Applies to

Surface RT, Surface 2, Windows RT 8.1.


Refresh or reset Surface RT or Surface 2

If you're having a problem with your Surface, you may be able to refresh or reset it and solve the problem.


Before you begin

To perform a refresh or reset you’ll need to check a few things first.

Is your Surface touchscreen working?

If you're having problems with your Surface touchscreen, connect a keyboard, such as a Surface Cover or USB keyboard, before trying these solutions.

Is Windows loading?

If you’re having trouble getting Windows to start on your Surface, you may not be able to perform the steps to refresh or reset. See Surface RT or Surface 2: Windows won't start or stops responding for help with Windows startup issues first.

Solution 1: Refresh your Surface RT or Surface 2

Refreshing Surface reinstalls Windows and keeps your personal files, settings, apps that came installed on your Surface and those that you’ve installed from the Windows Store.

To refresh Surface RT or Surface 2

There are two ways to refresh Surface:

  • Refresh from within Windows: If Windows loads and you can sign in, you can perform the refresh from within Windows.
  • Refresh from USB recovery media: If Windows fails to start and you have USB recovery media available, you can perform the refresh by using your USB.

Refresh from within Windows

Step 1: Plug in your Surface so that you don’t run out of power during the refresh.
Step 2: Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings.)
Step 3: Tap or click Change PC settings.
Step 4: Tap or click Update and recovery, and then tap or click Recovery.
Step 5: Under Refresh your PC without affecting your files, tap or click Get started.
Step 6: Tap or click Next, ensure that your Surface is plugged in, and tap or click Refresh.
Step 7: Surface restarts and the Surface logo displays while the refresh process completes.
(This can take several minutes.)

Refresh from USB recovery media

Note
To learn how to create a USB recovery drive, see Create a USB recovery drive.

Refresh your Surface from a USB recovery drive by following these steps:

Step 1: Shutdown Surface and plug it in so that you don’t run out of power during the refresh.
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 button.
Step 5: When prompted, select the language and keyboard layout you want.
Step 6: Tap or click Troubleshoot, tap or click Refresh your PC, and then tap or click the target operating system you wish to refresh.
Step 7: On the Refresh your PC screen, tap or click Next, and then tap or click Refresh.
Step 8: Surface restarts and the Surface logo displays while the refresh process completes.
(This can take several minutes.)

Solution 2: Reset your Surface RT or Surface 2

Warning
A reset returns Surface to its factory settings:
  • A reset reinstalls Windows and apps that came installed on Surface.
  • All of your personal files will be deleted and your settings will be reset. All apps that you installed will be removed. For info on backing up your files, see Back up photos, documents, and more.
  • After a reset, you’ll be able to set up Surface as if it were brand new.

To reset Surface RT or Surface 2

There are three ways to reset Surface.

Reset from within Windows

Step 1: Plug in your Surface so that you don’t run out of power during the refresh.
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, click Settings.)
Step 3: Tap or click Change PC settings.
Step 4: Tap or click Update and recovery, and then tap or click Recovery.
Step 5: Under Remove everything and reinstall Windows, tap or click Get started.
Step 6: Tap or click Next.
Step 7: 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 8: Tap or click Reset.
Surface restarts and the Surface logo displays while the reset process completes (this can take several minutes).

Reset from the Windows sign-in screen

Notes
  • If you’ve lost your password, you may not have to reset your Surface. See I forgot my password before performing these reset steps.
  • If you don't have a keyboard connected to Surface, you'll need to use the on-screen keyboard to do these reset steps. From the Windows sign-in screen, tap or click the Ease of access icon Ease of access icon in the lower-left corner of the screen, and then tap or click On-Screen Keyboard.
Step 1: Plug in Surface so that you don’t run out of power during the refresh.
Step 2: From the Windows sign-in screen, tap or click the Power Power icon button in the lower right corner of the sign-in screen.
Step 3: Press and hold the Shift key.
(If you're using the on-screen keyboard, tap or click the Shift key.)
Step 4: While the Shift key is still pressed, tap or click Restart.
If you get the prompt Restart anyway, tap or click Restart anyway.
After Surface restarts, the Choose an option screen will display.
Step 5: Tap or click Troubleshoot.
Step 6: Tap or click Reset your PC.
Surface restarts and the Surface logo displays while Windows prepares to reset your Surface.
Step 7: On the Reset your PC screen, tap or click Next.
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 choose to clean the drive. If you are keeping your Surface, you just need to remove your files.
Step 9: Tap or click Reset.
Surface restarts and the Surface logo displays while the reset process completes (this can take several minutes).

Reset from USB recovery media

Note
To learn how to create a USB recovery drive, see Create a USB recovery drive.

Reset your Surface from the USB recovery drive by following these steps:

Step 1: Shutdown Surface and plug it in so that you don’t run out of power during the refresh.
Step 2: Press and hold the volume-down button while you press and release the power button on your Surface.
Step 3: When the Surface logo appears, release the volume-down button.
Step 4: When prompted, select the language and keyboard layout you want.
Step 5: Tap or click Troubleshoot, and then tap or click Reset your PC.
Step 6: If prompted for a recovery key, tap or click Skip this drive at the bottom of the screen.
Step 7: Tap or click the target operating system you wish to reset. This refers to the current operating system installed on Surface.
Step 8: Tap or click Yes, repartition the drives. On the next page, tap or click Next.
Step 9: 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 10: Tap or click Reset.
Surface restarts and the Surface logo displays while the reset process continues.
(This can take several minutes.)
Step 11: Surface 2 only: After restart, Surface may prompt you to clear this computer’s TPM (Trusted Platform Module). Press F12 or volume-up button to clear TPM.
Step 12: Surface will continue the reset process.
(This can take several minutes.)

After the reset

Here’s what to do after you’ve reset your Surface:

  • Complete the Surface setup steps, such as selecting your region and language.
  • Sign in with the same Microsoft account you were using before so that things like the Windows Store apps you’ve purchased will be available to reinstall. For more info, see All about accounts.
  • Check for important updates. See Install Surface and Windows Updates.
  • Reinstall Windows Store apps. From the Start screen, tap or click Store. Swipe down from the top edge of the screen (or right-click your mouse), and tap or click Your apps. Select the apps you want to install and then tap or click Install.


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