Applies to

Surface Book, 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.

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?

Notes
  • 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 freezes or stops responding, try the solutions at Windows stops responding on Surface before performing a system restore or reset.

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.
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

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 to Windows?

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

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

Step 1:On the Windows sign-in screen, select Power Power icon.
Step 2:Hold down the Shift key and the Alt key and select Restart.
Step 3:On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot.
Step 4:Select Advanced options > System restore.
Step 5:If prompted for a recovery key, enter your recovery key.
Step 6:Select the target operating system, and select Next.
Step 7:Select a restore point.
Step 8:Select Next > Finish.
Step 9:When asked if you want to continue, select Yes.

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

Can’t start Windows?

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

Step 1: Start 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 do not 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 > System Restore.
Step 4: If prompted for a recovery key, enter your recovery key.
Step 5:

Select the target operating system, and select Next.

Step 6:

Choose a restore point.

Step 7:

Select Next > Finish.

Step 8:

When asked if you want to continue, select Yes.

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

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
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 your upgrade to Windows 10, you will no longer be able to go back to your previous version of Windows.

Can't sign in to Windows?

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

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

Step 1:From the Windows sign-in screen, select Power Power icon.
Step 2:Hold down the Shift key and the Alt key and select Restart.
Step 3:On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot.
Step 4:Select Reset this PC.
Step 5:Select Keep my files or Remove everything.

Can’t start Windows?

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

Step 1: Start your Surface 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 do not 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 > Reset this PC.
Step 4: Select Keep my files or Remove everything.

Go back to your previous version of Windows

Within a month after you upgrade to Windows 10, you’ll be able to go back to your previous version of Windows. 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
If you reset your Surface within a month of your upgrade to Windows 10, you will no longer be able to go back to your previous version of Windows.

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

  • 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. If you forgot your password, see I forgot my password.
  • 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.

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:

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 Using a Surface USB recovery drive. To learn how to create a 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.
Step 4: When the Surface logo appears, release the volume-down button.
Step 5: When prompted, select the language and keyboard layout you want.
Step 6: On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Recover from a drive.
Step 7: If prompted for a recovery key, select Skip this drive at the bottom of the screen.
Step 8: 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 clean the drive. If you are keeping your Surface, you just need to remove your files.
Step 9: Select Recover.
Surface restarts and displays the Surface logo while the reset process continues. This can take several minutes.
Step 10: If prompted to change your TPM, select OK.
If you can’t boot from your USB recovery drive, you may need to configure the boot order so the USB drive is the first option. For more info, see How do I use the BIOS/UEFI? and Using Surface UEFI on Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book.
If you still can’t boot from the USB recovery drive or don’t see the Recover from a drive option, make sure that the USB recovery drive is configured correctly and has the correct recovery image for your Surface. For more info, see Create a USB recovery drive.
Note
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.

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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