use a device option. Otherwise, your surface will reboot from the USB recovery drive again and the resetting process will start over.

select Recover from a drive

Step 6. You can select either Just remove my files or Fully clean the drive. The former option will refresh but keep your PC, while the latter will recycle your Surface and may take hours to complete.

select an option to recover from a drive

Step 7. Click on Recover, then your Surface will restart and display the Surface logo during the resetting process.

How to Do If the USB Recovery Drive Not Showing on Your Surface

After reading the above information, I believe that lots of users can make a Surface Pro 4 recovery image successfully. However, some of them reported that they can’t boot from the USB recovery drive or that the drive not showing up.

In this case, you need to enable the boot-from-USB option from the Surface BIOS or set the USB recovery drive as the first boot option. Here we will show you how to set the USB as the first boot order.

Step 1. Power down your Surface.

Step 2. Press and hold the Volume-down button on your Surface while you press and release the Power bottom.

Step 3. When the Surface logo screen appears, release the volume-up button and then your Surface will enter into the UEFI menu.

Step 4. Navigate to the Boot configuration or Configure Alternate System Boot Order tab and put the USB recovery drive to the first boot location.

Step 5. Select Exit > Restart Now or Exit Setup > Yes to save and exit the boot menu. Then your Surface should reboot from the USB drive.

If the USB drive still can show in the Recover from a drive option or can’t work properly, then you may have to consider reformatting the USB drive and creating the Surface recovery image again as we explained in the above sections.

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Have a Try Now

Where to download Surface recovery images? How to create a Surface recovery USB drive and use it to reset the Surface? All these answers have been illustrated in the given post. In addition, we also provide solutions to fix the Surface recovery USB drive not working issue.

If you have any other questions about the Microsoft Surface recovery image topic, please leave them down in the comment area. Well, you can send us an email via [email protected] when you have difficulty formatting the USB drive with MiniTool Partition Wizard.

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