How to Reset a Surface Pro, Go, Laptop, or Book

If your Surface is acting up, try restoring it to its factory settings

If you're having a lot of problems with your Surface Pro, Surface Go, Surface Laptop, or Surface Book, performing a factory reset may be the solution.

Doing a Surface factory reset, also referred to as a hard reset, removes all user data and essentially reverts the device to the state it was in when you first received it. Resetting your Surface Pro, or other Windows 10 device, is a major decision and is not to be confused with the Restart option in the Start Menu which just turns your computer off and on again.

A factory reset can be used for fixing major technical problems on your Surface or for removing all of your data so you can sell or give it to someone else to use. Here's everything you need to know about doing a hard reset on Surface Pro.

What Happens During a Surface Factory Reset?

All modern Surface computers, from Surface Pro to Surface Laptop, ship with the Windows 10 operating system pre-installed. When performing a reset on a Surface running Windows 10, the following will occur:

  • All of your files will be deleted.
  • All of the apps will be uninstalled.
  • Any drivers you installed will be deleted.
  • Changes you've made to the system settings, such as Windows 10 brightness settings, will be reset.

When Should I Do a Surface Hard Reset?

Resetting your Windows device should be considered as a last resort. Many problems associated with a Surface device can often be solved by simply performing a restart or updating the operating system and apps to the latest versions. It's worth trying these, and any other potential solutions, before performing a reset.

Things to Do Before Resetting Your Surface

Resetting your Surface is a major action that essentially wipes your entire presence from the device; it's important to be properly prepared before beginning the reset process.

  • Backup files: In most reset cases, all of your files will be deleted, so make sure you've copied everything you want to keep to an external storage device. Windows 10 does provide a reset option that claims to keep personal files, but it's a good idea to back everything up just in case.
  • Cloud Services: If you use a cloud service such as OneDrive or Google Drive, make sure your Surface is connected to the internet and has properly synced all of your files. Once your reset is finished, you can log into your cloud accounts and all of your files should sync to your Windows device once again.
  • Other Windows 10 Users: If multiple users use your Windows 10 computer, inform them about the reset and make sure they've backed up all of their data as well.
  • Plug your Windows device in: This is extremely important. If your device's battery runs out of power during the reset process, you may experience major errors or even file corruption.

How to Factory Reset a Surface Pro, Book, or Laptop

Now that you know what a factory reset affects and have prepared your system for the process, it's time to actually perform the reset.

Screenshot of the system reset option on a Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, and Surface Book.
The option to reset your Surface device is hidden within the Windows 10 Settings app.
  1. Select the small square icon in the bottom-right of the screen to open the Windows 10 Action Center. Alternatively, swipe in from the right side of the screen with your finger to open the Action Center.

  2. Select All settings to open the Settings app.

  3. After the Settings app opens, select Update & Security.

  4. From the menu on the left, select Recovery.

  5. On the next screen, under the Reset this PC section, select the Get started button.

  6. You'll be provided with two options: Keep my files and Remove everything. Both will perform a factory reset and will delete your apps and settings.

    Keep my files will keep your personal files on your Surface, while Remove everything will delete them along with the apps and settings.

  7. If you happen to have more than one drive on your Surface device, you'll be asked if you wish to reset only the main drive where Windows 10 is installed or all of the connected drives.

    Select either Only the drive where Windows is installed or All drives to continue.

    If you don't see this option, it's because your Surface only has one drive. That's perfectly fine and you can continue to the next step.

  8. Select either Just remove my files or Remove files and clean the drive. Both options will reset your Surface by deleting your files (if chosen earlier), apps, and settings.

    Just remove my files is the fastest option and is recommended if you're planning to continue using the Surface device yourself.

    Remove files and clean the drive takes longer but makes it harder for your personal files to be recovered by someone else if you're giving your Surface away or selling it.

  9. Finally, you'll be shown a screen summarizing all of your reset preferences chosen in the previous steps.

    Select Restore to begin the reset process or cancel to start again from the beginning and choose different settings.

  10. Your Surface device will now begin the reset process. Once ready, your computer will restart as a brand new Windows 10 device.

If you're unable to log into your Surface computer from the Windows 10 sign-in screen, you can still activate the above reset method. On the sign-in screen, hold down the Shift key while selecting the Restart option. Your Surface will then reboot and you'll be provided with a new screen with the option for Troubleshoot. Select it, then choose Reset this PC to begin the reset.

How to Factory Reset a Windows 8 Surface

If you happen to own an older Surface model that's running either the Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 operating system, you can still perform a reset by doing the following.

A reset is referred to as a refresh in Windows 8 and 8.1.

  1. Open the Settings app by swiping your finger in from the right side of the screen, then tap the Settings icon.

  2. Go to Change PC settings > Update and recovery > Recovery.

  3. Tap the Get started button under either Refresh your PC without affecting your files or Remove everything and reinstall Windows.

    The first option is the same as the Windows 10 reset option and keeps your personal files but removes any apps or settings you've changed.

    The second is the same as a Windows 10 hard factory reset and removes everything from a device.

  4. Your device will now begin the refresh process. Once complete, you'll have what will feel like a brand new Windows 8 Surface!

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