Creating a Windows RT Recovery USB Key

Posted: October 19, 2013 in Information, Surface RT, Windows8
Tags: , , ,

PLEASE NOTE: Now that Microsoft has released their officially supported fix I am no longer providing the download for the recovery drive. If you wish to keep a small recovery drive then repair your system using the instructions from Microsoft, then follow “Option 1″ to create a new small boot drive.

Microsoft have now released the Full Recovery Image for WinRT (3.7GB download). You can get it here http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/support/warranty-service-and-recovery/surface-rt-startup-error-0xc000000d?lc=1033 

It uses the same steps to complete the upgrade with the last part being to recreate the full recovery volume. Some news sites are saying the MS image will revert you to 8.0, it does not. It will complete the 8.1 upgrade and then the extra steps are to recreate the on-device recovery volume with the 8.0 image which only applies if you rollback sometime in the future.

COMMENT: I’ve also received confirmation that my approach works on a Japanese and other non-English language WindowsRT devices, which is good news as that’s not a test I could have done, and hadn’t even considered tbh. Also, While I refer to “Surface” because that’s what I have. these steps will also apply to any WindowsRT tablet device.

So something has gone horribly, horribly wrong. You do of course have the USB key you created shortly after setting up your Surface, don’t you?

Don’t worry, even though I do this sort of thing for a living, even I hadn’t created a recovery USB Key. Luckily for me though (or unlucky depending on how you look at these things), I have two Surface tablets. After the Win8.1 upgrade, one worked fine, the other suffered the Boot Configuration failure – http://kickthatcomputer.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/windows-rt-8-1-upgrade-fails-with-boot-configuration-error/

So here I’m going to describe the ways I’ve found to create your recovery USB key. Make sure to read to the end because you will most likely also need to recover your BitLocker encryption key as well (it’s like the complications never end!)

Option 1: Create a “proper” recovery USB Key with another tablet

  1. Find someone, or somewhere (e.g. local electronics retailer that sells Surface tablets) that has another Surface Tablet like yours
  2. Take a USB key (at least 512MB) and plug it in.
    1. The key will be wiped, so make sure there’s nothing on it you want
  3. Open the Search and look for “Recovery”
    1. You are looking for the “Create a recovery drive” program. It will be under “Settings”
  4. When the Create Recovery Wizard opens, UNTICK the option to copy the recovery partition from the PC and click Next
    1. This process will just create a small bootable recovery drive (about 250MB) rather than a full complete system recovery (about 3.5GB)
  5. Select the USB key you have plugged in
  6. Complete the wizard and remove your key

Option 2: Use the files from the recovery key that I’ve already created

UPDATE: I am NO LONGER offering my version of the boot disk, please refer to the Microsoft link at the start of the post. This section has been left here for archival reference only.

For this you will need another Windows PC. Anything XP, Win7, or Win8 should work. This option will work if you don’t have access to another Surface Tablet at all.

NOTE: You can create the USB recovery drive using ANY Windows computer running XP or above, (probably even Windows 95 OSR2!). You could possibly even do it on a Linux machine. You just need to be able to format the USB drive as FAT32 and extract .zip files! In fact, if you already have a FAT32 formatted key, you don’t even need to format it again, just need 250Mb of free space.

  1. Post a reply to this blog entry. Make sure to put your correct email address and I’ll email you a link to download the file from Skydrive (185MB)
    1. Don’t put your email address in the message itself
    2. I’m not entirely certain what limits I have on Skydrive, so I don’t want to make it completely public (sorry, but will change if Microsoft actually confirms it’s OK)
    3. Updated: Microsoft have released their “official” fix. It is basically the same steps, only using a full System recovery (3.7GB) instead of the small bootable drive option.
  2. Save it to your computer. Pay attention to where you saved it to
  3. Insert your USB key into your computer
  4. Format it as “FAT32″. Do NOT format as NTFS
    1. Actually, formatting optional, but highly recommended. As long as it’s already FAT32 and has more than 250MB free space
    2. Label it “RECOVERY” so it’s easier to recognise in future
    3. formatrecovery
  5. Now find that .zip file you downloaded, extract the contents and copy all of the files onto the newly formatted USB key
  6. That’s all! You now have a bootable USB recovery drive!

Recovering your drives BitLocker encryption key

When you use a USB Recovery drive that was created on a different device to your own surface tablet, it may not be able to read your drive because if enabled, Surface tablets use encryption to help protect the contents on your drive. This is way cool, but also complicates things when you need to do recovery stuff like this. Never fear though, Microsoft have thought of EVERYTHING. Well, except for the bug that crashed your Surface in the first place that is.

In my other blog post, when you select the option to open a “Command Prompt”, you might be presented with another message about needing to enter your encryption key. Here’s how you get that key.

WP_002395 (1024x768)

  1. Make a note of the “Key ID” mentioned on the Surface screen
  2. On another working computer, go to http://windows.microsoft.com/recoverykey
  3. Find the device with the same Key ID noted above
  4. The Recovery key listed underneath is what you type to unlock the encrypted drive on your Surface

Additional comment: Trust

Interestingly enough, the question of “why should I trust this file you are asking me to download?” has only been asked by one person. While I personally believe myself to be an ethical and trustworthy person, there is no reason for you to trust me. I’m just some guy on the internet asking you to download and run something on your computer. The question of “trust” is a tricky thing on the internet isn’t it.

I’ve had multiple confirmations of this fix working, so I know it works, but at the end of the day you have to make the decision yourself. Do you trust me enough to help you fix this? You are of course welcome to return it to Microsoft who will fix (or likely replace) it for you.

The files I am providing are a copy of the WinPE recovery drive that you would get if you followed my “Option 1″. Nothing more, nothing less. There’s nothing magical about what I’m providing other than the not so obvious steps of how to apply the fix.

Trust on the internet is tricky, and I won’t be offended in the slightest if you choose to question my authenticity.

BTW – I have a blog post coming about an adventure I had playing with a “Microsoft Support Centre” last night while I was responding to people with this issue. It was of course a scam (http://www.snopes.com/fraud/telephone/microsoft.asp)

But more on that later… :)

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Comments
  1. Reto says:

    Can i get download link or copy of recovery files please? Thank you so mutch

  2. patrick devergne says:

    send me please the link to your recovery key for surface RT!
    thanks a lot

  3. Bobby says:

    send me please the skydrive-link to your USB recovery for surface RT!
    thanks a lot

    • Scott says:

      I’m not providing my download anymore now that Microsoft has offered one. Their steps are the same to recover the machine as mine, so I would recommend using their official solution. The link to the Microsoft download and instructions is linked at the top of my blog post.

  4. Tojootti says:

    Hi!

    Can i get download link of recovery files, please?

    • Scott says:

      I’m not providing my link anymore now that Microsoft has an official solution. Their steps are the same as mine. You can see a link to their download and instructions at the top of my blog post

  5. Tony Fayte says:

    I saw that there’s a fix available from Microsoft now. I would still like to receive yours, if it’s still available.

    • Scott says:

      The Microsoft one is the same as mine, created the same way, only they have the full system image included which makes their download larger. The boot files part is exactly the same though.
      It would be a good idea to get the official Microsoft download as then you will also have a full system restore image available if you need it in the future.

  6. geert says:

    Can i also get an link for the recovery key?
    My litle sister has no virus scanner… and got this problem.

    • Scott says:

      Windows 8 comes with a virus scanner enabled by default (defender) and it is unlikely this issue would be caused by a virus. Also, I’m of aware of any viruses that even run on ARM based Windows RT (will go and check that though)
      If you do have exactly the same error code then you can download the Microsoft recovery image linked at the top of my post to try fixing it and see if that helps at all.

  7. ram says:

    can get the link for download pleas?

  8. LC says:

    Zip file please and thank you!

  9. Dave says:

    Hey there can I get the zip file please

  10. Fariea says:

    please give me the link to d.load file as soon as possible because I’m having huge problem with it and hope u can help me out. Thanks anyway :)

  11. Scott says:

    You can download the recover image directly from Microsoft using the link posted at the top of the blog post.

  12. Gary says:

    Hi I would like to download the image you have Please

  13. God says:

    Thanks for posting the link to the Microsoft RT recovery image at the top of the post, Scott. I think I’ll actually read your post and click on that, rather than bothering you for a copy of your home-brewed version.

    As everybody else has completely and utterly failed to do. :P

    • Scott says:

      Thanks,

      I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt as many seem to be using web translators to read the page so may not get the full context.

      (I thought you would have already known the answer anyway without needing to read my blog ;) )

  14. alex pereda says:

    Great post!!! May I please have the link?

  15. Alessandra says:

    dear Scott :
    my boss try to download windows 8.1 for some reason the download was not successful
    when he reboot the computer he lost all his data … files , programs like quick books excel… what can we do ?

    • Scott says:

      Is this for a laptop/desktop or for a Windows RT tablet? Did he download from the App store or was it a download from Technet or other Microsoft location?
      If he was doing it from the app store download then nothing should have changed if the download failed. If the install itself failed then it will depend on what error messages you have. Usually it will just revert back to the previous version if it fails.
      As long as you didn’t do a manual install using a DVD of the Windows media and select the option to format the drive then all the data should still be there.
      Worse case you need to use a bootable USB key to access the files and copy them to another drive before attempting a new install. Sometimes starting a new install over the top of the existing one just acts as a refresh and it all starts working again, but if you copy off the files first then that’s always best just in case
      Overall though, it really depends on what upgrade method was used, and what the actual error or failure is.

  16. Alessandra says:

    Dear Scott thanks for yous answer ! is a desktop windows 8.0 , he download from the App store …
    after “finished” the show the follow :” error pc restart,” he try all options but none worked, then he decided to disconnect the computer and forced to start when he did that he had to placed the email address and password…. when the computer opened all disappeared, all documents and all programs, outlook, quick-books, excel, word etc. How we can recovery the data ?

    Thanks for your help

    • Scott says:

      Are you sure his data is actually gone? It sounds more likely that when he logged into the upgraded computer it created a new user profile. Try looking in C:\Users to see if there is another folder there for another user profile. If there is then look in that to see if there is a Documents folder with his files.
      The missing applications you can check for by looking in the C:\Program Files and C:\Program Files(x86) folders to see if they appear there at all. If they do, then try going to the Windows Start Page and just start typing the name of one of the programs to see if it appears. You can also click the small down arrow that appears on the bottom left of the Start screen to show all the installed programs. It may be that they are still installed, but just aren’t appearing as shortcuts if a new user profile has been created.

  17. luis1banez says:

    Hey Scott, I have a Windows 8 Laptop with this problem. I am typing from my Windows 7 Desktop. I clicked the link from microsoft and it says the download has retired. I was wondering if you can give me your file/link possibly? If not, is it possible to create a recovery usb key from my windows 7? I tried reading your post but I’m not following all the details. Thanks for replying

    • Scott says:

      That download (or mine) won’t work for a laptop anyway, it’s only for Windows RT version devices.
      If you have a Win8 DVD then you can boot to that, but you should also be able to create a bootable USB key using your Win7 machine. I’ll have to look later, but I think the option to create a key is the same by just searching for the create a recovery drive.

      • luis1banez says:

        So is it possible to create a recovery disc on my Windows 7? WIll that be sufficient to get my laptop working would you think>

        • Scott says:

          It depends what the problem with your laptop is. If you have the original Windows install DVD then you can just use that to do a repair. If you are able to boot into Windows, or have access to another computer then you can create a recovery DVD that might help. Again though, it really depends what your problem is.
          To create a recovery disc in Windows 7, you can click the Start button and type “create” and it should give you the option to create a recovery disc. In Win7 you can only create a DVD, not a USB key with the default tool.

  18. Dana Brown says:

    Hey Scott, I know I will sound like everyone else in this post asking for the zip file but I do have a reason for this. I read your post and went straight to Microsoft and the link. Well , low and behold, it is not there anymore. I tried searching all over the internet to see if maybe someone else had a copy of it out there that I could get but I could not find one. So, I thought that I would take my chances with you. I know you said that you were not posting it but I thought maybe you would put it up again since they are not giving it out anymore. Thank you for your patience once again. And also thank you for all of your posts that you do give us.

    • Scott says:

      I’ve just learned as well that MS have pulled that download. I can’t find any updated reference to an 8.1 version either.
      I’ve sent you a link to my download anyway, but you haven’t mentioned what you are using it for. It will only work for a Windows RT tablet.

  19. RJJS says:

    Scott, Can you please send me the link to the zip file since Microsoft has removed the download from their website? Thanks.

  20. Ilona says:

    Can you please email me the link to download the file from Skydrive?
    Thank you so much.
    I really hope it works!

  21. Josiah Heng says:

    Dude, I read your blog posts on restoring an AD DC even after it was shutdown for a long time and long past the 60-day “tombstone” period. You must be one serious, hardcore MCSE engineer. I personally never dared pull off something like this, most of the time I’ll just rebuild a new domain from scratch and use ProWiz tools to move users to the new domain. It’s cleaner & easier. But props to you for what you’ve done. I hope you are well on your way to being a Microsoft MVP! :)

    • Scott says:

      Thanks. No, I don’t consider myself to be hard core at all, I’ve just been doing this for a long time.
      I tend to work with large clients, so just building a new domain isn’t an option, and even though my home environment is small, doing that would lose all my Exchange and Certificate Authority information which was really what I wanted most to recover.
      As for MVP, maybe one day, but it’s not something I’ve particularly set for myself as a goal.

  22. Alan says:

    Can you email me the link to download the file from Skydrive please.
    Thanking you in advance :)

    • Scott says:

      Hi Alan, this really shouldn’t be an issue anymore, but my post has the link to the official Microsoft download now. What’s the problem you are having?

  23. Skinner says:

    Please send my image

  24. Skinner says:

    I have downloaded the official image but when I extract it the .wim files dont extract. I’m using winzip and 7zip to extract, do I need specific software?

    • Scott says:

      No, the built-in zip support in Windows Explorer is all you need. If you still can’t open it then confirm that the file has downloaded completely. It may be you have a corrupt download.
      If you are using a 3rd party “download manager” try the download again without using it and just use the browsers default download system.

  25. Juliano Garcia says:

    Send the file,please..

  26. jeff says:

    please send link for quick USB boot

    • Scott says:

      I’m don’t have that on offer anymore, the Microsoft recovery image is now available. You can find the link at the top of the post.

  27. Dona Schnider says:

    Scott I have read you post and I wont ask for the file, lol but I would like to ask, if this file would also fix the same issue but with a different code ; 0xc0000034? This issue is on a desktop not a laptop. I downloaded 8.1 to upgrade from 8 on a Dell XP8500. I called support, the concierge with Costco, we tried for an hour to almost do everything. I DO NOT have a recovery CD, but I should have the partition from the original restore. They told me I could not use a different computer or l;aptop or USB drive to try and fix. I am able to unplug the hard drive and restart with a different Windows CD (7) and install the recovery files, then after installed I plug in the hard drive. I have even gotten so far as to get that the boot file has been fixed and saved on the computer but at the end it was not able to save. Would you have any other ideas for this? I am so disappointed that Windows has put this kind of software out for there customer to us.
    Dona

    • Scott says:

      No, my boot file wouldn’t work anyway, it’s only for the ARM/SurfaceRT version of Windows.

      Without knowing exactly what you have already done, it’s hard to say what might work. You certainly could use another Windows 8 computer to create a recovery disk, especially if it is the same model computer. Using a Windows 7 CD though to repair the boot image might be an issue, and it could just cause more problems.
      If you can get a Windows 8 DVD, or create on from another computer then that is the best place to start.
      This post: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_8-system/error-0xc0000034-for-windows-8-after-hibernation/61b726e4-089f-4be4-bb28-ee3bda23f62d is the first one I found with this error code, and the solution is basically the same approach of re-creating the BCD.
      Other than that, I could only suggest seeing if you can get a Win8 DVD from somewhere and doing an install over the top. If should recognise the Windows install already there and either “upgrade” it of make a copy of it before doing a fresh install. That should also keep your data if you haven’t been able to copy it off before hand.

  28. lace says:

    I have a gateway Acer PC running windows 8.1 it suddenly crashed and now it wont reboot. Tried to reboot with recovery disc and also tried system restore, ect. It says missing file c:/windows/system32/logfilesrt/srttrail.txt I need help please!!

  29. Anna says:

    I am trying to create a windows vista recovery disk for my laptop that won’t boot, but my desktop PC runs on windows xp…. is it possible to make the vista disk using an xp?

    • Scott says:

      While it is possible to create a bootable floppy disk using XP, you won’t be able to create a recover disk for Vista with it. An XP boot disk might allow you to copy off any data or other files you have as a last resort, but is unlikely to allow you to recover or repair the system.
      If you have any disks from the manufacturer that you got with the computer there may be something among them that can help. If you can find a person with a Vista/Win7/Win8 computer then they could create a disk that might be able to repair the boot files enough to get back into Vista.
      You will need to find a copy of Vista though to do a proper repair. Alternatively if you are feeling brave enough, buying a copy of Win8 and running the install from that should detect the existing Vista install and files and make a backup copy of them for you when it install.

  30. Jonathan says:

    Hi
    I bought a Lenovo Yoga 11 yesterday. On first (attempted) startup I got the message “Windows could not complete the installation. To install Windows on this computer, restart the installation”. The guys I bought it from are an online bunch of idiots who say they can’t help. Your 250mb boot file seems to be what I need. Can you help? Please

    • Scott says:

      I’m afraid not. The Yoga should be running a full version of Windows 8 so the boot image from Microsoft won’t help you here.

      If you just bought it yesterday and it didn’t work from the moment you turned it on then of course the shop you bought it from are required to replace it.

  31. Yonaldy says:

    Is this solution only for the Surface?
    I’m having the same problem with my Aspire R7 and want to know if the exact same process will work. Sorry if it’s a stupid question; I’m not very knowledgeable on this subject.

    • Scott says:

      You won’t be able to use the recover image I linked to because that is specifically for Surface RT, but if you can get access to another windows8 laptop then the same steps can be used.

  32. alis says:

    Hi Scott, I have Surface RT that is stuck on Surface Logo at boot time. I have tried repeated power-on-off cycles. MS warranty wants $220 to get it fixed. Any idea if the refresh/recovery disk would work? I already had Window 8.1 running on it. Technically, I am not getting Error code: 0xc000000d. I am downloading the image from MS site; I wish I had link to your image which would fit my usb thumb drive. I’ll try to use an external usb drive once the download completes.

    • Scott says:

      the power cycles you are doing are holding the power button down for longer than 4 seconds? Anything less will most likely just be putting it to sleep and waking it up again.
      The Microsoft recovery image is what you will need to do a refresh of the tablet anyway. If you get really stuck I’ll see if I still have a copy of the boot image around which *might* allow you to start it and do a restore from the recovery partition on your machine, but that will depend on if the recovery partition still exists on your machine in the first place.
      The Microsoft download is still your best option, and you should be able to fit it on an 8GB USB key which are pretty cheap now.

      • alis says:

        I got the USB recovery key with the image from the Microsoft link. Inserted the usb key, powered-off the Surface. Pressing (-) volume buttom and releasing it when Surface logo appears. However, it made no difference. I am suspecting the instructions here work only for the problem with error code 0xc000000d. Am I missing any step?

        • Scott says:

          What happened after the logo appeared? If nothing else happened then my first guess is it didn’t actually boot to the USB key. If your USB key has a light on it to indicate when it is being used then check to see if it is flashing while the Surface starts up. You might also want to reformat the usb key and create it again, or even try another key. Quite a few people have found they had old faulty keys doing this.

          While the specific steps I address are to fix boot corruption issues, the recovery image you downloaded from Microsoft can also be used to do a full restore/repair of Windows as well. Assuming there isn’t some other serious hardware failure of course.

  33. Jon B says:

    i have made a recovery disk using the microsoft link but cannot make the surface boot from it despite following instructions (vol down etc) anybody able to help

    • Scott says:

      What happens/ what do you see when you try to boot with the USB key? Does your USB key have an activity light the shows when it is being accessed? If so then you should see it blinking for a while during the boot process. If it doesn’t blink at all (or for very long) then a couple of things: 1. Check you have done a full shutdown of the tablet (hold power for greater than 5 seconds), 2. Check you pressing the correct buttons when starting it up again, 3. Try reformatting the USB key and copying the boot files again, 4. Try another USB key.

  34. mikd says:

    I have a Pavilion 21 and just recieved this Boot Configuration Error. I do not have a backup disk or usb drive. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Should I buy the recovery disk from amazon? Should I call microsoft or hp as it hasnt even been a year? Email me

    • Scott says:

      If you can get access to another Windows 8 computer then you should be able to create a boot USB key on that which will work with your pavilion to do the same recovery steps.
      If you don’t have any luck there, then I would think HP or the store you purchased it from would be the next best place for help.

      There is no such thing as a “recovery disk” that you could buy from Amazon or anywhere else as far as I am aware, so if you have found such a thing I would think it is unlikely to be legitimate. At best it would be a full DVD copy of Windows 8, which may or may not be an original copy. Caution is advised.

  35. Dima says:

    Hello!
    Could you please give me the boot file for Windows 8 (regular laptop, not RT version)? I was downloading the update suggested by Windows and now my computer is not downloading at all. The message I have on my screen is “Recovery, Your PC need to be repaired. The Boot Configuration Data file is missing some required information. Error code 0xc0000034″

    • Dima says:

      I mean the computer is not booting at all.

      • Scott says:

        Hi Dima,

        I haven’t created a boot disk for the full Win8 versions, but if you have access to another machine you should be able to create one using that.
        I haven’t experienced the problem from the recent updates myself so I’m not able to test a fix that might work… right now I don’t think I can help.
        If I get some time later, then I’ll see if I can get something to test and put up a post about it.

  36. Andrei Elvis says:

    I need the download!!

  37. Bonnie Rivenburg says:

    I am working on a gateway e series model sx2110g desktop computer. I am getting this message
    The Windows Boot Configuration Data file is missing required information”.
    UEFI FIRMWARE
    bcd
    ec oxc0000034
    Press escape to go to settings. However, I do have a recovery disk and the system is not seeing it.
    I can get to the bios and that is it. Can’t boot safe mode (if there is one in 8). Do you have any suggestions. I am not a w8 user and don’t want to be after reading all this stuff. Thanks Bonnie

    • Scott says:

      If you can get into the bios then see if there is a section for “device boot order” and put the CD\USB at the top of the list, that should help it boot more easily to the recovery disk.
      As for “this stuff” being a reason not to use Windows 8, I guess that’s just a personal choice, but there’s nothing about these sorts of issues that are in any way unique to Windows 8.

      • Bonnie Rivenburg says:

        I have already changed the boot order to cd but it would not boot to the cd. Is there a place I can download to a usb drive and try that.

        • Scott says:

          I don’t think Microsoft would have a recovery download for the full Windows version, but you can create one from another Win8 computer. Just go to the Start screen and type “recovery” and the first option that should appear is to create a recovery disk.

  38. Bonnie Rivenburg says:

    Thanks, I just tried that and no go. I changed the Bios to to usb drive but it just sits there with that silly screen. Walmart Special e machine. Thanks for all the input and advise. Guess I better not
    quit my day job.

  39. ahmed saoud says:

    can i have this link please :D

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