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

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 in 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 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 Windows, you may get a warning message that says something like Insert media: Files are missing. This message can happen because of 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 severe 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.

If that doesn’t work and you can’t access Windows on your Surface, you also can download and create the Surface recovery USB from another computer. Simply visit Microsoft’s website and sign in using your Microsoft Account to select the Surface device that needs to be reset. Otherwise, without a Microsoft Account, you can enter in your Surface’s serial number to confirm and download.

When you are ready, and the drive is 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, choose 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 process 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.

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