Windows – Reinstall Windows 10 from recovery drive (USB) onto empty hard drive fails (with vague error message)

system-recoverywindows 10

(The word "problem" isn't allowed in titles; otherwise, I would have put the error message in the title)

I bought a Windows 10 laptop (Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon) and created a recovery USB drive from within Windows using the built-in tool. The system passed all hardware tests too. I thought I could recover the system using the recovery USB only, so I wiped the hard drive1.

Thus, the hard drive is completely empty. I reformatted it with Gparted so it's just one large empty NTFS partition. When I boot from the recovery USB and select any of the recovery options, the recovery begins, but I eventually get an error of

There was a problem resetting your PC

On the Microsoft Answers site, I see one suggestion that says to select "Remove Everything" when using the recovery USB, but I tried that and I get the same error. I've tried every option on the recovery USB, including the option to wipe the whole hard drive first, only reset the PC (without wiping the drive), and whatever other options there are in the Troubleshoot my PC menu that I can't remember off the top of my head. They all fail with the same error.

Is there any way to recover/reinstall the Windows 10 factory image on this PC? There might be an error with the recovery USB, but unfortunately I can't make a new one for my system because Windows is gone from the machine.


1 Long story short, I tried to install a Linux distro, which failed, so I'm putting Windows back for the time being. Some of the issues with the Linux distro are detailed in this question on the Unix SE but I'm not sure that it's relevant here.