Here’s how to easily reset Windows 10 on a Microsoft Surface

Perform a Windows reset on your Surface device with these quick tips

Surface Pro 6 Review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Once in a while, even our trustiest devices get bogged down or run into errors that require drastic measures. Whether it’s a slow system, corrupt files, or even lost account credentials, the best thing to do is set the device back to square one by resetting the OS.

Luckily, for Windows devices like the Microsoft Surface models, restoring factory settings can be easy. There are a few methods for resetting Windows 10 to the factory setting on your Surface. We’ve mapped out the steps for completing the operation a number of different ways: From within Windows, through the Windows Sign-In screen, or using a USB device.

Note: Before jumping straight to the system reset option, be sure to troubleshoot your device and see if your issues can be solved in another way.  We’ve detailed the steps for each method below. Remember, we’re talking about a full factory reset, here. That means wiping all personal files, and restoring the system and all apps to their basic settings. If you’re able to, be sure to back up any and all files you want to to keep around. Otherwise, you’ll be starting from scratch.

From within Windows 10

Step 1: Pull up the Start menu and select or search for Settings.

Windows Update and Security

Step 2: In Settings, select Updates and Security, and then Recovery. Look for the Reset this PC option and find the button that says Get Started. Select it when you are ready.

Choose Reset Option

Step 3: From here, there will be a few options:

  1. Keep my files will keep your saved personal files. This is the quickest option, but if the issue stems from your personal files, it may not correct the problem.
  2. Remove everything. This deletes all of your files, personal settings, and installed apps.
  3. Restore factory settings, which deletes all files, apps, settings and reverts the device to the version of Windows that came factory installed. This option is only available for those who upgraded their devices from a previous version of Windows.

Make your selection, then follow the on-screen instructions. When prompted, select Next.

Reset This PC

Step 4: Select Reset. The reset operation will begin, and may take a few minutes. Allow the device enough time to complete the process.

Windows Sign-In (useful for restart issues)

Troubleshoot Windows PC

If you are having trouble logging into Windows or are plagued by constant restarts whenever you try to do anything, you may not be able to reset so easily. In this case, you can reset “from boot” without the need to actually sign in. This is useful for trying to fix the issue that’s keeping you from fully logging in.

Step 1: From the Sign In screen, hit the Power button on your Surface. Hold the Shift Key, and select Restart while still holding the key down.

Step 2: Wait for the Surface to fully restart. A new screen will pop up on startup. If asked, select Restart Anyway. You should now see a screen with a number of management options. Choose the one that says Reset your PC. When prompted, select Next.

Step 3: Here you will see the same options that resetting from inside Windows provides. Choose the best one for your situation.

  1. Keep my files will keep your saved personal files. This is the quickest option, but if the issue stems from your personal files, it may not correct the problem.
  2. Remove everything. This deletes all of your files, personal settings, and installed apps.
  3. Restore factory settings, which deletes all files, apps, settings and reverts the device to the version of Windows that came factory installed. This option is only available for those who upgraded their devices from a previous version of Windows.

Make your selection, then follow the on-screen instructions. When prompted, select Next.

Step 4: Select Reset. The reset operation will begin, and may take a few minutes. Give the device enough time for the reset operation to finish.

USB Device

Choose USB Reset Windows

When you try to reset Window, you may get a warning message that says something like Insert media: Files are missing. This can happen because file corruption or other serious problems. In this case, “insert media” means you should use a USB drive if you already have one ready.

Step 1: For this step, you may need to create a USB recovery drive for Windows 10. If you don’t have a recovery drive, it may not be possible to make one if your Surface is having serious problems like corrupted files. However, if Windows 10 is functioning more or less normally, you can try to create one with a spare USB drive. Simply search for Create a recovery drive in the Search Bar, select it, and following the instructions.

When you are ready, shut down your Surface entirely, and insert the USB device.

Step 2: Press the Volume down button and the Power button on your Surface simultaneously. As the computer restarts, release the Power button. When the Surface logo appears, release the Volume down button.

Step 3: You will be asked to select your input method and language. When finished, select Troubleshoot. Then choose Select Reset your PC. When prompted, select Next.

Step 4: Again, you get to pick your reset option. From here, there will be a few options:

  1. Keep my files will keep your saved personal files. This is the quickest option, but if the issue stems from your personal files, it may not correct the problem.
  2. Remove everything. This deletes all of your files, personal settings, and installed apps.
  3. Restore factory settings, which deletes all files, apps, settings and reverts the device to the version of Windows that came factory installed. This option is only available for those who upgraded their devices from a previous version of Windows.

Make your selection, then follow the on-screen instructions. When prompted, select Next.

Step 5: Select Reset. The Surface logo will appear and the reset operation will begin. This will take a few minutes, so be sure to allow the device enough time to complete the process.

After resetting to factory settings

After you complete the reset, you will need to perform the first-time system setup, just like when first activating the device. Once that is done, your Surface tablet will be as good as new. ready for donation or reselling or whatever other plans you may have for it.

Product Review

The Schlage Encode Wi-Fi smart lock shuts out the competition with looks, style

Easy to install and easy on the eye, Schlage Encode’s integrated Wi-Fi and third-party platform support make it a fine choice for the smart home. We took it for a test run to see how well it worked.
Mobile

Solve a galaxy of problems with a simple reset of your S10

If your Samsung smartphone is acting up, then you may want to try resetting it. We'll show you how to overcome simple issues with a soft reset and also how to tackle bigger problems or prep it for sale with a factory reset.
Mobile

These parental control apps will help keep your kids' device habits in check

Looking for extra security and monitoring on mobile devices? Take a look at the best parental control apps for limiting time and keeping watch on your child's phone usage and behavior. We have the top options for Android and iOS here.
Gaming

Wired headphones are so 2018. Here's how to pair a Bluetooth device to your PS4

One of the best aspects of modern consoles is how easily you can pair them with other devices. Here's our quick primer on how to connect a Bluetooth headset (or really any Bluetooth device) to your PlayStation 4.
Cars

Nvidia agrees with Tesla’s take on self-driving cars, but corrects specifics

Nvidia vice president Rob Csongor agreed with broad statements by Elon Musk at Tesla's April 22 Autonomy Investor Day. Csongor then took exception to what he termed were inaccuracies about Nvidia's self-driving car chip.
Product Review

Still waiting for a new Mac Pro? Corsair’s mini PC has all the power you'll need

With a modern 12-core Intel Core i9-9920X processor, Nvidia’s RTX 2080 Ti graphics, and 32GB of RAM, the Corsair One Pro is designed to woo creatives who demand more power from Apple’s Mac Pro. Like the Mac Pro, the best part of this PC…
Computing

Amal and George Clooney want to change the world. Can Microsoft help?

Microsoft and The Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ) unveiled the TrialWatch app Thursday morning, a new tool in CFJ’s ongoing TrialWatch effort to shine a light on injustice in courts around the globe – which too often are simply…
Computing

Tablet or notebook? Our favorite 2-in-1 PCs give you the best of both worlds

If you can’t decide if you need a tablet or a notebook, then don’t bother. The best 2-in-1 laptops are both, and they can provide all the power you need. Check out our list for the best 2-in-1s for any user.
Computing

These are the best 13-inch laptops you can buy right now

With so much choice out there, how do you know which are the best 13-inch laptops? They should have beautiful screens, long battery life, and remain light and portable. This is a list of our favorites.
Computing

These gaming monitors will transport you to another dimension

What are the best gaming monitors you can buy right now? We select five that are all priced under $900 packing premium technologies like G-SYNC and FreeSync, high resolutions, and fast refresh rates.
Photography

Luminar Accent A.I. can now recognize faces for more natural instant edits

Want to edit faster? Skylum Luminar's latest update enhances the Accent A.I. to use machine learning for instant enhancements. The tool now recognizes faces for more natural skin tones along with other enhancements.
Computing

Intel’s 10nm desktop dreams may be dead — new road map pushes them beyond 2022

Intel may never release a competitive 10nm CPU on desktop if a new roadmap is to be believed. It suggests that Intel will rely on its 14nm process to at least 2022 and perhaps even beyond.
Computing

Turn your desk into a command center with the best ultrawide monitors

Top of the line ultrawide monitors have the deepest curves, the sharpest colors, and the biggest screens on the market. You’re going to want one, sooner or later. So why not sooner? These are the best ultrawide monitors you can buy now.
Computing

Corsair’s Ironclaw, Glaive gaming mice are tuned for performance and comfort

Corsair is adding wireless capabilities to its Ironclaw gaming mouse this year, while the Glaive RGB Pro has been updated for maximum comfort with thoughtful ergonomics. Both mice feature accurate tracking and durable buttons.