Surface Pro 4 factory reset gets stuck at 7% (or 31%)

Nuke your Surface’ system disk with diskpart
February 9, 2016 by Michael

If you reset your Microsoft Surface Pro 4 to factory defaults for whatever reasons you might end up like me: In an endless boot loop or the reset process being stuck at 7% (or, if you choose to erase everything, at 31%), this solution worked for me:

  • Download the recovery image for your device and create an USB stick like described
  • Use it to boot your surface (press volume down, hold it, than power on)
  • Maybe the official way described here works for your. For me, it didn’t.
  • Instead i used “Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt.”. Start “diskpart”, enter “select disk system” and nuke your system drive with a “clean”
  • After that, you can reset and restore your device via the disk method which works for me at the point of writing

I needed to reset my Surface because i bound it to the wrong account. Happens. But i wonder how an average user would react to such a bad first experience. Even i was totally disappointed, which is sad, because the hardware really feels fabulous and the promise to run pretty much anything on this thing is great.

26 comments

  1. Mei wrote:

    what do you mean for “disk method” in the last step? I have the same issue as you. Thanks!

    Posted on February 19, 2016 at 5:55 PM | Permalink
  2. Michael wrote:

    Hi Mei,

    that would be “System Image Recovery” , see here.

    At least that did the trick for me after wiping out the whole drive with dispart. At first try the setup complained but then worked.

    Posted on February 19, 2016 at 8:34 PM | Permalink
  3. WindowsPro wrote:

    I had the same issue with SP4. But I found in some other forum to remove the keyboard. I did so and the reset process continued.

    Posted on March 6, 2016 at 11:02 AM | Permalink
  4. jon_flow wrote:

    Hi all,

    it worked well exactely the way Michael described, thanks a lot!
    We had the Type Cover keyboard removed as WindowsPro suggested.
    The “official” description from Microsoft did not work so we “nuked” the drive and proceeded as described here.

    Thanks 🙂

    Posted on March 21, 2016 at 6:03 PM | Permalink
  5. Michael wrote:

    Hi Jon, happy to hear! Thanks for your feedback!

    Posted on March 22, 2016 at 8:28 AM | Permalink
  6. Lars wrote:

    Hi.
    I’m unable to download the recovery image. The download interrupts app. halfway through and cannot be restarted.

    Anyone had that problem?

    Posted on March 30, 2016 at 11:26 AM | Permalink
  7. David wrote:

    Works for me.

    Thanks so much
    David

    Posted on April 11, 2016 at 11:41 AM | Permalink
  8. Mazzaks wrote:

    I have exactly the same problem. Does the solution described here rewrite the restore image to the Surface disk for future resets, or just rebuild the Windows 10 system?

    Posted on April 23, 2016 at 5:26 PM | Permalink
  9. Michael wrote:

    Hi Mazzak,

    i’m reluctant to try this, but my guess is, it does.

    Posted on April 25, 2016 at 11:18 AM | Permalink
  10. Subdream wrote:

    This has really helped me out, thanks so much for sharing. I am fixing a Surface pro 4 for a friend and I’ve found the whole process a nightmare. It’s for reasons like these that I’ll never have a PC. Since going Mac back in 2009, I’ve never looked back.

    Posted on June 23, 2016 at 3:45 AM | Permalink
  11. skalkos wrote:

    My surface pro 4 is looping on start screen and the hold down volume and start button does nothing. Is there any other way to by pass the loop?

    Posted on July 8, 2016 at 4:57 PM | Permalink
  12. Michael wrote:

    The solution described here is the only one that work for me, sorry.

    Posted on July 10, 2016 at 9:46 AM | Permalink
  13. johnnymac1971 wrote:

    I have exactly the same problem – linked it to the wrong account and could basically never log in. have been trying to log in and been on to microsofts useless help desk (online chat)…it stuck at 7% when resetting….stopit and the same thing…going to try your method now!

    Posted on August 1, 2016 at 12:18 AM | Permalink
  14. johnnymac1971 wrote:

    this has become a nightmare, i couldn’t get the cmd prompt without logging in (which i am unable to do!)…now i am gettng a flickering screen with ‘surface’ popping up and disappearing every 10 or so seconds….all this because i linked it to the wrong office 365 account (my work account hosted by godaddy – which wuld seem to be causing the loggin in problem)….

    Posted on August 1, 2016 at 12:38 AM | Permalink
  15. Michael wrote:

    Oh man, Johnny, I’m sorry to hear…

    This is exactly the same frustration I had. I don’t understand how a “normal” user should cope with that kind of problems. You surely don’t expect this from a consumer device.

    Posted on August 4, 2016 at 8:50 AM | Permalink
  16. Lovegoat wrote:

    Good article – Im in this process now.. Have been with apple for 10 years because their stuff – thought expensive – actually works.

    Purchased my first microsoft- surface pro 4 yesterday, and within 4 hours of owning it i have a number of issues topping of with this!! Grr..

    Hope your procedure helps – good write up! (And by the way – how do you get a higher DL-speed from microsoft than 900kb/s – thought such speeds were a blast from the past..)

    Posted on August 25, 2016 at 10:44 AM | Permalink
  17. Michael wrote:

    *keeps fingers crossed*

    Posted on August 25, 2016 at 10:46 AM | Permalink
  18. Robert West wrote:

    Like Lovegoat, I’m an apple convert. I wanted a tablet with a bigger screen, so it was either the 12.9″ iPad Pro, or a Surface Pro 4. I choose the SP4 because I have 3 iPad’s in the house, wanted a change, and within 3 days of having my SP4, I’m wanting to factory reset it as it was just soo buggy, it would hang, apps would randomly close, (free) apps would just not install from the app store, it would just say “starting downloading” or something like that, and just not do anything. Small apps too, like a couple of MBs, and I have fast internet…So I thought I’d reset and see if that helped.

    After kicking it off, it got to 31% quite quickly and I let it sit there for 4 hours before concluding something was wrong. I had the keyboard connected, so I’m not sure if that was part of the problem. Anyway, I removed the keyboard, followed your “nuke” method, and the recovery is now sitting at 32% and counting, hopefully this will do the trick and I can get back to using my new toy, and hopefully it’s more stable.

    Thanks for the article.

    As Barney would say, you are Legen…wait for it…dary

    Posted on September 16, 2016 at 3:00 PM | Permalink
  19. mosad wrote:

    when i press power and volume down there is nothing happened what can i do

    Posted on October 2, 2016 at 1:25 PM | Permalink
  20. Matteo wrote:

    Thank you so much, this helped me a lot !!

    Posted on December 3, 2016 at 12:12 AM | Permalink
  21. Tony wrote:

    Didn’t work 🙁
    The MS instructions to recover from disk didn’t work. I now have an expensive paper weight and my only option now is to install from a Windows 10 ISO as I can’t get the Surface install media as an ISO – thanks microsoft!

    Posted on January 22, 2017 at 11:08 PM | Permalink
  22. John wrote:

    Thanks for the post! This worked (unlike, ehem, the official support)! I struggled days and even suffered from Factory Reset failure (looping). Your explanation made a 100% sense, so I tried. Best wishes. Thanks!

    Posted on May 18, 2017 at 6:35 PM | Permalink
  23. Jeff wrote:

    Excellent work Michael! Same for those who mentioned removing keyboard.
    If its close to completion (mine was 99% done) and reboots to Restore options, fully power off, remove USB device and allow the rest to complete.
    Worked like a charm!

    Posted on September 8, 2017 at 7:54 PM | Permalink
  24. amra wrote:

    thanks for the article and this conversation – the most informative I found. Can’t believe this happens with a 500+ USD modern device built by MS.. Very disappointed. Don’t have usb sticks, trying the reset w/o keyboard. Will keep u posted on my result.

    Posted on September 13, 2017 at 5:44 AM | Permalink
  25. amra wrote:

    UPD: it has failed at 30-31%. Seems like it impacts only at 99%…

    Posted on September 13, 2017 at 5:49 AM | Permalink
  26. Harry wrote:

    Thank you Michael – you save my day … and my Surface too 😉

    Posted on November 5, 2017 at 3:22 PM | Permalink
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