How to Bring Your Data Back to a New or Factory-Reset Surface

By Andy Rathbone

Whether you’ve bought a replacement Surface or done a factory reset on your existing Surface, here’s how to bring all of your files, settings, and apps back to your Surface. Your Surface is designed to be used with a Microsoft account, so if you don’t have one, some of these steps won’t work.

  1. Turn on your Surface and sign in with your Microsoft account.

    Be sure to visit Windows Update and install all of the waiting updates.

  2. Tell your PC to sync your settings.

    Fetch the Charms bar, tap Settings, and tap OneDrive on the PC Settings screen. From the OneDrive pane, tap Sync Settings and then tap Sync Your Settings on This PC.

    When given a choice of which PC to grab the settings from, choose your old Surface from the list.

  3. Visit the Windows Store and reinstall your apps.

    From the Windows Store, slide your finger down slightly from the screen’s top and then tap the Your Apps button that appears along the screen’s top edge. From the first drop-down menu, choose your old Surface’s name. Then tap the Select All icon from the App bar and tap the adjacent Install icon.

    Or, if you spot icons for your uninstalled apps on the Start screen, tap their icons to begin downloading them anew. (On the Start screen, icons for uninstalled apps have a little downward-pointing arrow in their lower-right corner.)

  4. Restore your files from File History.

    If necessary, plug in the drive containing your File History backup or insert the memory card. Then fetch the Charms bar, tap Search, and in the Search box type Restore File. From the Search pane, tap the Restore Your Files With File History link to fetch the File History program. When the program window appears, tap the green button in the window’s bottom center to copy your files.