Applies to

Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro 3, Windows 8.1.


Surface Pro: Windows won't start or stops responding

If you're having problems with Windows on your Surface Pro, here's info to help you get things back up and running.


Before you begin

Disconnect everything from Surface

First, disconnect or remove the following from your Surface:

  • The power supply
  • Surface Covers, such as Touch Cover or Type Cover
  • microSD memory card (if any)
  • Any USB devices such as printers, keyboards or mice
  • Any video or audio cables or adapters

Have your BitLocker Recovery Key handy

You might be prompted to provide your BitLocker recovery key. To retrieve this key, go to windows.microsoft.com/recoverykey from another trusted PC or mobile device, and sign in with the same Microsoft account you use on Surface. For more info, see BitLocker recovery keys: Frequently asked questions.

The Surface logo doesn't display or stays at a black screen

If the Surface logo screen doesn't display after a few seconds when you turn on Surface, or if Surface’s screen remains black when trying to wake from sleep, see Surface Pro won't turn on.

Surface is stuck on startup or turn-off

During startup, if your Surface is stuck at the Surface logo or the “Getting devices ready” screen, turn off Surface and then turn it back on. Occasionally, large updates may make startup take longer – up to 20 minutes.

Step 1:  Press the Power button (located on the top right) and hold it down for 30 seconds.
This ensures that Surface shuts down instead of just going to sleep.
Step 2:  Next, press the Power button to turn Surface back on.

If shutting down Surface and turning it back on doesn’t help, use the two-button shutdown process.

Warning

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

Step 1:  First, turn Surface off. Swipe in from the right and tap or click Settings, tap or click Power, and then 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 the volume-up button and the power button on your Surface at the same time for at least 15 seconds, then release both.
The screen may flash the Surface logo, but continue holding the buttons down for at least 15 seconds.
Step 3:  After you release the buttons, wait 10 seconds.
Step 4:  Press and release the power button to turn your Surface back on.

If shutting down Surface and turning it back on doesn't help, contact us.

If the problem you are having is that Surface gets stuck when you are trying to turn it off, you should also use the two-button shutdown process to ensure Surface is turned off completely.

Windows doesn't start

If you turn on Surface and Windows doesn't start correctly, it may display a screen that offers you one or more options to try to get Surface running normally again. The screen that Windows displays depends on the kind of problem it encountered when it tried to start. The screens that you might see include:

Recovery screen

When Surface displays the Recovery screen:

Step 1:  Tap or click See advanced repair options.
Step 2:  Tap or click Automatic Repair, then follow the instructions on the screen.
Windows will try to fix the problem that kept Windows from starting.

Automatic repair screen

When Surface displays the Automatic repair screen:

  • Tap or click the Restore button, and follow the instructions on the screen. Windows will restore your Surface Pro to an earlier point in time when Windows was working correctly.

System restore will not change your personal data, but it might remove some apps that were installed recently.

Choose an option screen

If Surface detects a problem during a previous startup, it may start with a menu of options to help you troubleshoot the problem.

When Surface displays the Choose an option screen:

Step 1: Tap or click Troubleshoot.
Step 2:  Tap or click Advanced Options.
Step 3:  Tap or click System Restore, and follow the instructions on the screen.

Windows will restore your Surface Pro to an earlier point in time when Windows was working correctly.

Restoring Surface Pro doesn’t change your personal files, but it might remove recently installed apps and drivers.

Note
Make sure you have access to product keys and installation files for all desktop apps (for example, Microsoft Office) that may have been installed after the point in time to which you’re restoring Surface Pro.

If the Choose an option screen displays for a second time after you restored your Surface:

Step 1:  Tap or click Troubleshoot.
Step 2:  Tap or click Refresh.

Refreshing Surface keeps your personal files, settings, and any apps that came with your Surface and those that you’ve installed from the Windows Store. Desktop apps you installed on Surface Pro will be deleted, but you can reinstall them after refreshing Surface.

Notes
  • 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 installed on Surface Pro. Other apps and your settings will be gone. You can reinstall them after the refresh is complete.
  • You’ll need to reinstall desktop apps from the websites or from the discs that you used to install those apps. Before you refresh Surface, make sure you have access to product keys and installation files for desktop apps that you want to reinstall (for example, Microsoft Office.)

If refreshing Surface doesn't fix the problem and the Choose an option screen is displayed again, you’ll need to reset your Surface.

Important

Things you need to know before you reset your Surface:

  • A reset reinstalls Windows, but removes your personal files, settings and apps that did not come installed on your Surface. Reset keeps the apps that came installed on your Surface.
  • Make sure that you have access to the product keys and installation files for any desktop apps (for example, Microsoft Office) that you plan to reinstall after the reset. This includes desktop apps you installed from websites, discs, or USB drives.
  • 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.
Step 1:  From the Choose an option screen, tap or click Troubleshoot.
Step 2:  Tap or click Reset your PC, and follow the instructions on the screen.

Error icon screen

If your Surface starts, but Windows doesn't, you may see an icon on the screen. Here's what the icons mean, and what you should do:

temperature error icon
Surface is too hot.
Turn Surface off for about 5 minutes and move it to a cooler place.
Surface is designed to work between 32° and 95° Fahrenheit (0° and 35° Celsius).
Low-battery error icon
The battery is critically low.
Attach the power supply and charge Surface.
For more info, see Surface Pro battery and power.
Broken padlock icon
A certificate is corrupted.
Shut down Surface:
Press the power button on your Surface and hold it down for 30 seconds, then press the power button again to turn Surface back on.

Windows stops responding in a certain app

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

Install Surface and Windows updates

Make sure you have the latest updates for Surface and Windows. See Install Surface and Windows updates.

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 Pro.

Run the App troubleshooter

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

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 then tap or click it.
Step 3:  Scroll to the Details section of the app's description page, 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.

Need more help troubleshooting apps?

For more help troubleshooting apps, see:

Windows stops responding

If Windows stops responding and the problem does not appear to be related to a particular app, there are several options you can try to get things working again.

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 installing the latest Surface and Windows updates.

Install Surface and Windows updates

Step 1:  From the Start screen, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, then tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, then click Settings.)
Step 2:  Tap or click Change PC Settings, tap or click Update and recovery, then tap or click Windows Update.
Step 3:  Tap or click Check now.
Step 4:  If there are updates available, tap or click View details.
Step 5:  Tap or click to select the updates you want, then tap or click Install.
You may need to restart Surface after the updates have been installed. For more info on updates, see Install Surface and Windows updates.

If installing updates doesn't help to get Surface running normally, use Windows Defender to scan Surface for viruses.

Scan Surface with Windows Defender

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge, then tap Search.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, then 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, tap or click to choose a scan option, then tap or click Scan now.

For more info on features built into Window RT 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 isn't working and you've scanned for and removed any viruses, try refreshing or resetting your Surface.

Disable fast startup

Fast startup is a setting that helps Windows 8.1 start up 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, then 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 after disabling fast startup, try using the two-button shutdown.

Two-button shutdown

Warning
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 and tap or click Settings, tap or click Power, then 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, then release both.

The screen may flash the Surface logo, but continue holding the buttons down for at least 15 seconds.

Step 3:  After you release the buttons, wait 10 seconds.
Step 4:  Press and release the power button again to turn your Surface back on.

If Windows still isn’t running right, try Restore, refresh, or reset Surface.

Restore, refresh, or reset Surface

If you're still having problems with Windows on your Surface, 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 your Surface reinstalls Windows and keeps your personal files, settings, apps that came installed on your Surface and those you've installed from the Windows Store. Desktop apps you installed on Surface Pro 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 installed on Surface Pro. Other apps and your settings will be gone. You can reinstall them after the refresh is complete.

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

Reset Surface

Resetting your Surface reinstalls Windows, but removes your personal files, settings, and apps that did not come installed on your 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, refresh or reset Surface Pro.


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