How to Refresh Your Surface - dummies

By Andy Rathbone

When your Surface isn’t working correctly, you can tell it to reinstall its operating system but leave your files on your tablet. Refreshing your Surface is a quick fix because you can easily reinstall your apps from the Windows Store. But it poses a problem for owners of the Surface Pro and Pro 2.

On the Surface Pro and Pro 2 models, the Refresh feature also removes all of the programs you’ve installed on your Desktop app. Before using the Refresh feature, make sure you have your program’s original installation files handy because you need to reinstall them all.

To refresh your Surface, follow these steps:

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.

  2. Tap the General section.

  3. In the Refresh Your PC Without Affecting Your Files section, tap the Get Started button.

    Your Surface will restart.

  4. When your Surface wakes up, you’re left with a few tasks:

    • Visit the PC Settings screen’s Windows Update section and download any waiting updates.

    • Open the Windows Store app and reinstall your apps.

    • On the Surface Pro or Pro 2, open the Windows desktop. There, you find a waiting list of your uninstalled desktop programs, along with links to where you can download and reinstall them. If you don’t find links to missing programs, you need to reinstall the programs from their original discs.

Refreshing your Surface RT or Surface 2 takes less time than refreshing a Surface Pro or Surface 2 Pro because you needn’t worry about reinstalling desktop programs. (The Office programs will still be there, although you need to update them again with Windows Update.)

On a well-used Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2, by contrast, tracking down and reinstalling all those desktop programs can be a nightmare.