We’ve all been there, your Surface is getting a little sluggish after several months of use. You know you installed and uninstalled dozens of apps and programs and that there’s got to be a lot of “junk” left over, so you’re thinking about resetting it and starting over with a clean slate.
Alternatively, you might have just installed something only to find out it was a malware-ridden trojan horse and now you have to wipe your Surface because there’s no hope of cleaning it.
You know how to Surface. Trust me, these will save you A LOT of headaches later.
Before You Reset Your Surface Tablet: The Checklist
Here’s my recommended list of items you should check before doing the reset of your Surface tablet. It doesn’t matter if you have a Surface RT, a Surface 3 or a Surface Pro 3, the things you should look at are the same.
The same goes for Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. While the method you would use may vary slightly, you’ll have the same list of things to do before the reset.
1. Reset Your Surface Tablet – Get Your Power Adapter
You’re going to need it – I don’t care if you have a full battery, you’ll still need it. So you may as well find it now and save yourself the frustration of trying to find it after you start the reset.
Even if your Surface never tells you to, attach it to power during the system reset, just to be safe.
2. Reset Your Surface Tablet – Create a Recovery Drive
Before you do the reset, make sure you have a good recovery drive just in case something goes horribly wrong. You can find instructions for doing so on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 here: Create a USB Recovery Drive.
3. Reset Your Surface Tablet – Backup your Surface
If your Surface is still working, and you have a good sized external USB drive or network share, you should consider doing a System Image Backup. That way, if it turns out you forgot something really important, like all of your anniversary pictures and videos, you have a chance of getting it all back. You can find our article on working with system image backup here: System Image Backup In Windows 10.
4. Reset Your Surface Tablet – Make Sure You Know Your Passwords
I’ll bet you’re using a PIN or Picture Password to unlock your Surface, aren’t you? (So am I) If so, do you know your full Microsoft account password, off the top of your head? How about the passwords for your E-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.? Well, it’s a lot easier to make sure you have all of your passwords BEFORE you wipe your Surface than after, so make a list.
Just make sure you shred or burn the list after you’re done with it as you don’t want someone to find it and start posting random and embarrassing things on your Facebook timeline. Or, you can do like we suggest in our post on Passpack Password Manager, and store your passwords in a secure place and never worry about losing them.
5. Reset Your Surface Tablet – Save Your Bookmarks & Contacts
I don’t know how many times I’ve lost bookmarks over the years because I didn’t think about them until after I was halfway through a reset. So, make a backup of your bookmarks (from ALL of your browsers) before you do the reset. Many modern browsers will save your bookmarks in the cloud but it won’t hurt to make your own copy, just in case the cloud backup is old or isn’t working correctly.
Contacts, like bookmarks, may already be backed up by your email system but why risk it? I would actually argue that contacts are far more important than bookmarks.
Also, if multiple people use your Surface, make sure you backup all of the bookmarks and contact lists. Yes, I know you did a system image backup but do you really want to spend hours doing a restore and another reset, just because you lost the bookmark to a recipe you can’t find again or your aunt’s e-mail address?
6. Reset Your Surface Tablet – Find your Software Installation Media
If you have applications or programs installed on your Surface that you need but they aren’t available from the Windows Store, you should really figure out where the installation media or files are before doing the reset.
It’s a lot easier to locate the installation media you’ll need when you can look at your Surface to remind you what’s installed.
7. Reset Your Surface Tablet – Check Your “Dump” Folders
I’ll bet you have some folder(s) where you habitually dump things, like pictures you found on the internet, PDFs you will read “when you get the time”, and programs you found online that you want to try out. If you do, make sure you grab the stuff out of there so you don’t have to re-find it again. You may not want all of it but you probably want some of it.
I hope you find my list helpful, in the event that you need to reset your Surface. As you might suspect, some of those things I learned the hard way during my years working in IT but now you know what they are, too.
Did I miss something important? Do you usually do something before a reset that I didn’t cover? If so, leave a comment and help your fellow readers out.
Oh, and for the record, using a hammer to “reset” your Surface is NOT recommended 😉
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Joanna is a former IT Director for a major public university, who gave up a high paying career to blog full time. She is proud to be a professional geek. Joanna loves all things technology and Surface tablets are her passion. She and Tim created LoveMySurface.net to help others be more productive using these awesome tablets.