Windows 10 Mobile: How to roll back to Windows Phone 8.1

Going back to a safer version of the operating system.

Rollback Windows Phone 8.1 from Windows 10 fo phones

You probably installed a new preview of Windows 10 Mobile and you’re now regretting it, because of the many bugs and issues surrounding the piece of beta software. Luckily, for you, Microsoft provides a way to rollback to Windows Phone 8.1 using the “Windows Device Recovery Tool”.

Interesting enough it’s not a recovery tool you install in the phone to bring you back to Windows Phone 8.1. Instead, it’s a tool that you need to download and install in your Windows PC that will help you get back to the previous version of the operating system.

Before you begin

  • Make sure your phone is fully charge.
  • Make sure to backup your phone settings, apps, and data as the recovery tool to rollback to the previous version of Windows Phone will wipe your handset clean.

Roll back to Windows Phone 8.1

  1. Download and install the Windows Device Recovery Tool.

  2. Connect your phone and let the recovery tool detect your phone. If your phone isn’t detected, click My phone was not detected to force the tool to detect your phone.

    Windows Phone Recovery Tool

    Quick Tip: Make sure you’re using a good USB cable, this could be the reason why your phone keep disconnecting and causing the process to fail. Also if the recovery tool doesn’t detect your phone, while the phone still plugged in, press and hold the Power and Volume down keys simultaneously. Release the pressed keys when phone vibrates.
  3. Click your phone, wait a few moments, and the phone information will be display along with the information of the software available in the Microsoft servers to rollback. Click Reinstall software.

    Windows Phone image download options

  4. Make sure to backup all your data, settings, and apps before moving forward and click Continue.

    Windows Phone backup warning

  5. Now the image of Windows Phone 8.1 will download, before pushing it into the phone.

    Downloading Windows Phone 8.1 for recovery

  6. Your phone will turn off automatically and the rollback process will begin. After a few minutes, you’ll get an message in the recovery tool that reads “Operation successfully completed”.

    Rollback from Windows 10 for phones to Windows Phone 8.1 success

Your phone now should start with the Out-of-Box-Experience. Now, simply complete the process, sign-in with your Microsoft account, choose whether to restore your phone from backup (recommended). After the restore process completes, your phone should be back to Windows Phone 8.1.

Microsoft recommends that older Lumia and other Nokia phones use the Lumia Software Recovery Tool and follow the on-screen instructions.

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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].