Before You Upgrade Surface to Windows 10 – Do These Things!


Windows 10 is due out July 29th. This means many of us (including me) will be upgrading your Surface very soon.

However, if you haven’t tried the Tech Preview Version and/or you’re a bit paranoid (I can’t blame you there) about upgrading your Surface to Windows 10, then you should take these few extra steps before the upgrade.

They will ensure that you are prepared in the event something goes wrong during the upgrade or you decide that you want to revert back because you liked Windows 8.1 on your Surface better.
Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then.” – Philip K Dick

Don’t get me wrong, the experience with upgrading to the Tech Preview versions of Windows 10 have been overwhelmingly positive and there’s no reason to believe the “real” upgrade process will cause problems. But, from personal experience, it is better to be safe than sorry… right?

To that end, below are 5 things you should do BEFORE you try to upgrade your Surface to Windows 10.

Upgrade Surface to Windows 10: Wait 2 Days

Microsoft has already said that they will be rolling the release out in stages and that they are doing this, in part, so that they can make fixes along the way.

So, why not let someone else find any big problems before they impact you?

All you have to do is be patient and wait a couple of days before allowing your Surface to upgrade and come back here, to Love My Surface, to check for update progress. We’ll be keeping a close eye out for widespread Windows 10 installation issues and will update folks as the Windows 10 roll-out progresses.

Upgrade Surface to Windows 10: Create Windows 8.1 Recovery Drive

Get yourself a spare USB drive that has – at least – 8GB of capacity. It needs to be one you won’t need for a while.

Use it to create a Windows 8.1 USB recovery drive for your Surface. You can use these instructions for making it from Microsoft: Create a USB Recovery Drive

After you create it, boot from it just to make sure it works then put it somewhere safe and don’t use it for anything else until you’re sure the upgrade to Windows 10 went well AND you’re happy with it. This is your insurance policy. Treat it as such.

Upgrade Surface to Windows 10: Backup Your Data And Sync Your OneDrive

Make sure you have good backups of your data and that your OneDrive files are synced up. In fact, I would just plan on moving any pictures, documents, videos, etc… to your OneDrive – just in case.

That way, it’s not only backed up but if something goes wrong and you need to wipe your Surface, all of your data will automatically sync back down to your Surface from the cloud.

Upgrade Surface to Windows 10 - OnedriveIf you’re not sure if you’re OneDrive is synced, just go to your desktop and look at the OneDrive Icon in the system tray. If it looks like the example to the right, if it’s all synced up.

If it doesn’t, mouse over it and it will give you a popup message telling you what’s wrong and then you can take the appropriate action to correct the issue.

Upgrade Surface to Windows 10: Manage Your Applications

Upgrading your Surface to Windows 10 is an excellent opportunity to do some cleanup of old apps you don’t use anymore – uninstall anything you don’t use.

It is always a good thing to do this before a major upgrade because it’s possible that an installed app could cause an update failure (because of a weird incompatibility problems). Getting rid of apps you don’t care about minimizes your risk and, as a side benefit, frees up space on your Surface.

In addition, you should Install and Use Crap Cleaner (ccleaner)If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a great little tool that “cleans up” old files, temporary files, and the Windows registry.

Use it after you uninstall any applications. If possible, you will want to do this before the Windows 10 files are downloaded to your Surface just to make sure it doesn’t accidentally “clean up” the Windows 10 upgrade files. However, if the files are already downloaded, just make sure NONE of the Advanced cleaning options are checked when you do the cleaning operation.

Upgrade Surface to Windows 10: Chkdsk and SFC your Surface

Believe it or not, it is common for your Surface to have some corrupt files on it but still be running fine. This is because modern computers are pretty fault tolerant. If they weren’t, as complex as they are, they would only run for about 3 seconds before crashing due to a minor error.

That said, you don’t want to tempt fate by having these errors on your Surface during the upgrade process. So, make sure you run a Check Disk (chkdsk) and System File Checker (SFC) against your Surface before you do the upgrade.

You can find guidance for doing both in this article: Issues with Surface Tablet? Try These Fixes.

Upgrade Surface to Windows 10: Conclusion

For the most part, the suggestions above can be done in any order but I would suggest performing the Chkdsk and SFC last.

These steps will help ensure your Surface upgrade to Windows 10 goes smoothly and, if something does go wrong, you’re in a position to do something about it.



    • Yep but, it’s still good to have the recovery media just in case as the rollback procedure on the Tech preview hasn’t always been completely clean.

      Besides, like I said, it’s an insurance policy more than anything.

  1. Hi TIm. I did SFC on my surface pro 2 and found some corrupt files and wasn’t able to fix it, so I did the Chkdsk. How will i know that it fixed the problem? Thank you

  2. I’ve wanted to, but haven’t decided to upgrade my Surface 3, (64G/2RAM) yet …

    I really like it, and in the six weeks I’ve had it, it has performed really well. (Although RAM usage is regularly at 40-60%)
    I have had no regrets with 8.1. I have tiles for what I need nicely pinned to the Start Screen, and on the desktop I have, besides the Taskbar on the bottom, Rocket Dock shortcuts on the left, and I use AltDesk for virtual desktops.
    I’ve heard many negative comments about OneDrive – which I use a lot – on Windows 10.
    Both my laptop and my S3 boot from power to desktop in 20-30 seconds. Since upgrading my laptop to W10, it takes 3-4 minutes to boot!

    So, any comments or advice???

    • Hmmm…. let me see if I can give you advice on the Surface 3 AND help you with your laptop at the same time.


      How old is the laptop? Maybe it has a device that they didn’t include drivers for in Windows 10 that’s hanging the boot? You can look in device manger and see if there’s any unrecognized devices then see if you can ID temp and find drivers.

      Also, check your disk space, if you’ve very low, it can cause issues like you’re describing.

      Also, I’d run SFC and chkdsk ( before doing the upgrade, just to make sure there’s no minor corruption hiding on the drive on the laptop (to maybe fix your problem) and on the Surface 3 as a preventative measure before the upgrade when you decide to go through with it).

      Surface 3:
      If you’re happy with Windows 8.1 stick with it. There’s no big push to upgrade to Windows 10 (at least not yet) and it gives Microsoft time to refine things.

      Keep in mind, however, that if you jump back and forth between your laptop and Surface, you might see a bit of weirdness because your user profile is used in both places. Joanna is playing with Windows 10 on one of our Surfaces but, so far, has left her SP3 on Win8.1 so she’s seeing (very minor) things like weird views in windows explorer (i.e. windows 10 style on windows 8.1)

      Just remember to do the SFC and chkdsk before you do the upgrade on your Surface 3.

      • Thank you for taking your time, Tim. My laptop is an Acer V15 Touch (V3-572P-51BA). I purchased it about a year ago. It has Intel Core i5 and a 1TB HDD and has 70% free. I’ll check Device Manager. Can I do SFC and chkdsk even if I already upgraded to Windows 10?

        I’ll take your advice and take my time with the Surface 3 upgrade. I’ll definitely wait to see if I can first correct the boot issue on my laptop so that I can enjoy the experience. And if I do decide to upgrade, I’ll do SFC and chkdsk and refer to your articles about what to do before upgrade.

        Thanks and blessings for you.

      • Hi, Tim. Did the SFC and chkdsk on my laptop. No errors found/repaired. Also checked Device Manager. Nothing out of the ordinary.

        Will continue to monitor and evaluate. I have 30 days to downgrade to 8.1.


  3. Made recovery on USB. Won’t boot to Windows from it. Once I select USB it just cycles back to the screen asking me which language. Any help?

    • Hmmm….. What are you trying to do? Go back to Windows 8.1 or are you trying to recover a bad install?

      Also, you said the language selection keeps coming up, did you finish the Windows 10 install?

  4. I’m at my wits end trying to upgrade my 1st gen Surface Pro to Windows 10. I have received the notification informing me my system is eligible for an upgrade but no matter what I try the update process always fails when downloading Windows at 18%

    – I have successfully installed every single important and optional update

    – I have run sfc /scannow and chkdsk /f which both report no errors

    – I have even gone as far as doing a reset to factory default (Windows 8), immediately upgraded to Windows 8.1 (without installing any applications) and then attempted an upgrade to Windows 10

    – I have tried running the rundll32 command in an elevated command prompt window as suggested by sites without success:
    rundll32.exe pnpclean.dll,RunDLL_PnpClean /DRIVERS /MAXCLEAN

    – I have tried doing a disk cleanup ensuring that I also clean redundant system files

    Can you think of anything else I might have missed

    • It sounds like you were fairly through. Try kicking off the upgrade with a freshly created admin account. It *might* be something in your profile (which could have survived the reset) causing the issue.

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