Surface RT: Creating a USB Recovery Drive for your new tablet (Step-by-Step)

Backup Windows RT Surface

Surface is now one of the must have gadget today. This Microsoft branded tablet runs on Windows RT, which is a toned-down version of the latest operating system. It looks pretty much like Windows 8, however it has some noticeable differences.

For instance one of the biggest differences between Windows RT and Windows 8, is that RT do not support traditional Windows programs (iTunes, Photoshop, VMware, Filezilla, etc. — you get the point.), even though it includes the Windows 8 Desktop. And as this new variant operating system is not the kind of software anyone will be buying from any outlet by itself, there is not a Windows RT DVD installation or recovery media.

By now we all know that computers are doomed to fail, no one knows when, but is going to happen. Now questions to answer are: How can you prepare when, for example, your new Surface RT fails or there are missing or corrupted system files? Or what is going to happen when the system will just not boot? In these cases what someone should do is to always have a backup in place and create a Recovery media using a USB drive to save the RT installation files. To create a USB Recovery Drive for a Microsoft Surface with Windows RT, simply use the step-by-step guide below:


1. Plug a USB flash drive with at least 4GB of free space to your Surface.

2. While in the Windows Desktop, open the Windows Explorer and from the menu on the right, click Desktop and tap Control Panel.

3. From the Control Panel, tap System and Security and then tap File History.

4. Next, in the bottom-left corner of the window, tap Recovery, and then tap Create a Recovery Drive.

Recovery Drive for Windows RT

The recovery wizard will launch and guide through, then it will copy the Surface’s recovery partition to the external drive.


In the event that your tablet will not boot, use these steps to boot from the newly Recovery Drive:

Warning: Be advised that following these instructions will reset Surface RT to the factory settings, which means that all the data and setting currently in the tablet will be wiped out! Proceed with caution.

1. Shut down the tablet and insert the USB recovery media.

2. While holding down the Volume Down switch, press and release the Surface with Windows RT Start button.

After a few moments, the tablet will start and loads the recovery media, displaying the screen below.

USB recovery media

Follow the onscreen instructions to reset your Surface tablet.

These are not the kind of instructions anyone wants to be using on a regular basis, but they are good to know to be prepared if something wrong were to happen and you end up with a tablet that does not boot properly.

Source Andy Rathbone

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 14 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 20 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].