Fix Windows Phone update problems with the Windows Phone Recovery Tool

Don't bang your head against a wall, use Microsoft's software recovery tools instead

Windows phone recovery tool
Credit: liz west (CC BY 2.0)

Since October 2014, developers and enthusiasts have been testing Windows 10 through Microsoft's Windows Insider Program, and during this time, mobile Insiders have, slowly but surely, witnessed Windows 10's transformation into a stable operating system.

And as to be expected, testers of beta software sometimes run into problems, and on rare occasions, need to restore their phones back to Windows Phone 8.1. This is done for a variety of reasons, but many Insiders restore phone back to Windows 8.1 only as a final option, and only if it is unable to complete the upgrade process to the latest beta version of Windows 10.

To illustrate, this is a screenshot taken on one of my development phones after an unsuccessful attempt at upgrading Windows 10 mobile:

Error upgrading Windows 10 Mobile beta

For the majority of Windows Phone users --meaning those that aren't always on the bleeding edge, testing fast-ring beta software -- probably expect to see their phones upgrade to Windows 10 any day now, based on information gathered from news reports and online forums. The latest, most trustworthy reports suggest we can expect a September release. To manage expectations, Microsoft has published a list of phones that should support Windows 10 mobile, and it has recently published another page listing the minimum hardware requirements a phone needs before it can run Windows 10 OS.

Despite this, there will probably be a few users, for one reason or another, that will not be able to upgrade.  Most likely, the majority that cannot will be prevented from doing so because of lack of storage space or other hardware limitations. However, a minority of users -- much like an Insider -- will need to restore their phones because the upgrade process inexplicably failed.

Thankfully, Microsoft has a few software recovery tools you can download, that allow you to reset and recover phone software. Most users will probably need the Windows Phone Recovery Tool (download link) for Windows, to restore their phones back to working order. After the tool is installed on a Windows PC, connect your Lumia phone, and in about 10 to 15 minutes your phone will be restored back to a working Windows Phone 8.1 mobile. For older phones, Microsoft recommends the Lumia Software Recovery tool (download link).

So if all else fails, give these software recovery tools a try. As both a Windows Desktop and Mobile Insider, I can attest the Windows Phone Recovery Tool works wonders: I've even used it successfully on beta versions of Windows 10 desktop to restore a Lumia back to Windows Phone 8.1.

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