Applies to

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

How to prepare your Surface for service

If you need to send your Surface in for service, there are a few things you need to do first.

Things to know before you begin

What happens to the data on my Surface?

When you send your Surface to our service center, everything on your Surface is erased. Microsoft is not responsible for the loss of data during the service process.

For info about backing up your files and settings, see Make a new PC like a lost or damaged PC.

What if my Surface doesn’t turn on?

If your Surface won’t turn on, you won’t be able to back up your files stored on Surface. If you’ve been using OneDrive, File History, or another backup option, you’ll be able to restore your files once you receive your Surface from the service center.

Things you don’t need to back up

  • Windows Store apps. Apps that you installed from the Windows Store can be easily reinstalled.
  • Apps on Surface Pro models and Surface 3. You will need to reinstall any apps you installed on Surface Pro or Surface 3 that didn’t come from the Windows Store.
  • Mail, Calendar, and People accounts. Any email, calendar, and contacts from places like, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are stored in the cloud and will sync to your Surface after you sign in with your Microsoft account.
  • Note
    If you’re using the Outlook app to connect to your email account, you may be using Outlook Data Files (.pst and .ost files). You'll need to back these files up manually. For more info, see Introduction to Outlook Data Files.
  • Microsoft Office. If your original Surface came with an edition of Office, the same edition will be there when we return Surface to you.
  • Files already saved to OneDrive. Office documents and other files that you saved on OneDrive don’t need to be backed up.

Step 1: Sync your settings to OneDrive

To sync settings to OneDrive, you must sign in to Surface with a Microsoft account (or, for Surface Pro or Surface 3, if you have connected a Microsoft account to your network domain account at work). This way your personal settings and preferences are stored in OneDrive, and are synced to any PC that you sign into.

  • If your account is a local account, your settings can’t be synced to OneDrive.
  • Your Surface needs to be connected to the Internet in order to sync your settings to OneDrive.

Your settings include things like your Start screen layout, colors, themes, language preferences, browser history and favorites, and Windows Store app settings. Here’s how to sync your settings:

Step 1: Sign into Surface with your Microsoft account.
Step 2: 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 3: Tap or click Change PC settings.
Step 4: Tap or click OneDrive, and tap or click Sync settings.
Step 5: Make sure Sync your settings on this PC is set to On.
Step 6: Turn on all the settings that you want synced to the cloud.
Step 7: Turn on Back up your settings for this PC to back up settings that apply only to the Surface you’re using and any settings not set to On from Step 4.
Step 8: Repeat Steps 1 through 6 for each account on your Surface.

Step 2: Back up and manually erase your files

Use OneDrive

When you save files to OneDrive, you can access them from any device.

You can copy or move files from your Surface to OneDrive from either the OneDrive app or from File Explorer. If you share your Surface with other people who have accounts on your Surface, everyone who has an account will need to sign in and copy or move their files to their own OneDrive. For more info about using OneDrive, see Using OneDrive on Surface.

Make sure that any files you recently added to Surface have synced to OneDrive. Go to and sign in with the same Microsoft account you use on Surface. Once there, verify that you’re not missing any files and that your files are up-to-date.

Use manual backup for Outlook Data Files

If you’re using the Outlook app to connect to your email account, you may be using Outlook Data Files (.pst and .ost files) that you should back up manually.

In Outlook 2013, here’s how to access the folder where your Outlook Data File is saved:

Step 1: In Outlook, click the File tab.
Step 2: Click Account Settings, and click Account Settings.
Step 3: On the Data Files tab, click an entry where the Location has a file ending in PST, and click Open Folder Location.
Step 4: In File Explorer, copy the Outlook Data Files to another storage location, like a USB flash drive.

Outlook Data Files created by using Outlook 2013 are saved on your computer in the Documents\Outlook Files folder. If you upgraded to Outlook 2013 on a computer that already had data files that were created in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 or earlier, these files are saved in a different location in a hidden folder at drive:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook.

For more information, see Introduction to Outlook data files.

Other backup options

There are a few other options for backing up your files:

  • File History. If you set up File History for each account on your Surface, then File History has been backing up your files for you. To learn more about File History, see Restore files or folders using File History.
  • File Explorer. You can manually copy files from your Documents, Videos, Pictures, and Music libraries to another storage location from within File Explorer in Windows.
  • HomeGroup. You can share and store files on a home network. Learn about HomeGroup from start to finish.

Can I manually erase all my data before sending in my Surface?

Yes. The data on your Surface is erased as part of the service process. If you prefer, you can erase your data yourself before sending us your Surface.

To erase your data:

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, tap or click Update and recovery, and then tap or click Recovery.
Step 3: Under Remove everything and reinstall Windows, tap or click Get started.

Step 3: Remove accessories

Before you send us your Surface, make sure you remove all of the following, unless Surface Support has specifically told you to include them with your Surface return:

  • Surface Cover (for example Touch Cover, Type Cover)
  • USB devices including a keyboard, mouse or flash drive
  • Memory card from the microSD card slot
  • The power supply
  • Headphones, audio adapter, and other audio cables
  • Video adapter and other video cables
  • Any pens you use with Surface
  • SIM card from Surface 2 with mobile broadband (4G)