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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.



  1. 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!

    It has started charging

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

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!