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How to Reset a Microsoft Surface Tablet

Authored by:
Support.com Tech Pro Team
This Guided Path® was written and reviewed by Support.com’s Tech Pro team. With decades of experience, our Tech Pros are passionate about making technology work for you. We love feedback! Let us know what you think about this Guided Path® by rating it at the end.

Introduction

If you intend to sell or give your computer to someone else, or if there are severe problems with the way the computer is working, you can factory reset it to its defaults to start fresh.

You will lose all programs and customizations you've made to your computer. This is not necessary for normal operation of your computer. Factory reset is permanent, and there is no way to go back.

Microsoft Surface Pro tablet.

1 Factory Reset Backup Check

It is important to remember that after the factory reset, your computer will not have any of the custom programs, or settings. It is also very likely you will lose any data, pictures, or videos you have on your computer.

Before proceeding, make sure you have the following:

  • Names of all the programs you use on a regular basis, so you can re-install them.
    • For any registered software you've purchased, make sure you have the installation disks or download locations, and registration codes associated with them.
  • A backup, or second copy, of any data on your computer. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • Pictures you have saved on your computer.
    • Videos you have saved on your computer.
    • Documents you have saved on your computer.
    • Bookmarks or favorites from your browser.

Finally, after making your backups, test them to make sure they are current, and that they work.

  • Open a few files from your backups, and make sure what you expect to see is there.
  • Open a few files you've changed recently in your backups, and make sure they open properly and have the information you changed recently.

While there is an option to save your data files during the factory reset, it is not good to rely on this.
It is safest to assume that anything not backed up will be lost with no way to retrieve it during the factory reset process.

? Do you want to make a backup now?

  1. Yes
  2. No

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If you intend to sell or give your computer to someone else, or if there are severe problems with the way the computer is working, you can factory reset it to its defaults to start fresh.

You will lose all programs and customizations you've made to your computer. This is not necessary for normal operation of your computer. Factory reset is permanent, and there is no way to go back.

Microsoft Surface Pro tablet.

It is important to remember that after the factory reset, your computer will not have any of the custom programs, or settings. It is also very likely you will lose any data, pictures, or videos you have on your computer.

Before proceeding, make sure you have the following:

  • Names of all the programs you use on a regular basis, so you can re-install them.
    • For any registered software you've purchased, make sure you have the installation disks or download locations, and registration codes associated with them.
  • A backup, or second copy, of any data on your computer. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • Pictures you have saved on your computer.
    • Videos you have saved on your computer.
    • Documents you have saved on your computer.
    • Bookmarks or favorites from your browser.

Finally, after making your backups, test them to make sure they are current, and that they work.

  • Open a few files from your backups, and make sure what you expect to see is there.
  • Open a few files you've changed recently in your backups, and make sure they open properly and have the information you changed recently.

While there is an option to save your data files during the factory reset, it is not good to rely on this.
It is safest to assume that anything not backed up will be lost with no way to retrieve it during the factory reset process.

Windows 10 comes with its own backup software.

To begin you'll need an external drive.

  1. Connect your external hard drive to your computer.
  2. Select the Start menu in the corner of your screen, then select Settings.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Settings
  3. Select Update & Security.
    Updates and Security Settings
  4. Select Backup.
    Backup
  5. Make sure your external drive is connected and select Add a Drive.
    Add a drive
  6. Select the drive you want to backup your data to.
    List of drives
    Backups will start automatically, you do not have to make any other changes.
  7. Windows 10 will now make a backup every hour of C:\Users\<your username>.
  8. If you want to change these settings click More Options beneath Add a drive.

When you've exhausted all options in trying to fix a major issue with Windows, you may be left with resetting Windows to its original state your PC had right out of the box.

Depending on the reset method you choose, the process may delete all personal data and apps you have saved on the PC. If you need to back up all your personal data make sure you do so before proceeding.

  1. Click the Start button then select Settings from the menu.
    Start button and Settings option highlighted in Windows 10 menu.
  2. Click Update & Security.
    Settings with update and security highlighted.
  3. Choose Recovery on the left.
    Update and security settings with recover highlighted.
  4. On the top right, click Get started under Reset this PC.
    Recovery settings with reset this PC highlighted.
  5. In the new window that opens, choose if you want to keep your files, or remove everything.
    Reset this PC options.
    • Keep my files should not delete any personal files you have stored on your computer, but will remove all applications you've installed, as well as all settings you've changed.
      • You will be given a short list of programs Windows can find that will be removed, reminding you that you'll need to re-install them after the reset if you want to use those programs. Click Next when you are ready to begin.
        Dialog showing apps to be removed with next button highlighted.
    • Remove everything will delete your personal files, applications you've installed, and all settings will be set to their default values.
      • You'll be presented with options to just remove files, or clean the drive.
        Drive cleaning options.
        • If you're keeping the computer and are not worried about someone attempting to retrieve data from the drive, select Just remove my files.
        • If you are selling or giving away the computer, choosing Remove files and clean the drive will make it much harder to retrieve anything. This process will take a very long time to complete.
  6. Once you make your choice, you will be given a final list of what will be done. Click Reset when you are ready.

    There is no going back, and no chance to retrieve anything removed during the reset process. Please make absolutely sure your backups are up to date before pressing Reset.

    Details of what will be done during reset.
  7. Once you click Reset, the process will start.
    Reset in progress.
  8. Your computer will reboot, and give you the progress of the reset at the bottom.
    Reset in progress during reboot.

Windows will guide you through setting it up with your username, password and other basic settings, just like when you first purchased your computer.

If the Issue Persists