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What to Do If Your Surface Won't Start

What to Do If Your Surface Won’t Start

Here’s the scenario: We’ve had arctic temperatures here in the mid-west for the past couple of weeks. Yesterday, on the way home from work, we made a stop and had several bags of stuff to carry in with us. Consequently, we accidentally left one of our Surface tablets in the car overnight. And the temperatures dropped to -15 F!

Since we have two Surfaces, neither one of us noticed that one was missing.

So, guess what happened? Yep, the Surface froze.

We brought it inside in the morning and let it warm up for several hours but it wouldn’t start. So, we figured the battery must be drained and plugged it in for an hour. The Surface RT still would not start.

So, at this point we had two things to try, one of which is not recommended for Surface RT/2.

Your Surface Won’t Start, Method 1:

  1. Make sure that the Power Supply is attached to the device.
  2. Press and hold the Power button for 10 seconds.
  3. Repeatedly press and hold the Power button for 1/2 second before letting go (on/off on/off on/off).
  4. Wait a few seconds to see if the Surface boots up.
  5. If it does not, repeat the process.

This is the preferred method but it still did not start our Surface RT.

Your Surface Won’t Start, Method 2:

Important: Microsoft says to NOT use this process on a Surface RT or Surface 2. But obviously our Surface RT already seemed dead, so we were willing to give it a shot.

  1. Always make sure the Surface is turned off first –  not a problem in our case.
  2. Press and hold Volume Up (on the left side) and the Power button at the same time for at least 15 seconds. [You may see the screen flash the Surface logo but continue to hold for 15 seconds.]
  3. Release both buttons and wait 15 more seconds.
  4. Turn on the Surface as usual.

This method worked for us! But as we said, we didn’t have anything to lose. Microsoft says it’s a big NO-NO for the RTs. So, do Method 2 at your own risk.

And that is how you do a hard reset, if your Surface won’t turn on.

You may also like our video instructions on Delete Internet Cache on Surface RT upon Exit and Change Language on Your Surface.

Joanna-

Love My Surface Forum

106 comments

  1. Thank you. For some unknown reason I needed to use method 1 today. All good to go now.

  2. I read this post when it first came out and consequently knew where to look when my surface 2 wouldn’t start. Method one did the trick. Thanks. The battery wasn’t flat though. Any idea what causes this?

    Thank you for the site and helpful info. I still love my surface despite this.

    • Sean,

      Glad you were able to restart your Surface.

      I’m guessing the reason you ran into a problem is because an app crashed and hung the system in the process. Windows 8 seems better about handling it when that happens than previous versions but it still occasionally happens.

      Another possibility is that you have installed an app with a memory leak. This happens when an application requests memory from the system, doesnt give it back when it’s done but, keeps asking for more. Sooner or later, you run out of memory and the system crashes. This is easy to fix. All you have to do is find the app that’s leaking and uninstall it.

      The last possibility I can think of off the top of my head is that you’re almost out of storage space. All versions of Windows have been a bit flaky once there’s less than 10% free space on the system. Just check to see if you’ve run out of space and if so, clear up some.

      Hope this helps,
      Tim

      • Really helpful reply – thanks Tim

      • How can you clear up stuff if you cant turnnit on?

        • The steps outlined will perform a hard reset and, allow your machine to restart. Windows will often find the problem and correct it on it’;s own once it turns on.

          Of course, this assumes a software issue. If it’s hardware (blown power supply, battery, dropped down the stairs, etc.) it might not work.

          Hope this clears it up for you.

      • Tim and friends, after using process 2 on surface 1pro (the hold power and up vol.) the tablet started and I was able to work after that. My issue is it will now only seem to start with this method.

        Any suggestions????

        Thank you,
        D

  3. My Surface 1 screen went grey whilst using the rcord function. Turned it off an recharged. The screen will not turn back on although the start button vibrates when touched. Made a “recovery disc” on a pen drive using a different surface 1. Pen drive light flashes for approx 20 second then stops. Bottom of screen by start button gets extremely hot and still will not turn on. Tried various permutations of holding volume button down whilst pressin on/off button – nothing seems to help. Have you any suggestion

    • Peter,

      My first thought was that the drive got filled up since you were recording something. Windows machines (like the Surface) don’t usually do well when they run out of drive space. However, what you’re saying about the screen going grey and not turning on doesn’t quite mesh with the tablet just being out of space.

      That sounds like a hardware problem.

      Before I make any more guesses, when you say surface 1 do you mean a Surface RT or a Surface Pro?

      Tim

  4. Hi Tim
    Thank you for responding it is a suface RT. It was not on charge and I’m not sure how much battery power it had a available, but you usually get a warning message telling you to plug in when it is getting low. If it did run out of charge could this have caused a hardware problem?
    When I switch it on now there is just a dark blue screen and it gets hotter and hotter in an small area just to the right and above the start sign at the bottom of the screen. I can feel a response when I press the start sign.
    Peter

    • Peter,

      That’s sounding more and more like a hardware issue. If it’s only getting hot in one spot, you might have lost a power component or, maybe your battery is having a meltdown?

      I hate to say it but, it might be time to call Microsoft support or stop by your nearest Microsoft store.

      Tim

  5. Thanks Tim
    It’s under warranty so will return
    Peter

  6. Hi TIM,
    MY surface RT is hanging on in logo screen.its just showing surface screen .none of those above mention methods didnt work for me.i tried to make a recovery drive and boot with USB.but unfortunately nothing is working for me.could u please tell me what could be the possible problem.please help me to solve the problem.

    • Hey I’m having the same problem with my surface and did ever find out what was wrong with it and how to fix it. Please let me know thanks.

      • I have the same problem Surface is on the screen and no movement for hours this is surface 3 i7 526 gb
        ??

  7. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!! Option 2 worked for me!!! Just updated my Surface Pro 2 with a windows update, and then when it rebooted, it kept booting to the UEFI menu, would not let me do anything else. NOTHING. I was F**K’d off. Stupid windows updates. But you saved my surface, Microsoft website sucks, so thank you very much. I LOVE MY SURFACE TOO! Best piece of Microsoft tech I’ve ever bought.

  8. Hi Tim,
    Thanks for taking time to post your fixes. I tried both but sadly they did not work for me:(
    Scenario is: I reset my surface (while it was still working from settings charm) as I was about to sell it (I have 2). Now when I go to turn it on, the “Surface” logo page comes on and then all goes dark and windows will not start. Since I did not have a recovery usb, I made one using my other surface. This works to the extent that I am able to get to the “Troubleshoot” page. When I try to “Refresh”>error msg “The drive where windows is installed is locked. Unlock the drive and try again.” When I try to “Reset”>error msg “Unable to reset your PC. A required drive partition is missing.”
    Any ideas?

  9. Leslie,

    Sorry about the lateness on this. We’ve been working on another project and this slid through the cracks.

    If this is still a problem, try these steps: http://www.boyans.net/RepairWindows/The_drive_where_Windows_is_installed_is_locked.html

  10. Thanks….only option 2 worked for my new Surface Pro 3. The issue was the surface started to download a windows update…and it died in process of the update so it had locked up and crashed. I did have to disconnect the keyboard in order for this to work. Thanks so much.

  11. Hey, ive tried both methods and just cant get my surface to turn on.
    I had it on idle over the last 48 hours before shutting it down today.
    Ever since i turned it off i havent been able to turn it back on.
    My volume button is a bit faulty but have tried both methods numerous times and just dont know what to do now.,. :(
    Please Help.. I have absolutely everything on there and dont want to loose it all.

    • Goodsey,

      That could be something as simple as your charger died to something as bad as the Surface had a hardware failure. I’ll need a little more info.

      What kind of Surface is it (Pro, Pro 2, Pro 3 RT, 2)?
      When you attach it to the charger, does it (the Surface) get hot anywhere?

      Something else to try. Connect it to the charger in a darkened room and try to turn it on, does the screen light up a bit but stay black or doe it do nothing?

      Tim

      • Hey Tim
        It’s a RT, no it doesn’t heat up at all, the charger does but the surface remains cold.
        And no, the screen will not light up at all, I’ve tried removing everything from it and repeating but it doesn’t make a difference..

        • Goosey,

          I’m sorry. I didn’t see your reply earlier. I hate to say it but, you’ll have to call Microsoft. Unfortunately, I can’t come up with anything else to try without looking at the device.

          Good luck.
          Tim

  12. My Surface Pro 3 is not turning on. But, the keyboard’s backlight lights up everytime I try to turn it on. I really need your help. I’ve been trying every solution I could find.

  13. You are amazing!! Thank you so much! I was mega panicking!!!! I’m so happy it worked I could cry! Method 1 worked

  14. I have a surface 2 and neither of these work for me. I also used many other methods and none have worked. My surface was plugged in with the light on on the charger as well. I’m not sure what to try.

    • Katelynn,

      Take it into a dark room and try to turn it on. Does the Surface’s screen light up (but stay blank) and/or does the tablet heat up?

      If not, you might have to call Microsoft to arrange an exchange/fix as the device might have suffered a hardware failure.

      If it lights up or gets warm, try connecting a keyboard and hitting control-alt-delete (and hold it for 30 seconds) to see if the machine starts responding.

      Tim

  15. Hi there!

    I have tried both solutions and neither works for me. I have a surfec pro. Windows 8. (I don’t get on with the windows 8 very well) What ells can I do for it to work?

    Thank you for your time.
    If like can just e-mail me too.

    • Hi Jessie,
      If none of the suggestions in our post work, you may have a power problem. Is your Surface charging properly? Do you see the light on the charger? Did you try turning the Surface on while it’s plugged in?
      If nothing else works, you may have a dead Surface, in which case you will need to work with Microsoft to get it serviced.
      Good luck,
      Joanna

  16. Thank you SO much–Option 1 worked!

  17. Our brand new Surface Pro 3 also did not start. We were able to use method 2 and it started but is now hung up after we put in the password and will not boot up. I loved this device for the first two weeks but now I am not sure. I travel all the time and cannot have these kinds of issues. Have you heard of this?

    • Jana,

      I haven’t heard of this issue with the Surface but, I have heard of instances with some laptops (Lenovo’s mostly) that will get “stuck” in hibernation.

      Is it still doing it?

      Tim

  18. my system is showing surface logo but it is not moving forward. i have unboxed it and started but it is not moving beyond surface logo

  19. i m using surface pro 3

  20. Hey um I don’t get method # 1 and 2
    Can you please send me a video and teach me
    How to do it?¿?

  21. Hey I have a similar problem.
    My surface was at 7% when i went to plug it in, when i did the plug icon was there so i assumed it was charging – that is, until i got a popup saying that my battery had reached critical 5%. I switched outlets thinking that was the case but the surface still shut down. It has been charging (powered off) for about 2 hours now and when i press the power buton it simply shows the surface logo and a battery icon right after, then turns back off (all consistent with a low battery)

    Flash foward to half hour after and now the system said something about “preparing recovery options” before shutting off. THis went on twice before the surface ultimately decided to stop powering on.

    Now it’s been sitting on a plug for about 3 hours (and the white light is illuminated) so i know its getting power, but it STILL doesnt come on :(

    Can you please advise?

    PS> I live out of the US states so it’s difficult for me to ship my unit to MSFT repairs and its also not a common system where I am from so I will not be able to simply run to the store and pick up another cord to try it out.

    • EDIT : I unplugged it, left it off for about an hour and pressed power. I got the surface logo and the low battery Icon. Is it possible that it maybe be my charging cord is faulty?(although when its plugged in it simply refuses to respond to any power commands)

  22. You rock – thank you!!!

  23. Thanks so much! I hadn’t really used my surface for a really long time and when I tried to start t it up, it was just always restarting and finding some error. I panicked and used my normal laptop to find a solution. Thank goodness for this website. Considering it was about a few months since I last used it I went straight for the factory reset. It finally worked after about a full hour of trying, thanks so much for this!

  24. Thank you so much for your advise. Option one worked for me.

  25. Any idea why no matter what I do, my surface still stays on the “Please wait while we install a system update” It has like a grey screen then the thing that says Surface and the Please wait message has a black background but the rest of the screen is grey, never seen this before. I let the battery die, tried the volume up and power, no dice. If it’s off and i do the volume up and power for 10 seconds then release, about 10 seconds later it turns on by itself but still goes to the please wait screen.

  26. Option 1 worked thanks.

  27. I thought I had the same power on problem.
    Now I have got my SP1 on, the actual power button does not seem to function.
    I have tried resetting the device.
    Is there a function test I can perform to see if the power button is registering?

    • Hi Brendan,
      So, your Surface is on but when you press the power button it doesn’t shut off? Or is it the other way around? If you’re Surface is off and it will not turn on, then it could be lots of different things, like your battery for example. Your best bet would be to contact Microsoft support for suggestions. I don’t know of any hardware specific diagnostics that you can run if you’re device is not coming on.
      Joanna-

      • Thanks Joanna,
        So, your Surface is on but when you press the power button it doesn’t shut off?
        = yes and will not go into sleep when doing this either

        Or is it the other way around? = also yes

        If you’re Surface is off and it will not turn on, then it could be lots of different things, like your battery for example.
        = I have some how managed to get the sp1 to power on using a combination of 2 button start and pressing the windows logo key with the charger plugged in. Unplugged charger after start up battery is full.

        and Your best bet would be to contact Microsoft support for suggestions. I don’t know of any hardware specific diagnostics that you can run if you’re device is not coming on.
        = Microsoft support has requested I send the unit in (still under warranty) estimate turn around 2 weeks (I have to post the item in, a little inconvenient but that’s what you get when you want live outside the major cities)

        Great Blogg, keep up the good work and thank you.

        • Hi Brendan,
          Interesting problem. I assume you already tried holding the start button down for 15+ seconds to see if it will turn off?
          Also, Microsoft has an option to send you a new unit within a couple of days (i.e. before they receive your old one back) as long as you’re willing to put it on your credit card. If you’re interested in that you should ask them about it. We did it a couple of times for customers at my former job.
          Good luck!
          Joanna-

  28. Hello I am new and looking for a solution. When I turn on my surface, it starts to power up, it gets to the blue screen where it says Please Wait with the spinning dots. It never goes any further. I tried letting the battery drain totally, nothing changed. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

    Cyndy

  29. Thanks so much. I’ll report back!

  30. My warranty on my surface pro 2 just expired 2 weeks ago and now my power button is broke, the cost of this tablet was $1,500 a year ago and Microsoft can’t help me! Any ideas on how to or where to get this repaired? This will be my last surface paid a lot of money and I have been treated very poorly. There is a lot of other good competitors out there that is for sure!

    • Hi Pam,
      Sorry to hear about your troubles. The standard manufacturer warranty on just about any tablet is 1yr or less. For example iPads have a 1yr warranty too. To get an extended warranty is always a good idea but at this point that doesn’t help you. Have you asked Microsoft if they offer a repair service? They say this on their website: “If the problem with your Surface is not covered by the warranty or if your warranty has expired, your Surface may be eligible for out-of-warranty service for a fee. To learn more, contact us.” Also, you may still be able to extended warranty on your device. When I look up one of my Surfaces, here it what it says, even though the device is a year old: “Device and bundled accessory replacements are available at no charge through the standard warranty expiration date of Jun 17, 2015. This device is eligible for an Extended Service Plan.” You can look up your device by going to https://myservice.surface.com/en-US/Pages/Welcome.aspx

      If that doesn’t work, and if Microsoft can’t help you, then you really don’t have any other options because tablets are basically glued together and so service by outside companies would be very unlikely.
      Sorry, I wish we could be of more help.
      Joanna-

  31. Hi, my surface pro 3 (bought in December 2014) just completely died without any warning – just went off… I held the power button for 10sec and then clicked it and noticed the keyboard lights briefly flickered… but didn’t turn on. repeated it three times before it actually worked… Have you heard of just turning off before? What do you think I should do? I am in Viet Nam at the moment where there is no Surface Pro service (not sold here at all), but I am going back to Sydney Australia in a week – do you think I need to exchange for one without this scary issue – considering it is still under warranty? I doing a PhD and would not want to loose any writing etc!

    • I’ve seen similar behavior when an update failed to install properly. I resolved the problem by doing a SFC and chkdsk to make sure any corruption was fixed then I manually ensured all of the updates were installed.

      Oh, for good measure, run a full virus scan (not a quick one).

      You can find some guidance on doing the SFC and chkdsk at the link below:

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

      I would ensure all of your files are backed up first then try the SFC/Chkdsk/updates (just in case).

      If after doing that, the Surface remains stable until you get home, I would probably not worry about it too much (way too many things can happen with computers to worry about single-incident issues).

      However, if the problem persists then I would definitely consider exchanging it as it could have failing hardware of some type.

      Hope this helps,
      Tim

  32. wow!! I wasn’t expecting this to work, but it did! thank you so much, it means a lot.

  33. Forgot my surface in the car over 2 nights in the cold, method 1 worked! Thanks so much!

  34. Thanks a lot friend. The 1st method didn’t worked. But the 2nd one worked.I was using net and then transferred some of my files plugging in my pen drive after then which I could not safely remove the pendrive and also shut normally. So I had to forcibly shut the windows. Then I was unable to start as I switch the power botton it would automatically switch off showing low battery power icon. Can please tell why this problem occurred. Thanking you.

    • Sorry for the lateness of the reply real life getting in the way…

      It’s hard to say what caused it. It could have just been a glitch. Computers are doing a lot of things every second and (potentially) any single one of them failing could lock up your system.

      Usually, I don’t worry too much about a one-time event like this. Now, if it starts happening on a regular basis, I’d follow the steps in this post…

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

      By running SFC and chkdsk, you can fix a lot of weird issues.

      However, if you want to know what happened, you’ll have to comb through the Event Viewer (just search for it) it logs what your computer is doing. Be warned, though, there’s a lot of information you’ll have to sift through.

      Hope this helps,
      Tim

  35. My surface pro forced an Update on me, 1st time I’ve seen an OS do that, then when updating it never ended. I pressed the on/off button and it shut down. Here’s the problem, when I try to turn it on again it shows me the low battery screen and then just turn off. Tried the 1st method and nothing happened. Tried nr 2 and it worked perfectly. Mine is a surface pro, hope people find this as helpful as I did! Great tip!

  36. Thanks Dude, the first step worked for me….. Greetings From Tanzania…..
    Hakuna Matata

  37. #1 Worked great, thanks for the tip :)

  38. The power button and volume down worked for surface pro 1 . I was so stressed out about my surface not turning on

  39. I have an Microsoft RT. When it is plugged into the charger it works fine and says and shows the battery 100% full. But, when you unplug the charger it goes off and the screen is black. Push the on button and it doesn’t turn on, nothing happens until you plug the charger back in. I can’t seen to find the problem, any suggestions?
    Lynn

    • Sorry it’s a surface RT

    • I hate to say it but, it sounds like a hardware issue. The battery or the circuitry controlling the battery have probably died. Your only option is probably to call Microsoft and see about a repair/replacement.

      On the Plus side, the Surface 3 is out and you are probably due for an upgrade 😉

      Tim

  40. Thanks method 1 worked

  41. Thank you!!! Not sure why the surface was cranky but method #1 worked!!

  42. First method worked great…this was very helpful… Thanks!

  43. Method 1.3 worked for me. Thank you very much for providing the information.

  44. Thank you for saving my bacon with this advice. Used the volume button for the first time yesterday and I was locked out this morning with a frozen log in screen. The power of the internet! Thank you

  45. My surface 2 started not powering on so I tried all them methods that were suggested and the hard power way worked for awhile but not it will not power up at all. Anyone have a sollution?

  46. I accidentally bumped into your blog and was happy that you’re writing on ‘surface’ only. I had a sp3 since Dec. 2014, have been very happy except the added cost of accessories.
    Unfortunately this morning, out of the blue my sp3 couldn’t turn on. I brought it to MS store. They did your method yet the sp3 didn’t turn on. I was given a brand new replacement. The package was plain, not like the fancier box I purchased. The tech told me that it was Brand new. Honestly I wasn’t so sure, but I guess MS is a big company I should trust.

    The tech was not able to retrieve the data for me. I was devastated as I didn’t backup. He said sp3 weld everything together to keep the weight light there; no way that hard drive can be separated.
    1. Do you agree?
    2. Because of this incident I am a bit paranoid that something serious may happen again. At that time, I may run out of warrantee. But I can’t return and neither can I buy insurance at this time. What do you think? I read many posts here that other people had similar battery problem. Do I worry too much? Many thanks in advance for your comments. Fen

    • The SP3 can’t be disassembled without destroying the unit as seen in the link below…

      https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Microsoft+Surface+Pro+3+Teardown/26595

      If you do that to get the drive out (which would work), they are probably not allowed to accept it for exchange. So, what he said is true but for MS policy reasons and not technical ones.

      As far as having another problem in the future… It will happen, that’s why you should do backups. However, it will eventually happen with ANY computer you use so I think you’re worried too much because you had a bad experience. Just make sure you keep it backed up and it will be fine.

  47. I asked to hold on my old sp3 for a week, do not send back right away. So if you have magic to retrieve my data, I will very much appreciate. Fen

  48. Hi guys looking for some help, I was on the internet and my surface pro tried to restart it’s self and now the screen won’t turn on there is obviously power to it as the keyboard lights up when I attempt to turn it on. Loosing my mind, have only had it for 1 day so any help would be great!

  49. But what if it starts, gets a whole bunch of memory errors or whatever then nothing at all is on the screen? Mine is not having a power problem, it turns on but just has a black screen now. I’m pretty sure I have a virus but how can I get it off if I cannot do anything at all touch screen wise? Dx I just bought this thing bout a half a year ago, I don’t want my tablet gone! Its brand new Dx

    If it is any consolation, I downloaded one of my own trusted site’s “gimp application” it is an art studio where you can layer what you draw… Is that not good? This never happened to me on vista…and to be honest its crappier.

    • Oh great…I found out this has been happening a bit of time now to others and I didn’t see these comments…microsoft I’d like it if you would put a newest first on these because this makes me look like a total derp…

  50. Method 1 worked perfectly. Thankyou. :-)

  51. After running an upgrade to WIN 8 it wouldn’t restart. I tried Method 1 and … Voila! Worked like a charm. Your sharing is much appreciated!

  52. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
    It has started charging

  53. Oh my god, it worked. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Really, this is so awesome.

  54. I tried everything and nothing worked. I gave up, bit the bullet and purchased a new battery. My battery has not yet arrived, but I decided to take my surface RT apart (after making sure it wasn’t under any warranty) to prep it for the new battery. I finally got all the screws out (about 17) and got the surface open… unplugged the battery ribbon and I thought ‘what the heck’ … I plugged the battery ribbon back in and my surface restarted and booted right up. So for you brave at heart souls with no warranty…. you might try that. I left some tips on ifixit.com on step 5 for the camera cover. Good luck!

  55. Hi, Tnks for the information. I was using my surface pro 2 and it suddenly turned off last night. I tried everything to turn it back in but to no avail. I just read your post while on the process of contacting Microsoft and using method 2 as method 1 didn’t work, it responded. A big thank you from me.

  56. Hi, can you tell me how to fix the repairing issue because my tab cannot complete the automatic repairing and diagnostic ans restart again and again … please tell me how to fix it?

    • Try a 2-button shutdown:

      •Shutdown your Surface normally (from the icon)
      •After your Surface turns off, press and hold volume-up button and the power button at the same time for at least 15 seconds, and then release both simultaneously
      •The screen may flash the Surface logo then go out, continue holding the buttons
      •After you release the buttons, wait 10 seconds then turn your Surface back on normally

      if that doesn’t work, download a recovery disk from Microsoft: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/create-reset-refresh-media

      Boot to it and go under advanced tools. From the command prompt option, o a Chkdsk /r manually. After that, reboot and see if the problem returns.

  57. Yet again your advice has saved me a couple of hundred quid! Surface 2 wouldn’t switch on, 4 weeks after warranty expired, method 1 didn’t work but with nothing to lose I tried method 2. Bingo!! Thanks so much!

x

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