Surface FAQ: Hardware-level operations for both a refresh and a factory reset

It happens.  Any piece of hardware made by man will fail.  Some will fail straight out of the box.  Some will wait until the exact wrong moment (i.e., when that Powerpoint deck is due).  But, as we’ve all experienced, most will wait until the day after warranty expires.

However, if you are experiencing issues with your Microsoft Surface (Pro or RT), where you cannot even get it to boot to run through the normal Windows 8 Refresh PC procedures in the UI, there is a way to still attempt a full refresh (or reset) using the following sequence to force the Surface into Recovery mode.

For a refresh, do this:

  1. With the Surface running on AC power, turn it off by holding the power button for 6-10 seconds.
  2. Once the Surface is completely off, tap the power button to turn it back on.
  3. When the Surface logo appears and the familiar circling dots show, hold the power button again for the 6-10 seconds to turn it back off.
  4. It may take a few attempts, but repeat steps 2 and 3 until the the words “Preparing Automatic Repair” appear underneath the Surface logo.  This is an indication that the Surface is successfully entering into Recover mode.
  5. At the Bitlocker screen, tap “Skip this Drive“, tap Advanced Options, move on to the Troubleshoot option, and then tap Refresh.

A full factory refresh will take place and could take as long as 20-30 minutes, so be patient.  Once the Refresh has been completed the Surface should restart to the normal Lock screen, so you can safely walk away and come back once the process is complete.

For a Factory Reset:

Instead of choosing the Refresh option in Recovery mode, choose Reset.

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