Surface Pro: Dump the Factory Image. It’s for the Best.

**Please note, you can use this guide for any flavor of Windows 8 on your Surface Pro. Just replace Pro with Enterprise or Home or whatever and you are golden.**

I have now lived with my Surface Pro for over a month. In that time, there have been ups and downs to be sure. But for the most part, it has been an excellent machine and has performed marvelously in all aspects and in every scenario I have thrown at it. That was until recently…

In an effort to create guides for various issues others have been experiencing, I did a factory reset and went back to the stock image. After doing this, my problems began to get ugly. The wireless was not dependable, my onscreen keyboard would not pop up sometimes, rotation was wonky, the brightness would dim or brighten on its own despite turning off that feature and a litany of other bugs and issues that you can find here on the known issues post. I had really begun to be disgusted with how poorly the Surface Pro was QA’ed. Then it began to dawn on me that most of these issues are exclusive to the Surface Pro. When I used my Asus EP121, though much slower, I experienced none of these issues when using Windows 8. Nor did I experience them on my Acer W500, which was also incredibly slow. This got me thinking: what if these issues are ONLY with the Windows 8 Surface Pro build image?

Check Out My Review of Faith No More’s Original UK Vinyl Album Release

Check Out My Other Post Here About Commuting On Your Bike to Work in Nashville!

With that in my mind, I will let you know the result after a week of testing it. The Surface Pro’s Windows 8 build image is crap. It is riddled with problems and you should just leave it behind and build your own. If you are having ANY issues with it, you can almost certainly blame it on the default factory image that ships with the Surface Pro. There is no other excuse. Since switching to my own build image, I have had zero issues and my Surface Pro is even more dependable (and faster) than prior to restoring to factory. Truly, this is how the Surface Pro should be and how fast it should perform.

So here’s a guide for you. May it lead you toward a problem free Surface Pro.

Please note, that though I fixed many of my issues, the pen pressure sensitivity issue CANNOT be fixed by this. That will require an actual driver update from Microsoft, sorry. And further, if you screw up your Surface Pro beyond repair, I cannot be held responsible. I can say ALL of my problems evaporated after this but as I have only one Surface Pro to test with, I cannot say that 100% of your problems will too. I feel very strongly they will. Proceed at your own risk. BUT feel free to sound off in the comments with any issues you experience. I will be glad to assist.

Furthermore, this will REMOVE EVERYTHING CURRENTLY on your Surface Pro. This is meant to remove all items in the MS build image that are causing issues and bugs. There will not be and should not be any backup restoration procedure in this scenario. Any files that you need to put back on the Surface Pro will have to be done manually with copy/paste and all programs will have to be re-installed.

I should also mention that if you do this, you will likely gain an additional 7-10GB of space on your Surface Pro as any Windows 8 Pro x64 image you download or pull from a disc is going to be smaller than the default, factory image. So that’s a plus!

Tools Needed:

  • USB Key with at least 4GB. I recommend the Patriot Supersonic 64 GB Flash Drive
  • USB Key with at least 8GB. Again, I recommend the Patriot Supersonic 64 GB Flash Drive
  • A copy of Windows 8 Pro x64 from a DVD or downloaded from MSDN or another source, such as Amazon: Windows 8 Pro x64 (Full Price from Amazon)
  • The complete drivers package for the Surface Pro
  • The Windows utility DISM. Available here from us (this saves your from downloading the 1.5GB package from Microsoft)
  • Optionally, if you have a 16GB or above USB key, you can use that instead of two keys. I will explain.
  • You can do this from your currently working or half-working Surface Pro or another computer running Windows 7 or 8. With my guide, my assumption is that you are using your Surface Pro with a keyboard attached

**If you were in my shoes, then you did not have a legal copy of Windows 8 Pro x64 lying around and your Surface Pro did not ship with one. Unfortunately, you are on your own for this step. All I can say is that various sites have downloads available. Even if you download a copy from a less than legal source, it should not matter (though I am no copyright lawyer) as you are not cracking the software and will use a legal product key to activate it. I wish you luck in your hunt for a copy. If you are a MSDN subscriber, then you can easily download an evaluation copy. Or you can sign up for a Developer account and get a copy. Or there is always ebay.**

  1. First things first, make a backup of your Surface Pro’s factory image
  2. Insert your 8GB (or 16GB or larger) USB drive
  3. Search via the Charms menu for Create a recovery drive
  4. Follow the prompts and create the drive. This will likely take about 15 minutes
  5. Set that aside in a safe place. You can use this to go back to factory so DO NOT LOSE IT!!
  • If you used a 16GB or larger drive, keep it handy. I will explain.

Second series of Steps. Create your bootable, Windows 8 Pro x64 boot disk:

  1. Get your product key using this utility and copy that product key to a Notepad file and save it somewhere, such as SkyDrive. You will need it upon re-installation of Windows 8 Pro x64
  2. Most likely, you downloaded an ISO or IMG of Windows 8 Pro x64 from wherever
  3. Use 7-zip to extract the contents of the ISO to your desktop or another spot
  4. To do this, install 7-zip, then right click the ISO as in the image below and choose 7-zip->Extract to “Whatever is in the quotes”7zipcapture-615x378-1
  1. The extract will take a couple minutes
  2. Once extracted, go to the Sources folder in what was extracted and move the file install.wim to the root of C (C:\)MoveWIM-615x378-2
  • This just makes it easier to type in Command Prompt. You are welcome to leave it where it is as long as you know the path
  1. The file you downloaded above (DISM). Put it in the root of C (C:\) as well
  2. Create a new folder in the root C:\ named spdrivers
  3. Create a new folder in the root C:\ named mount
  4. Download the drivers for the Surface Pro and extract them to that folder: C:\spdrivers
  5. Now launch the Command Prompt (Admin) by pressing Windows key+X and choosing the Command Prompt (Admin) option
  6. Say Yes when prompted
  7. Type: cd c:\
  8. Type: dism /mount-wim /wimfile:c:\install.wim /index:1 /mountdir:c:\mount dismunpack-615x379-3
  1. It will take a few minutes to extract the file
  2. Once it is done, type: dism /image:c:\mount /add-driver /driver:c:\spdrivers /recurseDISMDriver-615x573-4
  1. It will scan for drivers. You may receive Error 50 for the GPIO Button Driver. This can be ignored
  2. Now to close up shop
  3. Type: dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:c:\mount /commitcloseupshop-615x355-5
  1. Type: exit. The Command Prompt will close
  2. Let me explain what you just did. You just dumped all the necessary drivers into your installer for Windows 8 Pro x64. This alleviates the need to install the drivers later
  3. Now move the file install.wim BACK TO THE SOURCES folder from whence it was moved in Step 6
  4. Insert your 4GB USB drive (it will be erased). If you used a larger drive, that will be covered further down
  5. Right click that drive and choose Format
  6. Under File System, choose FAT32
  7. Give it a name if you like, such as Win8Prox64
  8. Now go into the folder that contains the files for your Windows 8 Pro x64 installation that was extracted using 7-zip
  9. Highlight all the files and select Send to->Win8Prox64 (or whatever name you gave your drive)sendtousbdrive-615x378-6
  1. It will take a few minutes to copy to the USB drive
  2. Once the copying is finished, power off your Surface Pro
  3. Insert the USB key
  4. Hold the volume down button and press the power button once
  5. When you see Surface, let go of the volume button
  6. Your Surface Pro will begin booting from the USB drive
  7. Once at the Setup screen, press Next and then Install Now
  8. Choose I accept the license terms and Next
  9. Choose Custom and then Drive options (advanced)
  10. Moment of truth and no going back. Everything will be deleted
  11. Highlight each partition and choose Delete and then Yes until all partitions are gone and there is only Unallocated Space
  12. Choose New and say OK/Yes and then Next
  13. Windows will install and once finished, you will boot into the normal setup routine
  14. Setup your login and colors and wireless
  15. Once logged in, you now need to enter your product key
  16. From the Charms search box, type: Slui.exe 0x3
  17. Enter your product key when prompted and press Next/Finish
  18. All done!

If you want to use a single USB key instead of two:

  1. Create your recovery drive as indicated above
  2. Now look at the recovery USB drive in Windows Explorer
  3. Rename the folder sources to sources_recovery
  4. Rename the file Reagent to Reagent_recovery
  5. Now follow the Steps 1-22 above
  6. Instead of copying all files from your Windows 8 Pro x64 folder, only copy: sources, support, the autorun and setup file in the root of that folder to the USB keycopysomefileswin8-615x379-7
  1. The files shown in the image above: copy and then paste to the root of your Recovery drive
  2. This will allow the USB key to function as a Windows 8 Pro x64 bootable drive as well as the Recovery drive if you need to go back to factory settings
  3. Once the files copy, follow Steps 30-45 above
  4. That’s it!

In order to make the USB key bootable for recovery, you have to modify the renamed folder and files back to their original values:

  1. Rename the sources folder to sources_win8prox64
  2. Rename sources_recovery to sources
  3. Rename Reagent_recovery to Reagent
  4. Now the drive will boot as a recovery drive
  5. Just switch back and forth with those naming schemes indicated above and you can have a single key for both your Windows 8 installation and the Recovery

Now, what do you lose? You lose the ability to have a recovery partition. You can still do Refreshes and Resets using the Windows 8 Pro x64 USB key. When you launch the Reset, it will ask for that key and then proceed so as long as you have the USB key, you are cool.

The second thing lost is the Lifecam Dashboard. Your cameras will work fine but the app that plugs into the camera–Lifecam Dashboard–will not. This is due to some licensing crap and, to be honest, you are not missing anything. That’s it. Other than having to re-install your programs and apps and moving any files back to the Surface Pro, you are set. Enjoy your Surface Pro now in the bug free zone!

Do you need more Surface Pro info?

Surface Pro Drivers

Surface Pro Warranty Info

Surface Pro Issues, Bugs & Quick Fixes

Check Out My Other Post Here About Commuting On Your Bike to Work in Nashville!

Featured image used with care from Flickr’s Creative Commons page. Surface Pro. Best Windows 8 experience. Still Windows.


on “Surface Pro: Dump the Factory Image. It’s for the Best.
111 Comments on “Surface Pro: Dump the Factory Image. It’s for the Best.
  1. Thank you for this guide. Just picked up a used Surface Pro 64gb that had the recovery partition removed and thought I would have to take it to MS to get a recovery usb drive. WIth your guide I have my own. Thanks.

    • I had to change my USB disk to GPT before I could boot to the USB disk successfully. I do not see a mention of it in these instructions. It may have had something to do with the fact my USB drive was formatted MBR before making the ‘recovery disk’ using windows 8.

      If you see a BCD error when trying to boot to your USB device however, you may have to change it to a GPT disk using diskpart.

      • The boot disk only needs to be FAT32 and contain the proper EFI boot file. GPT is not necessary for the boot disk. Either way, glad you got it working!

  2. I bought a Surface Pro 128GB last Friday and have finally got it to work like it should thanks to your guide here. I used a 32GB USB memory stick, created a backup of the factory settings and a bootable windows 8 install (ISO from Dreamspark for students) with the driver pack added to it. After installation I added the Audio, Intel and Wacom drivers. I had the overheating problem but that disappeared after I did a full windows update.

    Now my Surface Pro seems to work like it should. Big thank you for doing this guide and drivers compilation! You probably saved me several days of software fixes. Now I can start drawing on this thing.

  3. Adam, I think for the new 8.1 preview version we need a new version of Prism? I got an error when trying to inject the SP-drivers into the 8.1 version of install.wim.

    • Prism? What is Prism?

      I was able to integrate the drivers for the leaked beta builds of Windows 8.1 and have not yet tested with the Preview. Once I have that, I will definitely post something.

        • Within the install.wim file for Windows 8.1, there should be a new version of dism.exe. It should be located in c:\windows\syswow64. Extract that and try it again is all I can suggest at this point until I get my hands on 8.1.

          • I just installed the Technet version of 8.1 on my SP. It included the new dism.exe. It’s now injecting the drivers downloaded from your site. Looks good till now.

  4. For version 8.1 it’s only possible to inject the drivers with the new dism.exe version from 8.1. The 8.0 version of dism.exe is not working injecting the spdrivers into 8.1

  5. You had the correct feeling, Adam :)

    It’s around midnight here in The Netherlands, dism is almost ready to inject the new 8.1 preview. Maybe I do a clean install in a few minutes, I will keep inform you.

  6. I installed my SP with the original preview 8.1 ISO I downloaded from Technet. I did not injected any drivers. The result was 2 unidentified devices, but after Windows Update they were recognized too. It looks like 8.1 is SP ready.

    Anyone other thoughts about this?

    • I did an update via the Store and all drivers installed during the update. The process was smooth and quick: took longer to download than install. The SP is definitely 8.1 ready.

  7. So I loaded 8.1 to check it out and ended up wanting to go back to 8 till full release. Tried booting and it just woud not recognize the usb drive. So I made a new one following the instructions and now when I try to boot off this one it says;

    Windows failed to start. A hardware or software change might be the cause.

    File: \EFI\Microsoft\Boot\BCD
    Status 0xc000000f
    The boot configuration data for your pc is missing or contains errors.

    It will boot into 8.1 just fine but can’t get it to do a reinstall of win8. Any ideas?

  8. Thank you very much for this guide. I am having problems with my install though and was hoping you mightb be able to help. I can partition all my drives and windows copys the installation files ready for install but the I get an error message. Which when I read up meant the drive is faulty. However I have used the recovery image perfectly. However I did go into one option when using the recovery and it said my harddrive is locked. Is there anything I can do as I feel this is what stopped the initial windows 8 install following this tutorial .


    • At what point is it stating the drive is locked? I have found that generally only occurs if an installation is started, fails and then a restart of that installation is attempted without rebooting. Did you try rebooting and repeating the installation procedure?

  9. I made an 8.1 USB stick from the official iso and did a clean install of that (deleted all partitions). Once installed, Windows Update installed all the necessary drivers. Does this produce the same end result?

  10. Hi Adam, great tutorial! But I can’t find the install.wim in my sources folder. There is just a install.esd file.
    I’ve downloaded the iso directly from Microsoft Server…

    What should I do now?

  11. Nice guide. I am thinking about going this route but have a question. When following this guide is it necessary to remove the recovery partition? I am not needing that space at the moment and from what I read, once it is removed it can’t be added back.

    • If you create a USB recovery drive, you can use that AT ANY TIME to return your Surface Pro to factory. If you upgrade to Windows 8.1, this may be different but if you have USB recovery drive, that will put you back to as if you just got the Surface Pro out of the box and it will re-create the recovery partition.

      If you follow my guide and leave the partition in place, you will not be able to use so it would be wasted space as it will not function as intended once you install the OS anew/from scratch. My guide specifically states a recovery drive should be made so that is my advice in this scenario as well.

  12. Can you tell me if your instructions would work to install Windows 7 64bit on the Surface Pro?
    I have been trying for days, using usb flash drives, external DVD-Rom drive, and even trying a micro-usb card. I get to the point where all the files are copied, expanded and installed and it reboots then I get the BCD error and I go no further.

    Thank you for any information you can give.

    • Windows 7 is the old, clunker. Why waste the beauty of your Surface Pro on such a, now, outdated OS?? No, this guide will not work for that as the EFI files for Windows 7 are out of date. I will not offer any support or tips for this as it is a step backwards in my opinion and anyone doing it, needs to think long and hard about why they are doing it.

      If you get it working, it will be on your own. I’m with Windows 8 and above. Windows 7 is slow and cannot keep up with the future of computing.

  13. I have the issue that my install.wim file is over 4gb (4.2 gb) so I cannot use fat32 formatting, but have to use ntfs since fat32 cannot handle files over 4gb. But formatting ntfs makes it not bootable from the power + volume down step. Which means I cannot actually do this.

    I am looking into GPT as the first commentor mentioned. Otherwise how can I boot from the drive? I have a 16gb thumb drive.

      • it seems that tool (imageX) was replaced by dism. in my research dism has an option of: /Split-Image but when I try that, i get an option not found error. even though on the support site on MS’ site it shows that option.

        the command is supposed to be this with Dism:
        Dism /Split-Image /ImageFile:install.wim /SWMFile:split.swm /FileSize:650

        but it barks that /Split-Image is not an option. could I have an old version? seems odd since this tool seemed to replace imageX for windows 8. And I cannot find a download for imageX to test it.

      • Ok so Dism doesnt seem to work, not a copy i could find. It did not have the /Split-Image option. So i managed to find a copy of imageX which worked perfectly. Once I copied imageX into my system32 dir, i just ran this command

        imagex /split install.wim c:\install.swm 1024

        where install.wim is the source install.wim file, and c:\install.swm is the destination split files. and 1024 is the size of the split files. my original install.wim for me was 4.4gb so i ended up with 4 x 1gb files plus a ~400mb file. i placed these into the sources dir and everything worked perfectly.

        here is a link to the imagex file I used, i am hosting in my drive account:

  14. Thanks for making such awesome guide as always Adam! Restored my Surface Pro and so far working good :) However, there’s a femto part missing; the manufacturer logo that used to appear under System in the classic control panel. Any suggestions for getting it back?

    • I just checked mine and there is no OEM logo file for it. I’m not certain where it is located or how to restore it. You can put any logo you wish instead. Here’s a guide to that.

  15. when I installed the new copy of windows 8, and i tried to enter in my original key, I got an error stating invalid key. has anyone else encountered that. The install went fine. just couldnt use the key.

    • This would indicate one of two things. The key you culled using the Magic Jelly Bean keyfinder was incorrect or has a typo or you are installing something different than Windows 8 Pro. I would recommend restoring your factory image and re-checking your key for a typo and then confirming that your installation source is Windows 8 Pro. This has not happened for me nor anyone else that I am aware of.

      Regarding DISM/ImageX, you are correct. I have found DISM completely unreliable in splitting images. Use ImageX for that.

    • If you are installing Windows 8 Pro, you shouldn’t even be asked for a product key (I wasn’t). If I remember correctly, a tech support representative once informed me that the product key is stored in the BIOS of the Surface Pro. So, when I connect to the internet, Windows 8 Pro Automatically gets activated with the key.

      If you’re installing Windows 8 Pro with Media Center, then it wouldn’t get activated until you provide a Media Center key; yes a key for the Media Center addon pack is sufficient enough to activate the entire Windows (I did it when my Surface Pro was having this problem: http://bit ly/1eFsymQ).

      • I agree. I merely added that to the guide as a stopgap safety measure and to make sure each person gets or can have their key saved somewhere (if they want). Thanks for the info!

  16. So, If I read this right, you only need an installation source, not an actual second license correct?

    The new installation should just use the key from the old one?

    Or do you have to buy a new copy of windows 8?

  17. Hi, Adam! your tutorial guide is awesome! . but, could u make a copy recovery image and share the recovery image. Because I accidentally deleted C drive prior to clean install windows 8.1 preview .Now, I am unable to reset to default factory settings.

    Thank you very much.

    • As a rule, I am not sharing the recovery partition. I believe this will be a license violation against MS and I do not wish to do so. The best option is to go to a store that has one on display and make a copy from that. Or just stick with Windows 8.1. When you installed Windows 8.1, it would have downloaded the files to a hidden folder on your C drive. Just copy the content from there if you wish to have a fresh installation.

  18. PS: i called to Microsoft service support, they said, need me to find someone who has the same device as me, then make a copy of recovery from them. But, my area no one has the surface pro.
    By the way, my device is Surface pro with 128GB

    • You are correct. If you wish to not use the original factory image, you need an additional installation source. The key appears to be stored in the firmware/BIOS. BUT I would save it anyway as … you never know.

      I’m confused. Is your recovery partition not working correctly?

      As an aside, I no longer believe dumping the factory image is necessary. Upgrade to Windows 8.1 and most, if not all, of the buginess of the original factory image is gone (or at least it was in my case).

  19. How can i completley wipe my SSD drive, i want to wipe it and I dont have the USB key I created originally. I have been told that I can take it to microsoft if it doesnt boot and they will re image it for me as I wish to sell my surface. Hence the reason to wipe what I have done so it can be re imaged or replaced under warranty and then I can sell a functional Surface Pro unit as purchased from the shop.

    Any ideas?

    • So you lost, or no longer have, the USB recovery drive that you created and at the time of creating that drive, you wiped the recovery partition as well?

      The best option I can think of is to go to a shop that carries a SP and make a recovery drive from the floor model (or buy one and then return it…).

      Giving up on the SP huh? Oh well, I found that once I installed Windows 8.1, the SP reacted much more smoothly to everything I threw at it and the battery life was better. I would suggest trying that if you’re still willing to give it a chance.

  20. HI,ADAM. Thank you very much for the useful info and prompt response.
    As i mentioned above. At first, i installed windows 8.1 by upgrading ,but i accidentally just formatted C drive. However, i didn’t even touch recovery partitions. I’ve noticed that there are 2 recovery partition drives left in place.
    By the way, Today, i have already formatted all partitions(a whole disk) and installed windows 8 again by using your method above. And i used the key that i found somewhere on internet , Then activated online successfully.
    So, i am now using the activated windows 8.
    and if i keep continuing using this windows 8. do u think is there something wrong will affect my surface device?

    • If you are still seeing recovery partitions, then the recovery partitions are likely still intact but not active and possibly hidden. Do you see these partitions in Computer? If you still have these partitions but they are hidden, follow steps 1-6 here. This will mount the drive so that you can view its contents.

      Once you see the drive, you can then move the files to a USB drive and boot from that to do a restore to the factory image if you would like.

      Regarding the “key that I found somewhere on the internet.” That sounds bad and likely means you are using a fraudulent product key. I doubt this will hamper you receiving updates but if the key is fraudulent, then at some point, it could become inactive and force errors regarding the activation of your machine.

  21. As at now, Unfortunately, i already completely erase my ssd. So, all recovery partitions disappeared, all old partitions were gone.
    In this case, Please ,if any idea to reset my sp to factory settings?
    Yes, that sounds very very bad, but i don’t have another way to solve the problem.
    Thanks again for your precious time .

  22. Hello, Im planning on buying a Surface Pro from Best Buy soon. will this be necessary if i do not wish to restore my surface or have a need to restore it when its just out of the box? shouldn’t it work fine out of the box? and also, why cant the factory image just be deleted from a brand new surface and then one created like right after booting up the surface for the first time?

    • This is not necessary if you buy a new Surface Pro. I have found that after all of the various updates are installed, the Surface Pro is quite stable.

  23. Hi Adam, thumbs up for providing us with great tutorial & responses.
    just like poom, i recently wiped out my SP’s SSD :/. I can recover the files from the recovery partition using getDataBack for NTFS, but the filenames are all garbled up.
    so could you inform me the correct names for the files from the recovery partition? simple screenshots would be nice :)

    • Hi Jinn,

      The recovery image will have the following files under a directory named ‘RecoveryImage':

      install.wim (or this may be install.swm with multiple parts but likely only install.wim)

      When you create a USB recovery drive, another file is created that is not on the recovery partition named ReAgent.xml.

      If you are looking to set your SP back to factory/stock, then I have no issue sending you the XML or CMD files that you may be missing but NOT the WIM file.

      A utility I use sometimes (that is free) to recovery data that has not been overwritten on a disk is Recuva.

      That’s it! Good luck!

  24. Hi, I have gone through this using your instructions for using a single 16GB USB. All went fine until I tried to boot from the USB. Whenever I try I get a screen saying Your PC needs to be repaired, file \windows\system32\winload.efi missing or contains errors. I checked in the c:\mount folder during the dism stuff and that file was there. I tried again, recreating the install.wim as instructed but still got the same error. Have you any what the problem could be? This is a brand new Surface that was a replacement for a faulty one and I thought I would start with a fresh install following these excellent instructions.

    • This would indicate that the EFI file on the USB drive is not present or is out of date.

      How about I stop you right here. If you have not wiped your SP yet, don’t.

      Instead, I recommend this. Install all available updates and then upgrade it to Windows 8.1. The initial reason I wiped my SP and did what is listed in this post is to offset bugs. These bugs are non-existent in Windows 8.1 or rather, I have not experienced any of them since upgrading.

      I would suggest you do that first as it is much easier and less of a headache.

      • Hi Adam,
        was just reading through the post and I’m about to upgrade to 8.1 as I have a msdn subscription.
        Would you recommend even keeping the 8.0 recovery image (as I’m not planning on going back to 8.0)?
        As far as I understood easiest process is to dump the recovery image, then upgrade to 8.1 with the iso from msdn (keeping all my installations and setup)?

  25. Can this same process be used to make a Windows 8.1 usb recovery drive? I upgraded my surface pro to 8.1 rtm and would much prefer a 8.1 usb recovery drive than having to install 8.0 then upgrade again should I have to.

    • I would guess no but as I’m still on the 8.1 CP, I cannot accurately test it. I am uncertain if the RTM alters the recovery image to 8.1 or not. My guess is no but until the official release of the RTM, I will leave it there. My guess is the RTM leaves the default image intact. Easiest way to test is to do a remove everything and reinstall Windows to see what happens. My guess is you’ll be back at 8.0.

      Did you install 8.1 from scratch or do the upgrade?

      • I did an upgrade to RTM. I would assume using the recovery usb I made would put me back to 8.0 but am hoping I can make a new recovery usb the same way with 8.1

        • The recovery partition is no doubt for Win8. You can make a USB installer for Windows 8.1 and it can be used for refreshes and recovery. When you go to do a refresh, it will ask for the files (if the recovery partition is gone) and when you insert the USB key, the refresh should continue.

    • Nope. 8.1 runs quite well with the factory image on the SP. I would say, if you can, to restore to factory and update to 8.1. Smooth sailing for me.

  26. Hello, my surface pro is BRICKED and I don’t have a recovery image. The link that I found on this page to the recovery image isn’t working. Can someone email me a recovery image for the surface Pro? Not sure why Microsoft has recovery Images for the RT but not the Pro!
    Anyone that can help please email me!

  27. Excellent instruction.

    My Surface Pro get stuck in the “Automatic repair” loop after the windows update. I contacted MS, but the help desk couldn’t fix it. I followed this instruction and brought my toy back to life within an hour.

    Thank you so much!

  28. Adam, you said, “Nope. 8.1 runs quite well with the factory image on the SP. I would say, if you can, to restore to factory and update to 8.1. Smooth sailing for me.”

    In the case of PCs, the Windows 8.1 upgrade creates a “Old_Windows” folder or something like that, and just seems like i’d be better off being a clean install. Is the Surface Pro any different or is it the same procedure? It seems like wasted space.

    If I chose to install a clean Windows 8.1 on my Pro (which came with 8 Pro), your requirements say, “A copy of Windows 8 Pro x64″ ? Is that a Retail or OEM copy? I can obtain the current product key from my Pro, but I’m not sure which disc it will match.

    • The Windows.old folder is fine to delete using Disk Cleanup and then using the Clean Up System Files option. Any copy of Windows 8.1 Pro x64 will work. Should not matter either way. An OEM copy may do some auto activation so you will not have to enter your SP product key. Just have to try it and see.

  29. Dear Adam Orion,

    Not sure it’s the right forum but I cant help to try.
    I accidently delete the Recovery Partition in my Surface Pro 2 recently and now, the OS crashed, couldnt re-install Window 8.0 as well. Could you please advice:
    Where can I get the link to download the recovery image for Surface Pro 2 (since I’m in Vietnam and there’s no Microsoft store here)?

    • You’re pretty much out of luck getting ahold of one then unless you travel to a place with SPs on display that you can then grab one off of. Good luck!

  30. I just wanted to congratulate you on the huge amount of work you’ve done here. I got here from XDA Developers, just looking around – nothing special.
    Without people like you, lots of SP owners would find themselves with broken devices and enormous repair bills.

    I have been involved with computing for over 25 years and it’s this form of collaboration which has turned the web into a global resource where nobody is ever alone and there seems to be useful help and advice on every subject.

    A day ago I was looking for information about whether or not a USB recovery device would re-install the recovery partition after I had deleted it on creating that recovery. The answer is (as you probably know) ‘yes, it does’.

    It’s web sites like this one (and, of course XDA Developers) that should be the first stop for all of us who can’t help peering further into the depths of these devices.

  31. First off nice article.

    I have “factory” reset my Surface Pro 3 times so far due to self-induced viruses and MS tech support errors. Can you confirm what I suspect? When SP is updated from 8.0 to 8.1 is the recovery image also updated to 8.1? After my last MS tech support caused SP crash, I tried to use my old 8.0 USB recovery and the SP would not “recover.” I had to do a factory reset to 8.0 then update to 8.1 then reinstall an SP image I created of my SP in 8.1. I could not recover to 8.0 then install the 8.1 image. I had to take the extra step of upgrading to 8.1 before the image was recognized. I have since created a USB restore AFTER I updated to 8.1 but have not tested my assumption that the recovery image is also updated.

    Lastly, can you recommend a better method of imaging the SP to facilitate restoring both programs and data from image…. Acronis? other?

    • Correct. The recovery image does not update. This is the case for most devices 8.0 and above I believe. There are ways to script that update process and some OEMs likely do it but the SP1 is quickly being forgotten as a beta device along with its users so doubtful of any change in that regard.

      You should be able to run diskpart and alter/replace the WIM file if you want and modify the recovery process setup as well.

      Acronis is likely the best way but I don’t really use very many desktop programs anymore outside of Acrobat and Office 2013 and sync nearly everything needed with OneDrive so a full restore is not something I have needed. But Acronis is the name I hear a lot.

  32. im at the command: dism /image:c:\mount /add-driver /driver:c:\spdrivers /recurse

    I get this error: 0xc0000135

    An error occurred while attempting to start the serviceing process located at c:\mount.

  33. hey Adam,

    great tutorial. the Internets thank you!

    one question about numbering sections of the article. seems each section starts at 1.), but at various points, you refer to “steps 1-22″ or “steps 30-45″, but there are no steps labeled 22 or 30 or whatever. might be good to clean up the references for the masses out there.

    otherwise, very handy tutorial indeed!


  34. I have exactly the same problem, just bought a surface pro and the previous owner has deleted the recovery partition, so can I still use the above or have things changes with updates as this was last year? And are there any differences for me as I am in the UK?

    Thanks guys… love the surface btw the iPad air has been retired!! :)

    • The full recovery partition is not available at that link. That link will download the PE setup but no recovery partition. You can use that to reload Windows if you want.

  35. Thank you very much!!! It works great. I went to the Windows store in the mall and they wanted to send it out for a week for repair. This worked much better. Thank you again!!

  36. Just wondered if anyone has tried this process with the Surface Pro 3? I’m relatively happy with mine after about a month, but there seem to be a few little quirks that are mildly frustrating. Thinking that perhaps this might fix a lot, but not quite willing to take a chance on it yet.

    • Same here, my Pro 3 has wireless connectivity issues and some standby woes and I really wonder if I should reinstall it fresh.
      Maybe even use wimboot so I have more storage available (but this seems to be some additional work).

        • I used your technique to create a install version for windows 8.1 with update which I got from my MSDN subscription.

          And your description worked like charm! Of course I downloaded the sp3 driver pack and some other packages and dism already was installed on my system so I did not need to download that.

          Funny thing: My wireless problems came back as soon as I had installed Visual Studio 2013.4 – Hyper-V turned out to be the source of my problem, not the factory image of the Surface Pro 3.

          Well, at least I learned something. And now have a very fresh Pro3.

  37. Sounds like something I may want to attempt on my Surface Pro 3. However, this seems to have been written for the SP2.
    Has anyone done this on the SP3? Is there anything that needs to be done a bit differently?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Actually, for the SP1! Hah! Should be pretty much the same except the PE image may need some updating…

      There is no reason not to try as far as I know. Make a backup of your recovery image and give it a shot. See what happens!

  38. Bit of a problem, most of the driver downloads result in unexpected error: end of archive. Tried on Chrome and Firefox, same thing. The Drivers_complete zip does the same thing. Is this on my end or yours? It’s always the same files – the audio download works fine.

  39. Hi, i also plan to update my Surface pro as per your instructions. I would like to know after the fresh install how can i put the Recovery image on the Surface hard disk in another partition, so that the image sits in the Surface only and I dont need to look for USB recovery image for future restore. Thanks.

    • Setting a recovery image is a bit of a process and one I have not gone through setting up. There are a few guides out there. Bing is your friend (Bing tends to be better at finding Microsoft materials and documentation. Go figure!). It can be done but the easiest thing is likely to just stick it in OneDrive and use it when needed.

  40. Just wanted to update that MS has finally come around on the loss of recovery images. These recovery images are now downloadable from MS’s site, just like the install media was finally posted to their website. I had also moved my recovery images to a USB stick that I lost (in an attempt to reclaim space on my SP1) so was stuck. So glad that MS finally makes legitimate downloads of their software possible.

    The recovery image download asked me to login with my MS Live account and automatically detected my SP version. This should work for everyone (who has a legit SP):

    • This is correct. At my current job, we just deployed a SP3 and found that the recovery image could be downloaded easily if needed to restore the factory setup. Thanks MS. Slowly but surely they are coming around to the reality of their surroundings.

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