Increase Storage Space with a Surface Pro Recovery USB Stick

The Surface Pro is Microsoft’s hot new “hybrid” mobile device. I put hybrid in quotes because the Surface Pro is really not a tablet nor is it an ultrabook — in fact, many consider it the best of both worlds. One of the traits it shares with tablets is the fixed on-board storage. The Surface Pro currently comes with either 64GB or 128GB.

Unfortunately, after you subtract the space used by Windows 8, along with that used by the hidden recovery image, the reality is quite different. For instance, fresh out of the box my shiny new Surface Pro only had 29.8GB available on the C:\ drive!

In this article, I’ll show you how to get around this problem by creating more storage space on your Surface Pro with a recovery USB stick.

Surface pro USB Free Disk Space

Ain’t that a shame: My shiny new Surface Pro had only 29.8GB available out of the box.

We aren’t totally helpless in our fight to get more usable on-board storage space. One technique with a nice bang for the buck is to move the recovery partition off of the Surface Pro and onto a USB stick. In my case, by taking advantage of this process, I jumped from 29.8GB all the way up to 37.4GB of free space. Of course, recovery information is critical if you ever want to set your Surface Pro back to that nice, clean out-of-the-box state, so make sure you don’t lose the USB stick!

Creating a Recovery USB stick

Begin by plugging a 16GB or larger USB stick into the Surface Pro. Also make sure that the Surface Pro is plugged into AC power. I don’t recommend trying this process while running on battery. Trust me, the Surface Pro shutting off randomly because the battery runs out will not result in a happy experience.

I guess I should get the fine print out of the way before going any further: All data on the flash drive will be erased so please, don’t accidentally use the drive storing pictures from the last family vacation. I’m intentionally going to repeat my earlier warning that the recovery information is the only way to restore the Surface Pro to its original condition. So please don’t lose the USB flash drive you use! Now on with the fun!

From the Windows 8 Start screen, swipe in from the right to pull up the Charms Bar.

Tap the Search Charm and type recovery.

Then tap on Settings and Create a recovery drive in the results list.


Surface pro USB Search Charm

When prompted, click Yes to allow the Recovery Drive tool to open.

After the tool opens, verify that Copy the recovery partition from the PC to the recovery drive is checked.

Tap Next and wait while the tool scans for drives.

surface pro usb Select Copy

In the displayed list, pick the USB drive to use and tap Next.

Surface pro usb Pick USB Drive


Click Create then sit back and relax while the recovery image and required tools are copied to the selected USB drive. In most cases the process should take between 15 and 20 minutes.

After the recovery information has been copied, click Delete the recovery partition.

To confirm removal of the recovery information from the Surface Pro, click Delete. Once the removal is complete, tap Finish and enjoy all the extra free space you just created on your Surface Pro!

surface pro usb OoB Free Disk Space after Recovery Partition

Remember to eject, remove, and store away the USB drive. Don’t lose it or store other files on it.

I’ve no doubt the Surface Pro with its ability to run all the existing Windows 7 and Windows 8 apps will be much more popular than the Surface RT. Unfortunately, apps take space and the Surface Pro isn’t exactly overflowing with it. Moving the hidden recovery information off of the Surface Pro and onto a USB drive is a quick, easy, and painless way to gain a few gigs of space that can immediately be put to better use!