Windows stops responding on Surface

If Windows isn’t responding on your Surface, here's info to help you get things back up and running.

Applies to

Surface Book, Surface Book with Performance Base, Surface Pro 4, Surface Pro 3, Surface 3, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro.

Applies to

Surface Pro 3, Surface 3, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro.

Applies to

Surface Book, Surface Book with Performance Base, Surface Pro 4, Surface Pro 3, Surface 3, Surface Pro 2, Surface 2, Surface Pro, Surface RT.

Applies to

Surface 2, Surface RT.

Operating system:

Things to check first

Before you start troubleshooting, do the following:

Disconnect everything from your Surface

Unplug the power cord from the electrical outlet and remove everything you have connected to your Surface—power supply, Typing Cover, accessories, adapters, and memory card. Remove your Surface from the docking station if you’re using one.

Have your BitLocker recovery key handy

Windows might prompt you for your BitLocker recovery key. If you don’t have it, you can retrieve it by going to windows.microsoft.com/recoverykey and signing in with the same Microsoft account that you use on your Surface.

Clean the connectors on your Surface Book

If you're using a Surface Book, try cleaning the connectors between the Clipboard and the keyboard.

Step 1: Detach the Clipboard from the keyboard.
Step 2: Clean the pins on the connector with a pencil eraser. Rub the eraser back and forth across the pins.
Step 3: Wet a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol. Clean the pins on the long, narrow part of the charger that you plug into your Surface. Rub the cotton swab back and forth across the pins. After you are done cleaning the pins on the connector, make sure the pins are dry, and reattach the Clipboard to the keyboard.

If your Surface or Windows won’t start

If any of the following is happening, go to Surface won’t turn on, Windows won’t start, or the battery won’t charge:

  • The screen remains black when you turn your Surface on or wake it from sleep.
  • Your Surface gets stuck on the Surface logo screen.
  • Windows doesn't start correctly—for example, Windows goes to the Automatic Repair or the Choose an option screen at startup.
  • The Surface battery won’t charge.

Windows is frozen

Note

If your Surface gets stuck on the Surface logo screen or if your screen remains black when you turn your Surface on or wake it from sleep, go to Surface won’t turn on, Windows won’t start, or the battery won’t charge.

Solution 1: Shut down your Surface

See Force a shut down and restart your Surface to find out how.

Windows frequently stops responding

If your Surface stops responding often and the problem doesn’t appear to be related to a particular app, here are a few solutions to try.

Solution 1: Install Surface and Windows updates

For info about how to update Windows, see Update Windows 10. To learn more about updating your Surface, see Install Surface and Windows updates.

Solution 2: Scan Surface with Windows Defender

For info about how scan your Surface using Windows Defender, see What is Windows Defender?

For info about how to schedule a scan in Windows Defender, see Help protect my computer with Windows Defender.

Solution 3: Disable fast startup

Fast startup is a setting that helps Windows start faster after shutdown. Windows does this by saving system info to a file when it shuts down. Disabling this setting can help resolve some Windows startup problems. To see how, go to Fast Startup - How to disable if it's causing problems.

Solution 4: Disable unnecessary startup programs

When you turn on your Surface, some programs start automatically and run in the background. You can disable these programs at startup to improve Windows startup time and overall system performance. To see how, go to Change startup apps in Windows 10.

Solution 5: Run Disk Cleanup

You can run Disk Cleanup to reduce the number of unnecessary files on your drive, which can help your Surface run faster. Disk Cleanup can delete temporary and system files, empty the Recycle bin, and remove other items you might no longer need. See Disk cleanup in Windows 10 for more info.

Caution

By default, Windows pre-selects file types that generally are not necessary for you to keep. However, before proceeding, make sure you don’t need the files that are selected. Microsoft isn’t responsible for the loss of personal data.

Solution 6: Optimize (defragment) your hard drive

Defragmentation consolidates data on a disk or storage device so it will work more efficiently. The disk defragmenter tool rearranges the data and reunites fragmented data so your computer can run more efficiently. To see how, visit Defragment your Windows 10 PC.

Solution 7: Identify hardware issues

To help identify specific hardware-related problems on your Surface, try running the following diagnostic tools that are built into Windows.

Windows Memory Diagnostic tool: Run this tool to determine whether your Surface memory is working properly.

Step 1:

Select the search box in the taskbar, enter memory, and in the search results, select Windows Memory Diagnostic.

Step 2:

Select Restart now and check for problems (recommended).
When your Surface restarts, the diagnostic tool will run and display the test status on the screen. Although the test may appear inactive, it’s still running. Windows will restart automatically after the test is complete.

If the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool finds any errors, contact us.

Error Checking tool: Run this tool to scan for errors on your hard drive.

Step 1:

Open File Explorer in the taskbar and select This PC.

Step 2:

Press and hold (or right-click) Windows (C:) and select Properties.

Step 3:

Select the Tools tab, and under Error checking, select Check.
Follow the on-screen instructions.

If the tool finds any errors, contact us.

Solution 8: Restore or reset your Surface

If you’re still having a problem with Windows, try fresh start, restoring, and resetting your Surface (in that order).

To learn how to restore your Surface, see Restore or reset Surface

Note
If you upgraded your Surface from Windows 8 to Windows 10, a reset will reinstall Windows 10, unless you choose Restore factory settings during the reset.

Windows stops responding when you use a certain app

If Windows stops responding when you’re using a certain app, try these solutions:

Solution 1: Install Surface and Windows updates

For info about how to update Windows, see Update Windows 10. To learn more about updating your Surface, see Install Surface and Windows updates.

Solution 2: Update or reinstall the app

Check for app updates and, if necessary, uninstall and reinstall the app. To learn how, see Install and uninstall apps on Surface.

Solution 3: Contact the app's publisher

To contact the publisher of your app:

Step 1: Go to Start Windows logo, and select Store.
Step 2:

Search or browse for the app and select it.

Step 3:

Scroll to the Additional information section of the app's description page, and under Learn more, select the support link for the app. The link will open an email message for you to contact support or will take you to a support website.


Note
If any of the following is happening, go to Surface won’t turn on, Windows won’t start, or the battery won’t charge:

  • The screen remains black when you turn Surface on or wake it from sleep.
  • Surface gets stuck on the Surface logo screen.
  • Windows doesn't start correctly (for example, Windows goes to the Automatic Repair or the Choose an option screen at startup).
  • The Surface battery won’t charge.

Before you begin

Before you start troubleshooting, do the following.

  • Disconnect everything from Surface. Unplug the power cord from the electrical outlet, and remove everything you may have connected to Surface—power supply, Typing Cover, accessories, adapters, and microSD card, and remove Surface from the docking station if you’re using one.
  • Have your BitLocker Recovery Key handy. Windows might prompt you for your BitLocker Recovery Key. If you don’t have it, you can retrieve it by going to windows.microsoft.com/recoverykey, and signing it with the same Microsoft account you use on Surface. For more info, see BitLocker recovery keys: Frequently asked questions.

Windows stops responding

If Windows stops responding, and the problem doesn’t appear to be related to a particular app, here are a few solutions to try:

Solution 1: Shut down Surface

Step 1: Press the power button on your Surface and hold it down for 30 seconds.
This ensures that Surfaces shuts down instead of just going to sleep.
Step 2: Next, press the power button again to turn Surface back on.

If shutting down Surface and turning it back on doesn't help, try Solution 2.

Solution 2: Install Surface and Windows updates

Step 1: On the Start screen, 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, and tap or click Update and recovery.
Step 3: Tap or click Check now.
Step 4: If updates are available, tap or click View details.
Step 5: Tap or click to select the updates you want, and tap or click Install.
You may need to restart Surface after the updates have installed.

For more info on updates, see Install Surface and Windows updates.

If installing updates doesn't help, try Solution 3.

Solution 3: Scan Surface with Windows Defender

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge, 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 defender, and in the search results, tap or click Windows Defender.
Step 3: On the Home tab, choose a scan option, and tap or click Scan now.

For more info on features built into Windows 8.1 to help guard Surface against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, see How can I help protect my PC from viruses? and How do I find and remove a virus?

If Windows still doesn’t respond, try Solution 4.

Solution 4: Disable fast startup

Fast startup is a setting that helps Windows 8.1 start faster after shutdown. Windows does this by saving system info to a file when it shuts down.

Disabling this setting can help resolve some Windows startup problems. Here's how:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge, and tap or click 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 power button, and in the search results, tap or click Change what the power buttons do.
Step 3: Tap or click Change settings that are currently unavailable.
Step 4: If the Turn on fast start up (recommended) check box is selected, tap or click to remove the check mark.
Step 5: Tap or click Save changes.

If Windows still isn't running as well as it should, try Solution 5.

Solution 5: Two-button shutdown

Important
Don’t use this process on Surface RT or Surface 2.

Use this two-button shutdown process to ensure that Surface is turned off completely. Here’s how:

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap or click Settings, tap or click Power, and tap or click Shut down to shut down Surface.
If you can’t shut down Surface normally, press and hold the power button on your Surface for 30 seconds.
Step 2: After Surface turns off, press and hold volume-up button and the power button on your Surface at the same time for at least 15 seconds, and then release both.
Step 3: The screen may flash the Surface logo, but continue holding the buttons down for at least 15 seconds.
Step 4: After you release the buttons, wait 10 seconds.
Step 5: Press and release the power button again to turn your Surface back on.

If Windows still isn’t running right, try Solution 6.

Solution 6: Restore, refresh, or reset Surface

If there’s still a problem with Windows, try restoring, refreshing, or resetting Surface.

  • Restore Surface

    Restoring your Surface is a way to undo recent system changes that may be causing problems. Restoring Surface doesn’t change your personal files, but it might remove recently installed apps and drivers.

    If restoring Surface doesn't resolve the problem, refresh Surface.

  • Refresh Surface

    Refreshing Surface reinstalls Windows and keeps your personal files, settings, pre-installed apps, and apps you've installed from the Windows Store. Desktop apps you installed will be deleted, but you can reinstall them after refreshing Surface.

    Note
    If you updated Surface Pro from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, refresh will reinstall Windows 8 (not Windows 8.1) and apps that came pre-installed on Surface Pro. Other apps and your settings will be gone. You can reinstall them after the refresh is done.

    If refreshing Surface doesn't solve the problem, reset Surface.

  • Reset Surface

    Resetting your Surface reinstalls Windows, but removes your personal files, settings, and apps that didn’t come pre-installed on Surface. Reset keeps the apps that came installed on your Surface.

Note
If you updated Surface Pro from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, a reset will reinstall Windows 8 (not Windows 8.1). You’ll need to reinstall the Windows 8.1 update.

For detailed how-to info, see Restore or reset Surface Pro or Surface 3.

If you continue to have problems with Windows, contact us.

Windows stops responding in a certain app

If Windows stops responding when you’re using a certain app, try these solutions:

Solution 1: Install Surface and Windows updates

Make sure you have the latest updates for Surface and Windows. See Solution 2: Install Surface and Windows updates above.

Solution 2: Update or reinstall the app

Check for app updates, and if necessary, uninstall and reinstall the app. To learn how, see Install and uninstall apps on Surface.

Solution 3: Run the App troubleshooter

Try running the App troubleshooter. The troubleshooter can find and fix many problems with apps.

Solution 4: Contact the app's publisher

To contact the publisher of your app:

Step 1: On the Start screen, tap or click Store.
Step 2: Search or browse for the app, and tap or click it.
Step 3:Scroll to the to Details section of the app's description page, and then under Learn more, tap or click the support link for the app.
The link will open an email message for you to contact support or will take you to a support website.

Note
If any of the following is happening, go to Surface won’t turn on, Windows won’t start, or the battery won’t charge:

  • The screen remains black when you turn Surface on or wake it from sleep.
  • Surface gets stuck on the Surface logo screen.
  • Windows doesn't start correctly (for example, Windows goes to the Automatic Repair or the Choose an option screen at startup).
  • The Surface battery won’t charge.

Before you begin

Before you start troubleshooting, do the following.

  • Disconnect everything from Surface. Unplug the power cord from the electrical outlet, and remove everything you may have connected to Surface—power supply, Typing Cover, accessories, adapters, and microSD card.
  • Have your BitLocker Recovery Key handy. Windows might prompt you for your BitLocker Recovery Key. If you don’t have it, you can retrieve it by going to windows.microsoft.com/recoverykey, and signing it with the same Microsoft account you use on Surface. For more info, see BitLocker recovery keys: Frequently asked questions.

Windows stops responding

If Windows stops responding and the problem doesn’t appear to be related to a particular app, here are a few solutions to try:

Solution 1: Shut down Surface

Step 1: Press the power button on your Surface and hold it down for 30 seconds.
This ensures that Surfaces shuts down instead of just going to sleep.
Step 2: Next, press the power button again to turn Surface back on.

If shutting down Surface and turning it back on doesn't help, try Solution 2.

Solution 2: Install Surface and Windows updates

Step 1: On the Start screen, 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, and tap or click Update and recovery.
Step 3: Tap or click Check now.
Step 4: If updates are available, tap or click View details.
Step 5: Tap or click to select the updates you want, and tap or click Install.
You may need to restart Surface after the updates have installed.

For more info on updates, see Install Surface and Windows updates.

If installing updates doesn't help, try Solution 3.

Solution 3: Scan Surface with Windows Defender

Step 1: Swipe in from the right edge, 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 defender, and in the search results, tap or click Windows Defender.
Step 3: On the Home tab, choose a scan option, and tap or click Scan now.

For more info on features built into Windows RT 8.1 to help guard against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, see How can I help protect my PC from viruses? and How do I find and remove a virus?

If Windows still doesn’t respond, try Solution 4.

Solution 4: Refresh or reset Surface

Try these solutions in this order: refresh Surface and reset Surface.

  • Refresh Surface
    Refreshing Surface reinstalls Windows and keeps your personal files, settings, pre-installed apps, and apps you've installed from the Windows Store.

If refreshing Surface doesn't solve the problem, reset Surface.

  • Reset Surface
    Resetting your Surface reinstalls Windows, but removes your personal files, settings, and apps that didn’t come pre-installed on Surface. Reset keeps the apps that came installed on your Surface.

For detailed how-to info, see Refresh or reset Surface RT or Surface 2.

If you continue to have problems with Windows, contact us.

Windows stops responding in a certain app

If Windows stops responding when you’re using a certain app, try these solutions:

Solution 1: Install Surface and Windows updates

Make sure you have the latest updates for Surface and Windows. See Solution 2: Install Surface and Windows updates above.

Solution 2: Update or reinstall the app

Check for app updates, and if necessary, uninstall and reinstall the app. To learn how, see Install and uninstall apps on Surface.

Solution 3: Run the App troubleshooter

Try running the App troubleshooter. The troubleshooter can find and fix many problems with apps.

Solution 4: Contact the app's publisher

To contact the publisher of your app:

Step 1: On the Start screen, tap or click Store.
Step 2: Search or browse for the app, and tap or click it.
Step 3: Swipe left (or scroll) to Details, and under Learn more, tap or click the support link for the app.
The link will open an email message for you to contact support or will take you to a support website.

Note
If any of the following is happening, go to Surface won’t turn on, Windows won’t start, or the battery won’t charge:

  • The screen remains black when you turn your Surface on or wake it from sleep.
  • Your Surface gets stuck on the Surface logo screen.
  • Windows doesn't start correctly (for example, Windows goes to the Automatic Repair or the Choose an option screen at startup).
  • The Surface battery won’t charge.

Before you begin

Before you start troubleshooting, do the following.

  • Disconnect everything from your Surface. Unplug the power cord from the electrical outlet, and remove everything you may have connected to your Surface—power supply, Typing Cover, accessories, adapters, and microSD card.
  • Have your BitLocker Recovery Key handy. Windows might prompt you for your BitLocker Recovery Key. If you don’t have it, you can retrieve it by going to windows.microsoft.com/recoverykey, and signing in with the same Microsoft account you use on your Surface. For more info, see BitLocker recovery keys: Frequently asked questions.

Windows stops responding

If Windows stops responding, and the problem doesn’t appear to be related to a particular app, here are a few solutions to try:

Solution 1: Shut down Surface

Step 1: Press the power button on your Surface and hold it down for 30 seconds.
This ensures that your Surfaces shuts down instead of just going to sleep.
Step 2: Press the power button again to turn your Surface back on.

If that doesn't help, try Solution 2.

Solution 2: Install Surface and Windows updates

Step 1: Go to Start Windows logo, and select PC Settings > Update and recovery > Check now.
Step 2: If updates are available, select View details.
Step 3: Select the updates you want, and select Install.
You may need to restart your Surface after the updates have installed.

For more info on updates, see Install Surface and Windows updates.

If installing updates doesn't help, try Solution 3.

Solution 3: Scan Surface with Windows Defender

Step 1: Go to Start Windows logo, and in the search box, enter defender, and in the search results, select Windows Defender.
Step 2: On the Home tab, choose a scan option, and select Scan now.

For more info on features built into Windows to help guard against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, see How can I help protect my PC from viruses? and How do I find and remove a virus?

If Windows still doesn’t respond, try Solution 4.

Solution 4: Refresh or reset Surface

Try these solutions in this order: refreshing or resetting your Surface.

  • Refresh Surface
    Refreshing your Surface reinstalls Windows and keeps your personal files, settings, pre-installed apps, and apps you installed from the Windows Store.

If refreshing your Surface doesn't solve the problem, reset your Surface.

  • Reset Surface
    Resetting your Surface reinstalls Windows but removes your personal files, settings, and apps that didn’t come pre-installed on Surface. Reset keeps the apps that came installed on your Surface.

For detailed how-to info, see Refresh or reset Surface RT or Surface 2.

Note
If you updated your Surface RT Update 3, a refresh or reset will reinstall Windows RT 8.1. You’ll need to reinstall Windows 8.1 RT Update 3 after the refresh or reset is complete. For more info, see Install Surface and Windows updates.

If you continue to have problems with Windows, contact us.

Windows stops responding in a certain app

If Windows stops responding when you’re using a certain app, try these solutions:

Solution 1: Install Surface and Windows updates

Make sure you have the latest updates for Surface and Windows. See Solution 2: Install Surface and Windows updates above.

Solution 2: Update or reinstall the app

Check for app updates and, if necessary, uninstall and reinstall the app. To learn how, see Install and uninstall apps on Surface.

Solution 3: Run the App troubleshooter

Try running the App troubleshooter. The troubleshooter can find and fix many problems with apps.

Solution 4: Contact the app's publisher

To contact the publisher of your app:

Step 1: Go to Start Windows logo, and select Store.
Step 2: Search or browse for the app, and select it.
Step 3: Swipe left (or scroll) to Details, and under Learn more, select the support link for the app.
The link will open an email message for you to contact support or take you to a support website.

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