The Surface Pro 3 can be a troublesome beast, but these tips can tame it

Microsoft SURFACE Pro 3 front angle
The Surface Pro 3 remains a popular choice for many professionals who need a basic laptop-tablet hybrid that can handle all the necessary Windows/Office software. It’s easy to tote around, less expensive than the Pro 4, and has specs powerful enough to handle most business tasks. However, the Pro 3 still has its issues, especially if it’s been a while since you downloaded all the latest firmware updates.

If your Pro 3 suddenly stopped working, developed battery issues, or had another problem, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve collected all the most common Surface Pro 3 issues here, and offered the solutions that get the best results. Take a look and troubleshoot your Pro 3 until it’s better again!

Note: Where applicable, we’re assuming you have upgraded to Windows 10 with these solutions. Updating your Surface Pro 3 is always a good idea, including the full upgrade to 10—updates often include fixes for previous bugs.

Common issues

Problem: My battery is dying and refusing to recharge properly

Is your battery life getting shorter and shorter all the time? Does it suddenly force your Pro 3 to shut down—or maybe it’s stopped charging at all? This has been a very common problem for the Surface Pro 3. It’s disruptive to your work, but there are some effective solutions out there.

Potential solutions:

  • Update your firmware. In 2015, Pro 3s began to develop a bug where the battery’s power level was no longer accurately measured and the laptop couldn’t tell when the battery reached full capacity. As a result, battery levels kept getting lower and lower and eventually useless – customers were understandably irate. In early 2016 Microsoft released a firmware update to take care of this problem. If it has been a while since you updated your computer, this firmware update should fix the problem. In fact, it’s a good idea to download any firmware updates you find available, since they usually contain important fixes.

Problem: I’m getting the blue screen of death!

No one wants the blue screen of death. This infamous name typically describes a total shutdown of the operating system, with the very real danger that some of your data has been lost. This is another problem that Surface Pro 3 laptops have had, especially in the past year. Fortunately, the situation may not be that dire.

Potential solutions:

  • Roll back updates. Sometimes a firmware update comes with problems. An infamous example of this was a firmware update that installed the wrong Surface Pen settings onto Pro 3s, which caused a system failure. Fortunately, such firmware bugs can usually be fixed. First restart your Pro 3 (you may have to go into Safe Mode if the problem is serious). Use the search box to search for and open Update & Security. When this window opens, go to the Recovery tab and choose Get Started under “Go back to an earlier build.” This allows you to pick a build before your damaging update. It’s a good idea to keep your automatic updates turned on, however. The next automatic update is likely to be a fix pushed forward by Microsoft to deal with the problem.

Problem: My update won’t install

This occurs when you try to download an update or when your computer automatically begins an update, but then something goes wrong. Your Pro 3 may shut down, give you an error message, or freeze up. Whatever the symptom, your update has messed up your laptop.

Potential solutions:

  • Run the Windows Update Troubleshooter. This is a tool that scans your Pro 3 for update problems and tries to fix them: It’s always a good first step. Simply go to this web page and click on “Download and run the Windows Update Troubleshooter.” The rest should be mostly automatic.
  • Check your date and time. If an update creates errors, a common source of the problem is the wrong date/time settings. Go to the Start menu and access your Settings. From here, go to Time & language. Make sure that the Set time automatically option is set to Off for the time being, then go to Change date and time. Select the right date and time for your time zone. Then reboot and see if the update works.
  • Make sure your Surface battery is fully charged. If your Pro 3 battery loses a charge quickly or is below 40 percent, it may shut off and disrupt your update. Plug your Surface in before updating, or at least make sure you have a full charge.

Problem: The Pro 3 feels like it’s overheating and sometimes shuts down

If your Surface Pro 3 seems to get increasingly hot before suddenly shutting down, you need to find a solution before it permanently damages your laptop! Surface Pro 3 laptops have been known to suffer from this problem, but there is something you can do.

Potential solutions:

  • Update your firmware. This overheating is a known issue with Surface Pro 3 models, but making sure all the firmware is updated can often help out. Firmware updates can change how software runs and make take some of the stress of your system, allowing it to cool down – literally.
  • Test your browsers. Some browsers may cause worse overheating than others. If switching from Edge to Chrome stops overheating, you may want to consider it.
  • Make sure the Windows Module Installer Worker is set to automatic. Basically, the Windows Module tools are there to help install updates, but they hog an incredible amount of processing power and can easily overheat your laptop—and they don’t always turn off when they should. Type in “Run” in the search box to open the Run command window. Type “msc” and press the Enter key. Right click on the Windows Modules Install service to view your options, and select Properties from the drop-down. Make sure that the startup type is set to Automatic in the next drop-down. Apply the changes, click Ok, and restart your Pro 3. Some people like turning off the Module Installer altogether, but this prevents you from installing future updates.

Problem: My Wi-Fi isn’t connecting or drops its connection all the time

This is annoying no matter what device it happens on. However, if you’re experiencing Wi-Fi problems much more often with your Pro 3, there may be something wrong with your laptop. It’s time to do some troubleshooting.

Potential solutions:

  • Use a wired connection for updates. The Pro 3 has been known to develop bugs that prevent a stable Wi-Fi connection—or any wireless connection, for that matter. An effective solution is to hook your computer up to the internet via Ethernet cable and download any available updates. Firmware updates can often fix Wi-Fi issues that may be present.
  • Check your date and time. We know it sounds odd, but the wrong date and time can also mess with your Pro 3 Wi-Fi. Go to the Start menu and access your Settings. From here, go to Time & language. Make sure that the Set time automatically option is set to Off for the time being, then go to Change date and time. Select the right date and time for your time zone. Then reboot and see if the update works.
  • Try a Command Prompt. This fix is a bit uncertain, but it’s worth a try if you currently have a version of Windows 10 with a Wi-Fi bug. Search for or open the Command Prompt. Then, type in (without quotes) “reg delete HKCRCLSID{988248f3-a1ad-49bf-9170-676cbbc36ba3} /va /f” and then hit the enter key. If an error pops up, this won’t work. If the command works, it removes a faulty registry key and should help you connect to Wi-Fi again.

Problem: My Pro 3 is having trouble waking up from sleep mode

Another problem that plagues Pro 3 laptops is weird sleep mode behavior. Is your Pro 3 taking an extra long time to wake up from sleep mode? Does it sometimes flip into sleep mode for no good reason? Did this happen soon after you downloaded an update? It’s time make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Potential solutions:

  • Do a full reboot. Unfortunately, this is another problem that occasionally plagues the Pro 3 in particular after poor updates or other problems. You can usually get your laptop to wake up by performing a full shutdown and reboot, manually. First, press and hold the power button for a full 30 seconds – yes, it has to be for the whole time. Then simultaneously press and hold the volume up key and the power button for a full 15 seconds. Wait at least 10 seconds. Then press and release the power button once. This should turn your Pro 3 back on normally. Make sure you have all updates installed to help prevent this problem.

Amazon strikes $100 off the price of Microsoft Surface Go tablets

If you've been eyeing Microsoft's Surface Go for its compact size and portability, now may be a great time to buy the tablet. Amazon has a $100 discount on the Surface Go, bringing the price of this slate down to just under $400.

Smash your carrier shackles with the best unlocked phones

If you want the freedom to switch carriers at will or you prefer to get your phone directly from the company that makes it, you'll want to buy an unlocked smartphone. These are the best unlocked phones you can buy in the U.S.

Carry your computer in your pocket with the best stick PCs

Stick PCs are a new trend in computing. They offer a full desktop experience within a small package, and can be plugged directly into your television's HDMI port. Here are some of the best options available on the market right now.
Emerging Tech

Drown out noisy neighbors and rest easy with these white noise machines

Some people are more sensitive to sound during sleep than others. Luckily, there are a number of white noise machines on the market to mask the noise. Here are our five of our current favorites.

Having PS4 problems? Check out our solutions to its most common issues

Just because the PlayStation 4 is a remarkable system doesn't mean that it's immune to the occasional hiccup. Lucky for you, we've vetted some of the bigger PS4 problems and found solutions for whatever might ail you.

Learn to uninstall a Steam game and clear some space on your PC

Looking to learn how to uninstall Steam games? You've come to the right place. In this guide, we walk you through the process step by step, whether you want Steam to do it for you or handle the process manually.
Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.

Sweet 16: Wacom’s Cintiq 16 pen display makes retouching photos a breeze

Wacom’s Cintiq pen displays are usually reserved for the pros (or wealthy enthusiasts), but the new Cintiq 16 brings screen and stylus editing to an approachable price. Does it cut too much to get there?

Mueller report releases on CD, forces Congress to find PCs with disc drives

The Mueller report was released this week to Congress via CDs and congressional members had to find PCs with working disc drives to access the 400-page document. The redacted report was also released to the public on a website.

Kick off your streaming career with our complete guide to Twitch broadcasting

Streaming games on Twitch for the first time can be daunting to say the least, but with a few simple steps, it's remarkably easy to do. Here's how to do so using a PC, Mac, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4 console.

Google Chrome will get a Reader Mode for distraction-free desktop browsing

If Google's testing of Reader Mode on the Chrome Canary desktop browser is successful, soon all Chrome users will gain access to this feature. Reader Mode strips away irrelevant content on a webpage for distraction-free browsing.

Former student uses USB Killer device to fry $58,000 worth of college’s PCs

A former student used a USB Killer device to short circuit more than $58,000 of computers at a private New York college earlier this year. The student pled guilty to the charges and sentencing is scheduled to begin in August.

AMD Ryzen CPU prices get slashed ahead of Ryzen 3000 release

AMD's Ryzen CPUs have had their prices slashed as we edge towards the release of their third generation. Whether you're a gamer or someone who needs multi-threaded performance, there's a deal for everyone with some heavy discounts to take…

The number pad on HP’s Chromebook 15 makes spreadsheet work a breeze

HP's Chromebook 15 comes with a 15.6-inch display, a metal keyboard deck with full-size keys, and a dedicated number pad, making it the second Chromebook model, following Acer's Chromebook 715, to be suited for spreadsheet work.
1 of 2