How to use recovery image to fix Surface Duo

Surface Duo won't start or is acting up? In this guide, you'll learn the steps to use the recovery image to restore the device to its working condition.

Surface Duo recovery (source: Microsoft)
Surface Duo recovery (source: Microsoft)

If Surface Duo won’t start after several tries or you’re noticing problems, then you may need to recover the device to fix virtually any issue by downloading and installing the recovery image.

Surface Duo is a pocketable device with two screens running Android, which brings together the Microsoft 365 services, the familiarity of Windows 10, and the full library of Android mobile apps to make you more productive on the go. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor with 6GB of memory and up to 256GB of storage, and you can get it now in the United States for $1399 at the Microsoft Store.

It’s important to note that when you install the recovery image, you will lose all your information, including apps, files, and settings. You’ll need to set up the Surface Duo all over again and reinstall all the applications.

In this guide, you’ll learn the recommended steps to use the recovery image to restore your Surface Duo to its original working condition to fix boot and other problems.


Before proceeding with the recovery, you’ll need:

  • Surface Duo charged to at least 40 percent.
  • USB-C cable to connect the device with your PC.
  • Computer running Windows 10.

If your computer does not have a USB-C port, you may need to purchase a  USB-C to USB-A adapter. Also, while a Windows 10 device is recommended for the recovery process, you can also use a computer using macOS or Linux.

Recover Surface Duo with recovery image

The recovery process of a Surface Duo requires a few steps and tools. You first need to download and install the Android SDK Platform Tools on your computer. Second you’ll need to download a recovery image from the Microsoft support website. You then have to put the Duo into recovery mode, and then you’ll need to install the recovery image.

Install Android SDK Platform Tools

To download and install the Android SDK Platform Tools on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Android website.

  2. Under the “Downloads” section, click the Download SDK Platform-Tools for Windows to download the package.

  3. Right-click the .zip file you downloaded, select the Extract All option, choose a folder to extract the files to, and then select the Extract option.

  4. Confirm the folder name because you’ll need to know it for the next set of instructions.

Once you complete the steps, you can proceed to download the Surface Duo recovery image.

Download Surface Duo recovery image

To download the Surface Duo recovery image, use these steps:

  1. Open Surface Duo recovery image page.

  2. Under the Select your Surface device section, sign in with your Microsoft account.

  3. Use the “Products” drop-down menu and select the Surface Duo option.

  4. Confirm the device serial number.

  5. Click the Continue button.

  6. Download the recovery image .zip file. (Save it to the same folder as the files for the Android SDK Platform Tools.)

After you complete the steps, you need to start the device in recovery mode with the following instructions.

Start Surface Duo recovery mode

To put your Surface Duo into recovery mode, use these steps:

  1. Unplug the USB cable from the Surface Duo if connected to the computer.

  2. On your Surface Duo, press and hold the Power button, then tap Power Off.

    Quick note: If you’re prompted to reboot to safe mode, select Cancel, and repeat this step.
  3. After your Surface Duo is powered off, press and hold the Volume down button, then press and release the Power button. Continue to hold down the Volume down button.

  4. After a menu appears, release the Volume down button.

  5. Press and release the Volume down button to change the menu. (The menu you want to appear is Recovery mode.)

  6. Press and release the Power button to select the Recovery mode option.

  7. On the screen that shows a small robot lying down, press and hold the Power button, then press and release the Volume up button. Release the Power button.

  8. On the Android Recovery screen, press and release the Volume up or Volume down button to change the menu.

  9. Select the Apply update from ADB option, then press and release the Power button.

  10. Plug the USB cable into both the Surface Duo and Windows 10 computer.

Once you complete the steps, the Duo will be ready to receive the recovery image to install the custom version of Android.

Install recovery image on Surface Duo

To recover your Surface Duo with the recovery image to fix problems, use these steps:

  1. On Windows 10, open Start.

  2. Search for cmd and select the top result to open Command Prompt.

  3. Type the following command to move the drive and folder name for the Android SDK Platform tools you previously saved:

    For example, if you saved the Platform Tools in c:\Recovery Image\platform-tools, you would type: 

    cd c:\Recovery Image\platform-tools
  4. Type the following command to start the Surface Duo recovery process using the image and press Enter:

    adb sideload
    Quick note: In the command, make sure to update the “” name for the name of the Surface Duo recovery image folder. The recovery image will take about 10 minutes or so to install.
  5. After the recovery image is installed, disconnect the USB cable from your Surface Duo when the Android Recovery screen appears. 

  6. On your Surface Duo, press and release the Volume up or Volume down button to change the menu.

  7. When the Reboot system now option is selected, press and release the Power button to reboot your Surface Duo.

After you complete the steps, the Surface Duo should start working again, and then you’ll need to go through the setup process followed by reinstalling all your apps.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].