PSA: How to free up space on your Microsoft Surface Pro

Chris Burns - Feb 9, 2013, 3:29pm CST
PSA: How to free up space on your Microsoft Surface Pro

This week we’re hearing quite a few responses from the public on their surprise at the amount of actual usable hard drive space on the new Microsoft Surface Pro. While the standard ways to free up the space taken up by apps, photos, and videos that you don’t necessarily need, there’s also a slightly more dangerous route you might take. One of the largest space-users on the Microsoft Surface Pro (see our full review here) is the Windows 8 on-board recovery partition.

If you’re going to be wanting to delete this bit of code, you should know right away: if you do delete it and your computer crashes (in any of a variety of different ways), you could potentially have a completely bricked machine. The nice thing about Windows 8 is that you’re free to create a backup bootable USB stick with great ease. Once you’ve got a recovery USB stick, you’ve only to start your machine up holding down the volume button to boot into advanced options and recover from there.


Creating a bootable recovery USB stick is easy in Windows 8: you’ll first need a USB stick that’s at least 256 MB in size. After you’ve inserted that USB into your Surface Pro, you’ll want to press your Windows Key and your “R” key at the same time, then type RecoveryDrive.exe – you could also open your Control Panel and click or tap on the “Recovery” icon, from there you’ll see an option to Create a Recovery Drive. If at this point you’re prompted by UAC, you’ll want to click or tap on “Yes.”

From that point on, creating a USB recovery drive is self-explanatory : the guide screens will make it quite simple for you. The one other thing you’ll want to make sure you’ve done before a final push to the USB stick is to empty out the USB stick itself – if you’ve got anything on there you want to keep, of course.

The actual deleting of the partition that takes up a chunk of your internal storage for recovery is extremely similar to what you’d have done in previous versions of Windows. You’ll find Computer Management under settings, click or tap Control Panel, System and Security, Administrative Tools, and finally “Computer Management.” You may have to type in your administrator password at this point if you have one.


After that you’ll go to Storage (in the left pane) and click Disk Management. This screen is where you’ll be doing the most damage if you’ve not already created a USB recovery partition. If you delete the partition reserved for recovery at this point and lose your USB stick, you may very well be up a river without a paddle should your Surface Pro catch a bad bit of crash action.

Basically what we’re saying here is that you’re better off working with alternate storage options while this bit of space continues to be taken up by the Microsoft-added recovery. It’s there for a reason, and that reason is a good one. Stay safe!

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