The Windows Club

How to Restore, Refresh, Reset Surface Pro devices

Keeping aside the fact how user-friendly Windows-based systems are, everybody will agree that maintaining it is something which cannot be overlooked. We may run into serious problems which need immediate troubleshooting. If the problem is of a serious level, we may need to carry out certain operations – and so it is always good to know remedies to deal with before hand. Fortunately, every Windows system comes with certain problem-solving mechanisms which can be a lifesaver at times.

If you are using a Surface Pro device and running Windows 10 OS, then this tutorial, based on steps suggested by Microsoft on how to restore, reset, downgrade and reinstall Windows 10 on your Surface device, is sure to interest you.

Restore Surface Pro from a System Restore Point

A System Restore Point is a saved state of your system files. If you ran into a problem, you can restore your system to a previous good point in time, using this feature. Even though Windows will create restore points automatically time to time, it is always advisable to create it manually every now and then, especially if you are making some changes to your system.

Here is how you can restore your Surface Pro from a system restore point:

  1. Press and hold the Start button and select Control Panel .
  2. Head over to the search box present at upper right corner, enter recovery.
  3. Select it, and navigate to Recovery > Open System Restore > Next.
  4. Here you will see the list of restore points. select the appropriate one, click Next  > Finish.

When you do this, you are taking your system to a previous state which means any installations, drives, updates performed in the mean time would get deleted.

If Restore Points are not available

If you cannot find any restore points in your system, then you can solve your problem by resetting your Surface device. Right after resetting Windows, make sure that System Protection is turned on, by following these steps:

  1. Right-click or Press and hold on Start and select Control Panel .
  2. Head over to the search box present at upper right corner, enter recovery.
  3. Navigate to Configure System Restore > Configure .
  4. Select Turn on System Protection check-box.

If you cannot sign in to Windows

If you cannot sign into your system, you can restore your system in the Windows Recovery Environment.

  1. On the Windows sign in screen, select Power .
  2. Press and hold Shift and Alt Keys and select Restart .
  3. You would see Choose an option screen. Select Troubleshoot .
  4. Go to Advanced Options > System Restore .
  5. Enter a recovery key, if asked. Select the target Operating System, and click Next .
  6. Select a restore point, select Next >Finish.
  7. When prompted to continue, select Yes.

You would be able to start your system, once the process gets completed.

If you cannot start Windows

If you cannot start your Surface device at all because of a problem, you may want to perform system restore in the Windows Recovery Environment, by following these steps –

  1. Start your Surface Pro with a USB recovery drive. To do so, insert a bootable USB drive (formatted to the FAT32 file system) into your USB port. Press and hold Volume down key, while you press and release the Power button. You will see the Surface logo.Then release the Volume down button.
  2. Windows will prompt you for language and keyboard layout. Select them appropriately.
  3. Navigate to Troubleshoot >Advanced Options > System Restore .
  4. If asked for recovery key, enter it. After that, select the target operating system and click Next .
  5. Choose the appropriate restore point.
  6. Select Next  > Finish to complete the wizard.

When the process is completed, you will be able to start your Surface.

Reset Surface Pro

Resetting allows you to reinstall Windows. You can choose whether to keep your files or delete them whole doing so. This comes handy when the system isn’t working well and you didn’t install anything new for a considerable amount of time. Adding to that, Resetting is the next step you want to do when Restoring doesn’t solve the problem you are having. Follow below steps to reset your Surface Pro:

  1. Go to Start and navigate to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery.
  2. Select Reset this PC and select Get Started and select the appropriate option among the displayed three. Here is what each of them does:
    • Keep my files : This option will reinstall Windows 10 to your Surface Pro keeping personal files and apps that your PC came with. But it removes the changes made to settings and installed apps and drivers.
    • Remove everything: As the name implies, this is cleaning everything. If you choose this, all your personal files would get removed along with changes you’ve made to settings and apps/drivers you’ve installed. Be careful while selecting this as you may never be able to revert/recover it.
    • Restore Factory settings : This option turns your system as it is the day you got it by reinstalling the OS and any apps which came with it. It removes personal files, changes to settings and apps/drivers you’ve installed.

You need to note that if you upgraded to Windows 10 and reset your Surface Pro within a month after the upgrade, downgrading to a previous version isn’t possible, unless you took some steps that would let you downgrade even after 30 days.

Read more details on how to Reset Windows 10.

If you cannot sign in to Windows

For some reason, if you cannot sign in into your System, you can reset your Surface Pro from Recovery environment.

  1. Select Power on windows Sign-in screen.
  2. Select and hold down Shift and Alt keys on your keyboard, and select Restart .
  3. You would see Choose an option screen, choose Troubleshoot.
  4. Select Rest this PC, and select appropriate option Remove Everything or Keep my files .

If you cannot start Surface

If you cannot start Windows at all on your Surface Pro, then you may want to reset it from Windows Recovery Environment. Follow these steps

  1. Start your surface Pro with a USB recovery drive. To do so, insert a bootable USB drive (formatted to the FAT32 file system) into your USB port. Press and hold volume down key while you press and release the power button. You would see a surface logo, then release the volume down button.
  2. >Windows prompts you for language and keyboard layout. Select them appropriately.
  3. Select Troubleshoot > Reset this PC. Choose Keep my files or Remove everything.

After the wizard completes, you would be able to use the system normally.

Downgrade to Previous Version of Windows

If you want to install a previous version of Windows, you can rollback from Windows 10. This option would be available only to those who upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 that too within a month time right after the upgrade. The important thing here which needs a mention is if you reset your System within a month, this option wouldn’t be available to you either – unless you took some steps that would let you downgrade even after 30 days. Another thing is that, some apps that came with Windows like Mail and People might not work if you go back to Windows 8.1 and you may need to reinstall them. Follow below steps to go back –

To go back to Previous version, you may need to do a couple of things.

1] Keep everything in the $Windows.~BT, $Windows.~WS and Windows.old folders after the upgrade.

2] Remove user accounts you’ve added after the upgrade.

3] Keep the password you’ve used for your previous version to be able to sign in, if any.

4] Keep the USB stick yu used to upgrade, ready with you.

If Go Back isn’t available

If the Surface Pro you’ve bought came with Windows 10, then go back isn’t an option. If you ran into a problem, all you can do is resetting your machine to Factory settings. Refer section above to know how to do that. If you have a recovery drive before upgrading to Windows 10, you can use that as well to restore it to factory settings (discussed in the section that follows), even if the option isn’t available in settings.

If you are a Windows Insider

If you a member of Windows Insider program and running a preview build, if ran into a problem then navigate to Start > Settings > Update&Security > Recovery . Under Go back to an earlier build, select Get Started .

Use a Recovery Drive to Reinstall Windows

You can use this mechanism when a recovery drive is available to you and your system won’t start because of a problem. Follow these steps to use it in your Surface Pro running Windows 10.

  1. First, make sure you Shut down your Surface and plug it in. Now, insert the USB recovery drive into a USB port.
  2. While pressing and releasing the power button, press and hold down the volume down key. When you see a Surface logo getting appeared on the screen, you can release the volume-down button.
  3. Select the appropriate language and keyboard layout. After that, you would see a Choose an option screen, wherein,select Troubleshoot > Recover from a drive. If Windows asks for a recovery key, you can simply select Skip this drive present at the bottom of the screen.
  4. After that, choose Fully clean the drive or Just Remove my files as needed. Select Recovery.

Depending on the option you’ve selected, the wizard would run for several minutes. If it prompts to change your TPM, simply select OK. One important thing which needs a mention here is if you choose not to back up system files when you created a recovery drive on Windows 10, then you cannot be able to use that to reinstall Windows.

All the best.