Remember last fall when the Windows RT 8.1 update rolled out and some upgraders from Windows RT 8.0 were having significant problems?
Those issues typically resulted in bricked Surface devices and it ultimately forced Microsoft to pull the update from the Windows Store for a period of time.
As an interim solution Microsoft posted a Windows RT 8.0 Recovery Image for Surface to help individuals recover their devices from the locked up and bricked state.
Soon afterwards Microsoft solved the issues with the Windows 8.1 RT upgrades and re-released the upgrade into the Windows Store and every one lived happily ever after. Well at least relating to not bricking their Surface RT’s during the Windows 8.1 upgrade process.
Surface (1st Gen RT) and Surface 2 (2nd Gen RT), just like Windows 8.1 on any x86/x64 computer, has a recovery partition that allows you to perform a complete reset of your Windows 8.1 device. Now this reset is different from the refresh option offered in Windows 8.1 on any device.
While refreshing your Windows 8.1 machine keeps your data intact along with installed Modern or Windows Store apps the reset option completely removes all traces of your current Windows 8.1 install and resets the device as if it just came out of the box.
Both of those processes use the Recovery Partition on your device or possibly an external USB drive if you moved your Recovery Partition off the devices hard drive and deleted the recovery partition to save some space.
So what happens if that partition or recovery USB drive becomes corrupted and your device is unable to complete the reset/refresh process?
You could end up forever stuck in a loop like my friend Jeremy Harris did today on his Surface RT:
— Jeremy Harris (@Fullmetal1986) May 22, 2014
For whatever reason his recovery files on an external USB drive had become corrupted and he could not complete his recovery/reset. He was convinced that his Surface RT was forever bricked and was facing a $200 tab to exchange it for a working unit since his device was out of warranty.
So what can be done about this if you find yourself in a similar situation?
Well remember that Surface RT 8.0 image that Microsoft provided last fall to help users recover their bricked Surface RT’s due to the 8.1 upgrade?
That image can save your device if it is not hardware related and you just have a corrupted recovery partition or external USB.
Now in the stories form last fall the link given to the Surface RT 8.0 Recovery Image was at the Microsoft Download Center and looked like this
If you were to click on that link today this is what you would see at the Microsoft Download Center:
Subsequent searches for anything relating to the recovery image come up blank.
So I expanded my search and found a link to a Surface RT 8.0 North America recovery image on the Softpedia website under their Windows>System>Back-Up and Recovery directory.
Initially I believed this download was coming directly from Softpedia and of course that caused me some concern for safety and security reasons however, it turns out they simply link to the download and do not host it.
In other words the recovery image comes directly from Microsoft and it is under a different link at the Microsoft Download Center than it was under last fall.
The direct download address for this Surface RT 8.0 Recovery Image is
By clicking that direct download link you will immediately be prompted to save the download on your local drive.
It is a 3.66GB zipped download and the archive contains the recovery image. There are no instructions included for how to create that recovery USB drive but my friend Mauro from Pureinfotech did a video that can walk you through that process.
Yes, it is a Windows 8.0 image and that means you have a year’s worth of Windows 8 updates to install (October 2012 to October 2013) and then the 8.1 upgrade from October 2013. After that you will then have all of the updates from between October 2013 and whatever date you used this recovery image.
It will certainly take some time to accomplish all of that but at least you will not have a bricked Surface RT and not have to spend $200 to get a replacement if you are out of warranty.
By the way, my friend Jeremy did something – he is not quite sure what he may have done – and his Surface RT started to reset and recover itself.
As you might imagine he is a happy camper now and gets to keep his Surface RT and his $200.
Hopefully this option will help you save a bricked Surface RT down the road.
NOTE: The recovery image download we link to is for Windows RT 8.0 which is the 1st generation Surface RT devices. It is not likely to work on Surface 2 since it is composed of new hardware. I am not aware of a downloadable recovery image for that device.