Weird Issues with Surface? Try these fixes…

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Issues with Surface Tablet Try these fixes...

If you’re having weird issues with your Surface like missing features, weird crashes, or blue screens it might be due to some corruption or missing system files.

These types of issues can be particularly frustrating because your Surface might work fine 99% of the time and just have a weird quirk that’s only frustrating once in a while.

For example, not too long ago I had a problem on my Surface Book where I couldn’t open the All Settings screen from the Notification Center icon in the system tray. I could bring up the Notification Center easily enough but when I would click on the All Settings option, nothing would happen.

I figured there might be folks out there that have been experiencing similar weird stuff and I could help them out by writing up what I did to fix my machine.

The simple tools outlined below are surprisingly effective at solving such weird issues with Surface devices. Believe it or not, these two tools can solve 95% of weirdness, crashing or blue screen problems you may have on a Surface.

Even if you don’t need them at the moment, you might in the future, so it would be a good idea to bookmark this page.

Issues with Surface Tablet: System File Checker

Microsoft included a utility in Windows that will scan and verify the system files on your Surface. Better yet, if it finds something wrong, it will try to fix it for you.

It’s really easy to use but, you’ll need to start with an elevated command prompt. If you don’t know what that is, it’s essentially a command prompt that allows you to do things that require admin rights.

I know you may already be logged in with an account that is setup as an administrator but that’s not good enough. It can be confusing and outside of the scope of what we’re doing here; so, just go with it for now, OK?

  • Make sure your Surface is plugged into power (this can take a while)
  • Go to Desktop mode
  • Tap and hold the Start button to bring up the Power Users Menu
  • Select Command Prompt (Admin) from the list

Power User Menu

  • You’ll get a warning prompt, tap OK
  • Bring up the on screen keyboard
  • In the command line window, enter “SFC /scannow” and tap enter to run it

SFC Command

The system will automatically scan your system files and attempt to fix anything it finds amiss. It can take quite a while, so be patient. It will tell you how far along the process is – so just don’t mess with your Surface until it’s done.

SFC In Progress

If nothing was found to be wrong, you’ll get a message that looks like this:

SFC Didnt Find Corrupt Files

However, if System File Checker finds something wrong and can fix it, you’ll get something that will look more like this:

SFC Found Corrupt Files

Finally, if System File Checker finds something wrong but couldn’t fix it, you’ll see something like this:

SFC Found Corrupt Files - Couldnt Fix

If this is the case, you might need to try a Check Disk (next section) then retry the System File Checker.

If it fails the 2nd time, I’m afraid that you might need to consider doing a system Surface has some corrupt system files and, in my experience, the corruption tends to get worse over time.

Sooner or later, the corruption will get to the point that your Surface might not boot or you might lose data.

Issues with Surface Tablet: Check Disk (chkdsk)

Another thing that could be going wrong is some corruption or bad sectors on the hard drive. This can happen when a Windows computer (like your Surface) isn’t shut down gracefully but, can also happen for a number of other reasons like a failing hard drive or malware infection.

  • Make sure your Surface is connected to power
  • Go to Desktop Mode
  • Bring up an Elevated Command prompt

Power User Menu

  • You’ll get a warning prompt, tap OK
  • Bring up the On-Screen keyboard
  • Enter the command “chkdsk /R” and tap Enter

CHKDSK

  • A message will appear telling you that chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use and ask if you would like to schedule a chkdsk at the next restart. Type Y and tap Enter

CHKDSK Next Restart

  • Restart your machine gracefully. When it comes back up, you’ll get a boot screen something like the one below:

Surface Chkdsk Boot

Be patient, this will take quite a while. That’s why I had you connect your Surface to power, as you do not want your Surface to run out of juice halfway through a chkdsk.

It might also seem to get stuck at several points along the way. This is normal so don’t worry about it. If it finds something wrong, it will automatically try to fix it and recover any corrupt files. When it’s done, it will boot normally and you can log in at that point.

Hopefully, any weirdness issues with Surface devices you may be experiencing can be fixed with one or both of the tools above.

Tim

(Last Update: 1/6/16)


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is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director). He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.

54 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the info. To be honest I knew the commands, but wen problems arise I seldom look inside my brain rather look to gogole and ended up here where I got the soln.
    BTW – I love your site, thks for all the tips, tricks and soultions as well. Keep it up guys!!

  2. Guys, I love your blog and follow it keenly. I have the original surface RT as well as the surface 2. Of late, I have had huge issues with my surface 2. The screen keep freezing randomly. While it is a problem, it is also an embarrassment as I proudly flaunt my Surface to my friends and when this happens they all snigger and say I should have bought the iPad. I love my surface 2 for the balance it gives me between work and fun. I have tried every possible trick under the sun to get these issues sorted but in vain. I spent more than an hour with a Microsoft Surface tech support person yesterday and we did a full reset and all but the problem has come up again today. Microsoft has said they will replace my machine. Once I get the new one, I will update you on how it works. Till then I will continue to follow your blog and all your helpful tips. Cheers.

    • Hi Uday,
      Thanks for the kind words. Glad you like the blog and sorry to hear about your problems. We have a Surface RT, Surface 2, and Surface Pro and don’t have any issues. Although the last Windows update did cause Tim some problems with his Surface Pro. He reset it back to factory defaults and rebuilt from scratch and now it works great again.
      Let us know how the new Surface 2 does and thanks for reading.
      Joanna

  3. Hello, my surface touch screen is not responding at all. I tried what you listed above and I still have an unresponsive tablet. Help..

  4. Hi hoping you can help or offer advice. Ive been having issues with my sfcpro2 keyboard/cover/touchpad not connecting or being detected ive tried every solution i can find on the web. As i purchased my sfcpro 2 2nd hand ive always been curious to what it actually was ie a surface or a surface pro was it a 1 or a 2 as its case said ‘win 8’ and ‘surface’ on the back and that was all and boot screen just says ‘surface’ . A microsoft site detection thingy confirmed it was a sfcpro2 256gb model by entering its serial number. Unfortunately i discovered its actual model after i did that 2 finger reset which alot of sites warn you against doing on a surface pro 2 (hold volume up and power for 15 secs). I also think i may have done the 2 finger salute sorry reset prior to the cover stuffing up while attempting a similar operatron to enter the bios (same key presses but volume up held and tap power then release volume up 10 secs later) even tho i am confusing many here im sure you experts follow me perfectly. End result = alot of hassle and worry for very little results as not even the big bad factory reset seems to fix it so next stop is either the scrub HDD recycle reset or perhaps installing 8.1 via usb. Please can you steer me in the right direction. Id rather destroy it via over use not abuse!!

  5. Hi Rob,
    Did you purchase the SP2 and the cover together? It is possible that you have a bad cover. I’d recommend stopping at Best Buy and seeing if you can your Surface to work with one of their covers. This way you’ll know for sure. Also, I’m assuming you’ve already found our suggestions on cover problems and tried them: http://www.lovemysurface.net/keyboard-problems-with-surface/

    On the topic of Windows 8.1, your SP2, was originally sold with Win 8, and in order to update all you have to do is run all of the Microsoft updates, the Win 8.1 update is free.

    Good luck!

    Joann-

  6. Hi guys hoping someone can help me I have an original surface Dr and have only just started using it. However I cannot get it to turn on at all. I have tried Microsoft’s suggestions but still nothin, I am trying to charge it but it will not turn on even when the charger is plugged in. Help please. Thanks

    • Ceri,

      Try to turn it on in a quiet darkened room. Remember to hold down the power button for at least 20 seconds before releasing it.

      Does the screen light up at all? If you leave it on for a few minutes, does it make any noise? (fans, for example)

      Also, try plugging in a USB device that has a power light (like a USB key or mouse) to see if it’s supplying power.

      If it’s not lighting up or making noise at all, try these tips for fixing battery charging issues just in case the root cause is a dead battery that’s having difficulty charging.

      http://www.lovemysurface.net/surface-pro-3-not-charging/

      If that’s not it, it might just be a dead unit and you might have have to see if MS can do an exchange/repair.

      Tim

  7. Well, I think I have tried everything you suggested. I have a refurbished RT that I bought on Amazon about 45 days ago. A week or so ago I bought a new Surface Type Cover 2 at a local office supply house. The RT recognizes the keyboard (keyboard has power, the track pad works and the backlight and volume keys work plus the on-screen keyboard that is particular to having a keyboard attached is accessible and functions), but none of the typing keys work.

    I have checked repeatedly for updates (with the keyboard connected), and cleaned the contacts on both the keyboard and RT. Today I took the keyboard back to the office supply store and tested in on a Surface 2 display unit and it worked fine. Since they did not have an open box keyboard to test with my RT, I went to Best Buy and used one of their open box Type Cover 2 units on my RT. It displayed the same characteristics as my keyboard.

    I came home tonight and went step by step through all of your suggestions again, this time including the scannow and chkdsk processes. After reboot, same thing – the RT recognizes the keyboard and the touchpad works, but that’s it.

    Is there anything I have missed? I really hate to have try going back to Amazon for a replacement even though I believe this unit came with a 1-year warranty.

    • Sorry Bruce, we missed it…..

      Sounds like you were pretty thorough. I don’t know if we can help but, let’s give it a go.

      Let’s start simple. What happens if you plug in a USB keyboard or connect a Bluetooth one?

      Assuming that works and acts normally, disconnect the external keyboard and attach the keyboard cover.

      Next, try going into device manager and uninstalling the Surface Type Cover Filter Device item under Keyboards. Then power off the Surface, start it and turn up your sound volume.

      Next, connect the type cover and see if it works. If it doesn’t does it make the “USB device detected” sound that you normally get when you plug in a USB thumbdrive?

      Also, you could try step six from the Keyboard Issues post again after uninstalling the keyboard from device manager to see if that helps. In case you don’t remember…

      – Go to your Desktop
      – Open Device Manager (in Control Panel)
      – Click Keyboards
      – Press and hold on your keyboard item
      – Select Update Driver Software (Surface Touch Cover Filter Device) from the menu
      – Select Browse my computer for driver software
      – Select Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer
      – If there are two versions presented, pick version 141 for Pro or 101 for RT to install. If there is only one version shown, pick and install it

      If it’s a driver issue, hopefully, that will solve it. If it doesn’t, there’s the possibility that your refurbished RT has a problem. Where did you get it?

      Tim

      • Tim,

        I attached a USB keyboard and that worked (including the USB sound). I then disconnected the USB keyboard and attached the Type cover but did not get the USB sound. Then I tried to go thru the additional steps you outlined but got stymied when I touched the keyboard line under device manager. It showed an HID entry only but I may have inadvertently uninstalled that driver because there does not seem to be any kind of driver for the keyboard at all any more. In fact there is not even a keyboard entry on the list under device manager, only Human Interface Devices.

        So I went to Microsoft.com/surface to check for updates and downloaded several updates and restarted per the instructions. Same situation. Surface sees the keyboard but the typing keys don’t work, just the mouse, volume, backlighting, etc. The on-screen keyboard that is associated with the cover keyboard is displayed when requested. Going to the device manager – no keyboard, just Human Interface Devices.

        Somewhere along the line I lost the capability to touch the Window logo on the bottom of the tablet and can only access the main screen by swiping in from the right and touching the Windows logo there.

        I bought the refurbished Surface through Amazon through Dealfisher and it was supposed to have a 1-year warranty. It was delivered in early October but I was out of the country at the time. I bought the Type cover about 2 weeks ago at Staples.

        It really seems like I am missing a driver but I just can’t find the driver to install or reinstall.

        Any other thoughts?

        Bruce.

        • Hi Bruce,
          Sorry to hear you’re having all this trouble. It’s hard to say what you are missing at this point. I think I would do a refresh at this point. It usually works without wiping the device.
          Good luck.
          Joanna

          • Hi Joanna. Our messages must have crossed in cyberspace. I posted on Saturday evening that I was able to get the keyboard working by refreshing from Windows. It has been working like a champ ever since. My thanks to you and Tim for providing a great resource.

  8. First I’d like to thank you. You’ve provide much insight. My Surface RT touch screen gets these circles which look like pressure is being applied to the screen. Then it gets very glitchy. The screen will flutter, zoom in and out, not respond to anything. I have to turn it off and on, after which it may calm down or get worse. Also either during these episodes my on screen keyboard type addition letter when the space bar is pressed or any letter in that vicinity.

    Would love to hear if other are experiencing the same and what is suggested to rectify this prob.

    • MJones,

      I actually had to replace a Surface with similar issues (turns out it was defective hardware) but, before you visit the Microsoft Store or contact support here are a few things to try:

      – Make sure all of the patches have been applied first.

      – If you have a good idea when it started, you might want to look at uninstalling any software that was installed around that date. It could be that some piece of software is buggy.

      – You could try a reset of your Surface (under update and recovery) it is a pain but, it will set it back to factory defaults.

      Hope these help,
      Tim

      • My surface just freezes when I am doing something so I have to reboot it, It’s a pain in the ass. I used the Command Prompt and did sfc /scan now it Sayed Windows Resource Protection did not find any intergrity violations.

    • What do you mean it freezes up? Does it stop responding, throw a BSOD, or something else?

      Also, does it happen with every internet connection or does it only happen with a particular one?

      Tim

  9. My wife just purchased a refurbished Surface 2. She charged it overnight as directed and then I began the start up procedures in the beginning. I got through most of it until after choosing the customized settings and then the screen had problems.

    The screen has horizontal lines that flicker in different off colors like RGB problems. I tried the SFC/scannow listed above but no errors were detected.

    What is really bizarre is that the lines do not show up if I am in the update/recovery screen. In this mode the screen is perfect, but as soon as I back out to the PC settings screen the lines and flicker starts up again. If I go to the start menu the lines are all across the screen as well Same in the desktop mode.

    I have tried to update the nVidia driver but it says that it’s fully upgraded.

    Right now I am downloading upgrades hoping that it will solve the issue this way. Any advice would be welcome.

    Thanks

    • Hmmm….

      Fixing Windows RT devices is tricky since you can’t do a lot of things. Did the updates do the trick?

      If not, do you happen to have an external monitor you can connect to see if the problem is the video controller or screen hardware?

      Obviously you’ve already surmised that it’s probably a controller/driver issue since it’s working in recovery mode but, I’d double-check if you can. I’ve seen video issues be weird like that.

      Something you might want to try is logging in with a different account. Windows RT compartmentalizes a lot of things and it’s possible it’s a user profile issue…

      If you log into a different account and everything is fine, you can probably fix the profile by using these steps…

      http://www.lovemysurface.net/switch-to-a-local-account-and-vice-versa/

      Hope this helps,
      Tim

  10. Hi Guys, my name is Roger and I am currently in HKG, I bought a Surface Pro 3 i7 256Gb about ten days ago, This week I installed and signed up for Office 365, however when ever I save any file in office and turn off the Surface the files are corrupt when trying to open again, this applies to all files that I have worked on or saved. Now it is applying to all software files. I have done numerous deep scan virus checks, Run the System File Checker, Used Win 8.1 re install, reloaded everything and I still get the same result. Another thing that happens is that when trying the use Save-AS function on all software the software hangs and does not respond for up to 2 mins before continuing.

    If I save to an external source and unplug it before turning off all is well I can open the files again, I have also had a few Blue Screens of Death as well in the past few days.

    Does anyone have any idea if this could be a Surface issue as it seem,s software related to me

    Would really appreciate some feed back on this.

    • It is definitely software related. The fact that you’re using a Surface is (very likely) irrelevant to the problem.

      What Anti-virus are you using? Also, are you saving them locally or to OneDrive?

      Tim

      • Hi Tim, Many thanks for getting back to me, I use high end AGV Anti Virus, I am saving to a thumb drive that was checked and fully formatted before use. As long as I remove the stick before shut down all is OK, or else those files on there also go corrupt.

        • Sorry for the delay (busy here) anyway, glad you have a grasp on it.

          I’m thinking the anti-virus is causing a problem by doing a scan on the USB key files as it exits. They only way I know to fix it is to turn off automatic scanning of external drives but, that can cause other problems.

          You’re probably better off gracefully removing the drive prior to shutdown as you’ve discovered.

  11. I’ve been having this weird problem where my pen (ONLY the pen, not the general touchscreen) isn’t recognized in circles on certain parts of the screen. However, these deadspots constantly vary, and only sometimes appear. I’ve tried calibrating, simply restarting, updating, using another pen, cleaning the screen, all the obvious solutions….of no use. Do you have any idea what the cause of this problem is, and how I might find a solution to it?

    • Sorry. That’s weird and I don’t have any experience to draw on for you. You might want to try taking it to a Microsoft Store (if you have one near you) and see what they think.

  12. Hello, I have a surface 2 rt. I got it DEC Christmas before last. My warranty was up 3 weeks ago and about a week ago I woke up to it not working at all. It tries to recover and freezes! Please help

    • Cori,

      First try holding the power button down for 10-20 seconds then restarting the Surface to see if it can recover. If that doesn’t work, you might want to consider a 2-button shutdown by holding the volume-up and power button at the same time for 20 seconds then waiting 15 seconds and finally turning it back on normally.

      Be aware, though, Microsoft doesn’t recommend doing this (though no one seems to know why) but, if it’s not working anyway, it might help.

      You could also try a checkdisk or SFC from the advanced recovery tools since it might be some disk corruption at the heart of you issue. You’ll just need to get into the command prompt from the advanced recovery tools to do either.

      http://www.lovemysurface.net/issues-with-surface-tablet-try-fixes/

  13. Hi. I purchase a pro3 a few mnths back. It was working fine until a few days ago. I was oustation so I didnt use it like for a week. Now when I open it It would not react to my finger touch commands. But It stil react with my stylus pen. I’ve tried calibrating with finger touch but it just wouldn’t react no matter how hard I press the screen. Please help.

  14. Hi ~ I have a Surface RT (1 yr & 1/2 old) and it suddenly crashed as I was saving a photo I forwarded of my unexpectedly recently deceased dog …. I downloaded the recovery on USB but didn’t work. Entered bitlocker recovery key but didn’t work. I live an Canada, contacted a local shop to query if they repair Microsoft tablets but no response. I’m going to try the information you provided above…. I receive a blue screen with some prompts …but again, no self-repair attempt has restored windows. Any further suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  15. AHH. I am so glad I found this! Chkdsk totally did the trick and my ie app is finally working and all. Saweet thank you 🙂

  16. I followed the advice from, “Try these… Issues with Surface Tablet?” Love My Surface, Tim Rolston, 21 April 2015. It resulted in the discovery of corrupt files which Windows was unable to repair. It created 3 log files, of which I pasted the 1st one below and embedded the two others.

    I additionally noticed an issue in Device Manager. That being an unknown device with no device type, manufacturer, or location. Whether this is related to the SFC problem previously discussed.

    I am not sure of my next action, as I do not want to foul the system, which I often do. If anyone is of advice and wants to share, please do so. I forwent including the log file content because it is 293 pages in length.

    “Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some
    of them. Details are included in the CBS.Log windir\Logs\CBS\CBS.log. For
    example C:\Windows\Logs\CBS\CBS.log. Note that logging is currently not
    supported in offline servicing scenarios.”

  17. I did the restarting thing my surface 2, and it got a few apps to actually open and work, but not all of them, because half the original apps deleted by itself and I can’t reinstall them again. Before that, none of my apps would work apart from internet and the desktop things.
    I still can’t get settings to open, which is the main app I need to open right now, so I can restart my whole surface to factory settings so its not all messed up.
    Thanks

  18. I got a 38 and 31 Code. I cannot connect to Internet to update drivers and I cannot use my keyboard. What do you recommend? I am currently 59% from a Systems Scan. I was then going to try a Check Disk…? Thanks!

  19. Greetings from Mexico… I bought a fantastic Surface pro 2 and its type cover in the USA .. I have been very happy for almost 2 years, now my son wanted to use it and decided to but a typer cover with spanish keyboard .. I already made all technical advise (hard and soft reset, etc) but I can not use the spanish type cover… My question: Do you know if this change is possible or I am trying something impossible to do ? a USA Surface with a Spanish Type Cover) Yor help is most welcomed, thank you.

    • I don’t have a definitive answer but, I would think it should work if the language settings are correct. Does it not work at all or does it seem to be mapped wrong?

      • Hi Tim,

        I have a surface pro and i bought it in 2013. I dropped my tablet and the screen totally cracked. Do you think if i take it to best buy they can change it? or its one of those tablets that you just have to forget and buy a new one?

        Thanks

        • Nini,

          I hate to tell you this but, the Surface Pro isn’t really fixable once something like that happens. You can try to get it replaced but, it will likely cost hundreds of dollars (if they even offer the service). You might be better off getting a new Surface.

          If you happen to have a MS Store nearby,i’d talk to them before the guys at Best Buy. Give them a good sob story and they *might* swap it out for a new unit as most of them are really trying to establish good customer service. I know I’ve been able to talk them into fixing stuff they shouldn’t have fixed under the rules of the warranty.

  20. Hi. My Surface Rt is flickering very subtly while its plugged in and I’m on it. The screen gets bright, then dim, then bright, dim, over and over. Also, twice now I’ve gotten the loud, blue, reset page. Lastly, my screen keyboard only works if i press slowly. Ive done both of your suggestions, scannow. and chkdsk. Any other suggestions??

  21. Dear Tim, thank you very much for the useful information on your blog! My surface pro 3 is experiencing problems to perform a programme that runs in matlab – it unexpectedly quits the software and moves to the start screen. Sometimes you’re able to return to the software; sometimes the screen freezes. I thought that was a problem with matlab installation at the beginning, but this is happening even when the software is not running. And when it happens the start button does not work or delays a lot. I checked for system files and it did show the error message you mentioned above – corrupted files, not able to fix. Then I checked disk and it was also not able to fix the problems. I am not able to reset the computer now because I don’t have everything that needs to be installed in order to the programme to run. Is there another way around?
    Best regards
    Marina

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