Getting A New Surface? – To Do Checklist

New Surface checlist

I recently had to replace my “tried but true” Surface Pro 3 with a replacement Surface Pro 3 (yellow-stripe issue) and realized that there are some things that are “must-dos” when switching over to a new device, no matter what the reason for the exchange. So, I complied the steps I took into a list to make it easier for you, if and when you are doing the same (so bookmark this somewhere).

Below is a checklist of things to do before and during the upgrade. These will help you if you are buying a new Surface tablet, exchanging an existing Surface, or just upgrading/rebuilding to Windows 10 on your device with a clean install.

Checklist to replace (new Surface) or rebuild your current Surface:

Step 1: Backup your stuff on the old device (or before you rebuild).

  • Check folders on local drive – for documents, pictures, videos, desktop files or anything else you may saved but don’t want to lose.
  • Bookmarks – check all of your web browsers if you use more than one and backup all of your bookmarks to a USB drive or OneDrive.
  • Applications – create a list of what you have installed on your current device to make sure you are able to reinstall it on your new one. Find all of your software installers  AND licenses before you give up your old device!
  • Passwords – make sure you know or have your passwords in a safe place. If you don’t, go in to the apps and change them to something you know and make a list, see our Passpack Password Manager post.
  • Email accounts – make sure you have all login information AND setup instructions before you rebuild or replace your Surface. Nothing worse than having those saved on your old device and then not knowing how to get it all working on your new one.

Step 2: Setup your new device.

If you can, have the devices side-by-side to help you mirror the setup on the new device.

  • Install ALL updates first (check twice).
  • Verify your identity on this PC – this is a relatively new thing with Microsoft but you will want to do this to verify your identity on the new device, it will help you with MS licenses later.
  • Review the new tips – wondering what Microsoft changed with the latest patches? Check out Microsoft’s tips for Windows 10 (you can access them by swiping from the right on a newly loaded device).
  • Secure your device – follow our instructions in the Surface Security Guide to make sure your device is secure BEFORE you put all of your data on it.
    1. Run Windows Defender Scan – yes, you should do this. In the past, I received other computers that came with viruses pre-installed, so I always do this now with all new devices.
    2. Protect Your New Device – by installing security apps, like VyprVPN, Malwarebytes, anti-virus, etc.
  • Setup email – configure your email accounts, see our Email Basics Guide.
    1. Set up each email account.
    2. Set up your signature for each account.

  • Configure your web browsers – set up Edge and/or install your favorite browser(s).
    1. Import the bookmarks– that you saved from your old machine.
    2. Configure Cortana – see Cortana On Surface Tablets.
    3. Set your Homepage on your favorite browser(s).
    4. Set up OneDrive – keep in mind that the sync may take a LONG time and eat up your WiFi; so, you may want to save this for a time that you do not need to use your network or device – like at night before bed.
      1. You can also map the OneDrive instead – this is much easier and is what I did.
  • Clean up your Start Menu – Windows 10 does a poor job of this for you.
    1. Pin and organize apps you use frequently.
    2. Re-size the tiles to your liking.
    3. Get rid of all the installed by default junk you don’t want.
  • Reinstall all remaining applications you need.
    1. Office – if you already have a subscription, be sure to enable it on your new Surface device.
    2. Games – if you downloaded them from the MS Apps store, the shortcuts will transfer but otherwise you have to reinstall.
    3. Apps – Work apps, play apps, and whatever else you need.
  • Move all your important files back to the new device and organize them the way you like.

Step 3: Wipe your old device.

Now that your new device is configured, it’s time to wipe your old device for exchange, sale, or disposal.

  • Double-Check you have everything off of your old device. Take your time, once it’s wiped, it’s too late.
  • Reset your old device and make sure you wipe all of your files before exchanging or selling it, see our post What Should I Do Before Selling A Surface.

At this point, assuming you followed along, you are pretty much done with the transition to a new Surface tablet.

Basically, you now just have to go to your favorite websites and rebuild the history and cookies, let the browser save the passwords (if you wish), and you are up and running. As I said in the beginning, it greatly helps if you have your old device side-by-side with the new one to duplicate the setup but this list should help either way.


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