Operating system:

Restore or reset Surface

If you're having trouble with your Surface Pro model, Surface 3, or Surface Book, you may be able to restore or reset it to solve the problem.


Should you restore or reset your Surface?

Note
If you forgot your password, try retrieving it before performing a system restore or reset. To learn more, see I forgot my password.

If your Surface isn't running as quickly or reliably as it used to, try one of these recovery options. The following table can help you decide which one to use.

Problem
Try this
Your Surface isn’t working well. You want to upgrade to the most recent version of Windows 10, You want keep all of your files and installed drivers.
Fresh start
Your Surface isn't working well, and you recently installed an app, driver, or update.
Restore from a system restore point
Your Surface isn’t working well, and it’s been a while since you installed anything new. Or, you tried a restore and it didn’t solve your problem.
Reset your Surface
You want to reinstall your previous operating system.
Go back to your previous version of Windows
Windows won't start, and you've created a recovery drive.
Use a recovery drive to reinstall Windows

Fresh start

Fresh start is a Windows feature that installs the most recent version of Windows. Fresh start retains all of your personal files and some Windows settings. Fresh start also keeps any drivers that you installed.

Important
Fresh start will remove all applications, including Microsoft Office and third-party anti-virus software, that do not come standard with Windows.
Step 1:

Press and hold (or right-click) Start Windows logo , and select Windows Defender Security Center.

Step 2:

Select Device performance & health.

Step 3:

Under Fresh start, select Additional info.

Restore from a system restore point

This option takes your Surface back to an earlier point in time, called a system restore point. Restore points are generated when you install a new app, driver, or Windows update and when you create a restore point manually. Restoring won’t affect your personal files, but it will remove apps, drivers, and updates installed after the restore point was made.

Step 1: Press and hold (or right-click) Start Windows logo, and select Control Panel.
Step 2: In the search box in the upper-right corner, enter recovery.
Step 3: Select Recovery > Open System Restore > Next.
Step 4: Choose the restore point related to the problematic app, driver, or update and select Next > Finish.

Not seeing any restore points?

If you’re not seeing any restore points, try a reset to solve your problem. See Reset your Surface below.

Then make sure system protection is turned on. Here’s how:

Step 1: Press and hold (or right-click) Start Windows logo, and select Control Panel.
Step 2: In the search box in the upper-right corner, enter recovery.
Step 3: Select Recovery > Configure System Restore > Configure.
Step 4: Make sure Turn on system protection is selected.

Can't sign in or start Windows?

If you forgot your password, try retrieving it before performing a reset. To learn more, see I forgot my password.

Even if you can't start or sign in to Windows, you may be able to perform a system restore in the Windows Recovery Environment. For more info, go to the “Use a recovery drive to restore or reset your PC” section of Recovery options in Windows 10.

Notes
  • Start your Surface by using a USB recovery drive. Insert a bootable USB drive into the USB port on your Surface, and then press and hold the volume-down button while you press and release the power button. When the Surface logo appears, release the volume-down button. For more info, see Boot Surface from a USB device. If you don't have a USB recovery drive, see Download a recovery image for your Surface.
  • The USB recovery drive must be formatted to FAT32 (not NTFS) to work correctly.

Reset your Surface

Resetting lets you choose whether to keep your files or remove them, and then reinstalls Windows. Here’s how:

Step 1: Go to Start Windows logo, and select Settings > Update & security > Recovery.
Step 2: Under Reset this PC, select Get started and choose an option.
Option
What it does
Keep my files
This reinstalls Windows 10 but keeps your personal files and any apps that came with your PC. It removes:
  • Changes you made to settings
  • Apps and drivers you installed

We recommend trying this option first unless you’re donating, recycling, or selling your Surface.

Remove everything
This reinstalls Windows 10 and any apps that came with your PC. It removes:
  • Personal files
  • Changes you made to settings
  • Apps and drivers you installed

If you're planning to donate, recycle, or sell your Surface or send it in for replacement, use this option and choose to fully clean the drive. This might take an hour or two, but it makes it harder for other people to recover files you've removed.

Restore factory settings
This reinstalls the version of Windows that came on your Surface and any apps that came with it. It removes:
  • Personal files
  • Changes you made to settings
  • Apps and drivers you installed
This option isn't available on all devices.
Note
If you reset your Surface within a month of upgrading to Windows 10, you won’t be able to go back to your previous version of Windows.

Can't sign in or start Windows?

If you forgot your password, try retrieving it before performing a reset. To learn more, see I forgot my password.

Even if you can't start or sign in to Windows, you may be able to perform a system restore in the Windows Recovery Environment. For more info, go to the “Use a recovery drive to restore or reset your PC” section of Recovery options in Windows 10.

Notes
  • Start your Surface by using a USB recovery drive. Insert a bootable USB drive into the USB port on your Surface, and then press and hold the volume-down button while you press and release the power button. When the Surface logo appears, release the volume-down button. For more info, see Boot Surface from a USB device. If you don't have a USB recovery drive, see Download a recovery image for your Surface.
  • The USB recovery drive must be formatted to FAT32 (not NTFS) to work correctly.

Go back to your previous version of Windows

If your PC is running Windows 10 Version 1511, you have a month to go back to your previous operating system. If your PC is running Windows 10 Version 1607, you have 10 days to go back. This will keep your personal files, but it'll remove apps and drivers installed after the upgrade, as well as any changes you made to settings.

Note
To see what version of Windows 10 your PC is running after you upgrade, select the Start button, and then select Settings>System>About.

Here’s how to go back to your previous version of Windows on your Surface:

  • Go to Start Windows logo, and select Settings > Update & security > Recovery.

To go back, you may need to:

  • Keep everything in the windows.old and $windows.~bt folders after the upgrade.
  • Remove any user accounts you added after the upgrade.
  • Know the password you used to sign in to Windows 8.1, if you used one.
  • Have the USB drive you used to upgrade to Windows 10, if you used one.
Note
If you go back to Windows 8.1, some apps that came with Windows, like Mail and People, might not work anymore. To fix them, reinstall them from the Store.

If go back isn't available

Check to see if you can restore your Surface to factory settings. This will reinstall the version of Windows that came with your Surface and remove your personal files, apps, and drivers you installed, and any changes you made to settings. Here’s how:

Step 1: Go to Start Windows logo, and select Settings > Update & security > Recovery.
Step 2: Under Reset this PC, select Get started and look for Restore factory settings.

If you created a recovery drive before upgrading to Windows 10, you might be able to use it to restore factory settings—even if the option isn’t showing up in Settings. For more info, see Use a recovery drive to reinstall Windows, below.

Info for Windows Insiders

If you’re an Insider and the current preview build isn’t working for you, do the following on your Surface:

Step 1: Go to Start Windows logo, and select Settings > Update & security > Recovery.
Step 2: Under Go back to an earlier build, select Get started.
Step 3: This won’t remove your personal files, but it will remove recently installed apps and drivers and change settings back to their defaults.

Use a recovery drive to reinstall Windows

For more info about using a recovery drive to reinstall Windows, see Create a USB recovery drive.

If you didn’t create a USB recovery drive, you can download the files you need to get your Surface working again—see Download a recovery image for your Surface.


Restore, refresh, or reset Surface Pro or Surface 3

If you're having trouble with your Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro 3, or Surface 3, you may be able to restore, refresh, or reset it to solve the problem.


Should you restore, refresh, or reset your Surface?

If your Surface isn't running as quickly or reliably as it used to, try one of these recovery options. The following table can help you decide which one to use.

Problem
Try this
Your Surface isn't working well, and you recently installed an app, driver, or update.
Restore from a system restore point
Your Surface isn’t working well, and it’s been a while since you installed anything new. Or, you tried a restore and it didn’t solve your problem.
Refresh or reset your Surface
Your Surface won't start, and you've created a recovery drive.
Use a recovery drive to reinstall Windows

Restore from a system restore point

This option takes your Surface back to an earlier point in time, called a system restore point. Restore points are generated when you install a new app, driver, or Windows update and when you create a restore point manually. Restoring won’t affect your personal files, but it will remove apps, drivers, and updates installed after the restore point was made. To get started, do the following:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Search.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and click Search.)
Step 2: In the search box, enter recovery, and in the search results, tap or click Recovery.
Step 3: Tap or click Open System Restore > Next.
Step 4: Choose the restore point related to the problematic app, driver, or update and tap or click Next > Finish.

Not seeing any restore points?

If you’re not seeing any restore points, try a reset to solve your problem.

To check if system protection is turned on:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Search.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and click Search.)
Step 2: In the search box, enter recovery, and in the search results, tap or click Recovery.
Step 3: Tap or click Configure System Restore > Configure.
Step 4: Make sure Turn on system protection is selected.

Can’t boot into Windows?

If you can’t boot into Windows, you may be able to perform a system restore in the Windows Recovery Environment. Here’s how:

Step 1: Boot your Surface using a USB recovery drive. Insert a bootable USB drive into the USB port on your Surface, then press and hold the volume-down button while you press and release the power button. When the Surface logo appears, release the volume-down button.
For more info, see Boot Surface from a USB device. If you don’t have a USB recovery drive, see Download a recovery image for your Surface.

Note
The USB recovery drive must be formatted to FAT32 (not NTFS) to work correctly.
Step 2: When prompted, select the language and keyboard layout you want.
Step 3: Select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options.
Step 4: Select System Restore, select the target operating system, and select Next.
Step 5: Choose a restore point.
Step 6: Select Next > Finish.
Step 7: When asked if you want to continue, select Yes.

After running system restore, you should be able to boot into Windows.

Refresh your Surface

Refreshing your Surface reinstalls Windows and keeps your personal files, settings, apps that came installed on your Surface, and apps you installed from the Store. You’ll need to reinstall desktop apps. Here’s how:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and click Settings.)
Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings > Update and recovery > Recovery.
Step 3: Under Refresh your PC without affecting your files, tap or click Get started.
Step 4: Tap or click Next, make sure your Surface is plugged in, and tap or click Refresh.

After refreshing your Surface, you’ll need to reinstall desktop apps such as Microsoft Office, as well as the latest Windows updates.

Reset your Surface

Resetting your Surface lets you choose whether to remove just your files or fully clean the drive, and then reinstalls Windows. Here’s how:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and click Settings.)
Step 2: Tap or click Change PC settings > Update and recovery > Recovery.
Step 3: Under Remove everything and reinstall Windows, tap or click Get Started.
Step 4: Tap or click Next, and choose either Just remove my files or Fully clean the drive.

The option to clean the drive is more secure, but takes much longer. For example, if you are recycling your Surface, you should choose to clean the drive. If you are keeping your Surface, you just need to remove your files.

Step 5: Tap or click Reset.

Use a recovery drive to reinstall Windows

For more info about using a recovery drive to reinstall Windows, see Using a Surface USB recovery drive. To learn how to create USB recovery drive, see Create a USB recovery drive.

This process is a bit different depending on the version of Windows you used to create the recovery drive.

Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. If you created a recovery drive on Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, see Using a Windows 8.1 USB recovery drive after upgrading to Windows 10.

Windows 10. If you created a recovery drive on Windows 10:

Step 1: Make sure your Surface is shut down and plugged in.
Step 2: Insert the USB recovery drive into the USB port.
Step 3: Press and hold the volume-down button while you press and release the power button. When the Surface logo appears, release the volume-down button.
Step 4: When prompted, select the language and keyboard layout you want.
Step 5: Connect the recovery drive and turn on your Surface.
Step 6: On the Choose an option screen, tap or click Troubleshoot > Reset this PC and choose the reset option that's best for you.
Notes

  • If you chose not to copy the recovery partition when creating your recovery drive on Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, you won't be able to use it to reinstall Windows.
  • If you chose not to back up system files when you created your recovery drive on Windows 10, you won’t be able to use it to reinstall Windows.

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