Windows Phone Device Recovery

Windows Phone Device Recovery:  A How-to Guide

During the course of Flighting, there may from time to time be bumps in the road.  Although our hope is to minimize these bumps, testing new software comes with a unique set of experiences.

If you encounter turbulence during a Flight and need to recover your phone to a good state, this guide will help you on the path to restoring your device.

There are three ways to assist a device that is not functioning as expected:

  • Restart / Reboot
  • Hard reset
  • Recovery via the Windows Device Recovery Tool (WDRT)

Restart / Reboot

If your device ends up in an undesired state, completing a restart is the first step to try.  Often time unexpected issues can be resolved by simply rebooting the device. This can be done one of three ways:

  • Press and hold the Power key, then swipe down when prompted
  • Press and hold both Power and Volume Down for 10 seconds
  • Remove the battery from the device, re-insert the battery, power the device on

A restart does not erase any user data, files, photos, etc.   Completing this action reboots the phone and can clear up device hangs, app crashes, failures to open/launch apps, and so forth.  There are no changes made to the OS via this action.

Hard Reset / Factory Reset

Depending on what has occurred with your device, a simple reboot may not be the solution.  In more extreme cases it may be necessary to do a full reset of the device to recover back to a usable state.

It is important to note that a hard reset (also known as a factory reset) will erase all data on the device.  This includes call logs, text messages, emails, applications, app data, photos/videos saved to the internal device memory, etc.  If you’d like to restore as much of this information as possible post-reset, you’ll want to ensure you’ve taken a device backup.  Steps to complete a backup can be found here.

There are two primary methods to complete this type of reset:

  • If your device boots into the OS, navigate the following path:

o   Settings > System > About > Reset your phone

o   You will be prompted to confirm that you want to complete a full reset

o   If your device has an SD card inserted, you will be prompted to optionally erase the content of the SD card (this is optional)

o   Follow all on-screen prompts and the reset will begin

  • If your device is completely unresponsive, is stuck in a boot loop, or otherwise won’t boot into the OS as expected, you may use the following steps to complete a full reset:

o   Power the device off

o   Press the Power key briefly to boot the device

o   Immediately press and hold the Volume Down key

o   When an exclamation point (!) appears on the screen, release Volume Down

o   Press the following keys in this order:

§  Volume Up

§  Volume Down

§  Power Key

§  Volume Down

o   The device will then initiate the full reset process

Again, remember that using this type of reset will erase all data from the device.  Please ensure that you have a device backup available if you wish to restore your user data after the reset.

Windows Device Recovery Tool (WDRT)

(aka:  Rolling back to prior OS version)

If your device ends up in a state that cannot be resolved by completing a soft reset or a hard/factory reset, you may need to use the WDRT tool to recover your device.  Using this tool will restore your device back to the most recently available Windows Phone OS version that was published for your device.  This tool should be used as a final means of recovery for devices that were not fixed by either of the previous reset methods, or if you want to remove Windows 10 flights from your device and return to the most recently published Retail image available for your phone.

To recover your phone using the Windows Device Recovery Tool, complete the following steps:

  • Ensure that your device has a full charge if possible.  A minimum of 50% charge is required.
  • Open the WDRT software on your PC

  • Connect the affected device to your PC via an appropriate USB cable:

o   If your device is detected appropriately, click the phone option as displayed.

o   If your device is not detected, choose “My device was not detected” and follow the appropriate on-screen prompts.

§  If using this option and the WDRT tool seems to “hang”, disconnect the phone from the USB cable, wait ~10 seconds, and reconnect.

§  If disconnecting the device does not work, you may need to reboot your PC to re-enumerate the connected peripherals.

  • The WDRT will check your device for available Firmware version and OS version:
  • The tool may say “You have the latest available software version”.  This is referencing the firmware on the device.  This is expected.  You can view the Operating system version and see the version that is available on the WDRT server (highlighted in red below).
  • Click Reinstall software.  The WDRT will download the appropriate software package and then begin the recovery process.  Ensure the device remains connected via USB during this entire process.  Removal of the device during the flashing process may render it permanently inoperable.
  • Once the recovery image has flashed to the device, it will reboot and prompt you to complete setup.  The device is now fully recovered.

Troubleshooting WDRT Concerns

In some circumstances where the device OS fails to initialize or the bootloader has been impacted, the WDRT tool may have difficulty recognizing the device, even when using the “My device was not detected” steps as noted above.  If this occurs, you will see the following message in the WDRT tool:

Please follow these steps as listed.  Leave the device connected via USB and complete a forced reboot using the Power and Volume down key combination.  This will trigger a reboot and the WDRT should catch the device as it begins the reboot.  In some circumstances you may need to reboot the device more than once for the WDRT to connect to the device.

If this does not work, you will need to force the device into flashing mode.  To put the device into this mode, complete the following steps:

  • Disconnect the device from the USB cable
  • Power the device off
  • Press and release the Power key
  • As soon as the device vibrates, press and hold the Volume Up key
  • The device will show a lightning bolt and gear icon on the screen

  • Reconnect the device to the PC via USB cable
  • This should allow the device to be recognized by the WDRT tool

If none of the above steps allow for recovery via the WDRT tool, your device may have an issue  that cannot be resolved by re-flashing software to the device.  Please start a new thread in the Insider forum to work through any additional troubleshooting.


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Last updated October 27, 2020 Views 43,368 Applies to: