Simple Steps to Restore or Reset Your Surface

If you get problems with your Surface, try Restore or Reset your Surface to solve the problem like if your Surface isn’t running as quickly, try one of these recovery options.

Reset Surface

Resetting lets you choose whether to keep your files or remove them, and then it reinstall Windows. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Start  and select Settings  > Update & security > Recovery.
  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

We recommend trying this option first unless you’re donating, recycling, or selling your Surface.

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.

Can’t sign in or start Windows?

If you forgot your password, try retrieving it before performing a reset:

  • If you remember your password but it isn’t working, make sure that Caps Lock is turned off and that your email address is spelled correctly.
  • Clear your browser history, or try signing in to your account from a different internet browser.
  • Make sure that you’re connected to the Internet and that you have a strong network connection. If you have both of those and are still having trouble, we recommend trying to connect using a hard-wired ethernet port, if it’s available.
  • If you’ve recently changed your password, try entering your old one again. If your old password works, you must lock your device and then unlock it using your new password.

If you can’t remember your password, reset it:

  1. Go to the Reset your password page.
  2. Choose the reason you need your password reset, then click Next.
  3. Enter the email address, phone number or Skype ID you used when you made your Microsoft account. This could be any email address, or an email ending in a Microsoft domain like or
  4. Enter the characters you see on the screen (this lets us know you’re not a robot), then click Next.
  5. If you have security info on your account, we’ll send a one-time code to the alternate phone number or email address you gave us. After you enter that code on the next screen, you’ll be able to make a new password.

You can also get to the reset option by restarting your Surface from the sign-in screen:

  1. Press the Windows key L to get to the sign-in screen. If you need to, dismiss the lock screen.
  2. Hold the Shift key down while you select Power > Restart in the lower-right corner of the screen.
  3. After your Surface restarts to the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Reset this PC.

Go back to previous version of Windows

If you recently upgraded to a newer version of Windows and it isn’t working for you, try going back. This will keep your personal files, but it’ll remove apps and drivers installed since upgrading, as well as any changes you made to settings.

How to go back to your previous version of Windows on your Surface:

  • Go to Start  and select Settings  > Update & security > Recovery.
  • Under Go back to the previous version of Windows 10, select Get started. If you don’t see this section, too much time has elapsed since you upgraded, and you can no longer go back.

Use a recovery drive to reinstall Windows

Recovery drive can help you troubleshoot and fix problems with your Surface, even if it won’t start. To create one, all you need is a USB drive.
  • From the taskbar, search for Create a recovery drive and then select it. You might be asked to enter an admin password or confirm your choice.

  • When the tool opens, make sure Back up system files to the recovery drive is selected and then select Next.

  • Connect a USB drive to your PC, select it, and then select Next > Create. A lot of files need to be copied to the recovery drive, so this might take a while.

  • When it’s done, you might see a Delete the recovery partition from your PC link on the final screen. If you want to free up drive space on your PC, select the link and then select Delete. If not, select Finish.

After finish to create the recovery drive, be sure to eject the drive using the Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media icon on the Windows taskbar. When the prompt pops up, insert the recovery drive into the USB port on your Surface. Learn more: How to use a recovery drive to restore or reset your PC.

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