Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Unbricking a Surface Pro 3

I ran into a problem this week where we had a group of Surface Pro 3's that needed to be prepared for our network.  By mistake one of our staff (*cough* me) tried our normal image on the device and in the attempt to recover the staff member (me again) ended up turning the surface pro into an expensive paper weight.

All I was able to get the thing to do was power on to a BIOS screen.  Apparently in the process of "fixing" it I deleted or corrupted the partitions (including the recovery partition).

While looking for a recovery image, Microsoft's support site.. well it is garbage and would not allow me to download the recovery image.  On top of that their contact information either is not accurate or just does not work.

Eventually I realized.. I got 12 of these things here.  (all but 2 setup correctly) why don't I just create an image from that recovery drive.  Turns out Windows 8.x on the Surface Pros has built in utilities to create a USB Image from that partition! SWEET!

I ran the utility, rebooted in recovery mode did the full reset and in the next hour I was back to factory specs.

Later this week I will update this post with a link to download the image.  It is rather large and i'll need to find a place to put it.

To create the image I used the USB Image Tool from Alex's coding playground but I think you should be able to just copy the files over to a FAT32 formatted 8GB+ USB Drive.

To boot to the USB Recovery menu:

  1. Turn off power to the Surface Pro.
  2. Insert your USB Recovery drive
  3. Push and Hold Volume down.
  4. Tap the Power button to Turn the Surface Pro
  5. Once the 'Surface' logo (just the word Surface) displays on the screen.  Let go of the Volume down button.
  6. Follow the on screen instructions for a full Reset

Again Link for USB Recovery image should be available sometime this week.

I hope this helps someone.

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