Don’t you just love it when things fall into place?
September 22, 2019
A while ago, a friend gave me a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 to recycle. She said her daughter had spilled some liquid on it and it hadn’t worked since. I’m always happy to help people out when it comes to recycling electronics which I’ve been doing for years. But since I’m the techie curious type (since the 1980’s), and have resurrected many computers over the years, it was my “duty and obligation” to at least give the notepad a chance at resurrection. I’ve never owned a Surface Pro but heard good things about the notepad/laptop. So I jumped right into the project.
Since I’ve never owned or worked on a Surface Pro before, but had experience on some notepads, why not experiment. And there’s really nothing to loose except for some time. I outlined the steps I went through below which you might find helpful if you run into the same situation.
I had the power cord, so I tried plugging it in to see if it was getting power. First attempt…nothing. No boot. DOA. I tried another outlet and this time I noticed the power light on the connect lite up. Good…now were at least getting power. I did discover there are some issues with the power cord, and it has to be placed a certain way for the current to pass through to recharge. So noted. Moving forward. I was able to fully charge it and powered on the notepad. It booted to the Windows 10 sign in screen, asking for a password. Since I didn’t have it, I figured I would just do a re-install from the notepad with a clean copy of Windows. This would be fine, but now Surface Pro 4 has something called Bitlocker. It’s firmware security that requires you to initiate first access the notepad, and the security code is only available via the previous owner’s Microsoft account. So there was no way to go the easy way. I would have to format the drive and install a fresh copy of Windows 10. I’ve done this many times before, but I had no idea what obstacles I would face specifically on this device.
I was able to download an ISO copy of Windows 10, then used a utility called Rufus to create a boot USB drive and copy the ISO file to the USB drive. Installation was straight forward without any glitches. It took some time to get all the Window 10 completed (reboot, reboot, etc.) but after several hours, the OS and drivers were installed and I was able to access the notepad’s desktop just as if I just purchased it new.
The biggest issue with the notepad was the the water damage on the screen. It is most noticeable on the bottom right corner where there’s some distortion but it’s not really too bad. It’s most noticeable with a very light background, and undetectable with darker backgrounds. So I thought I give a trial run and see how it worked, and if the damage is a real issue or there was other damage not yet detected.
I have a notepad that I’ve used when traveling, but decided to use the Surface Pro 4 on a planned getaway to Lake Cumberland. I loaded a free program call AnyDesk I use to remotely access my computer at home for personal use. I picked up a free version several years ago from a site called SharewareOnSale who offers lots of free programs. I tested the remote access before leaving and everything check out okay.
Once we were at our cabin at lake Cumberland and settled in, I wanted to give the Surface Pro a try but to my dismay, no wireless access available. I had my android phone and the bars were almost non-existent at our cabin. But I was able to get some access depending on where I was on the porch, so I connected my phone as a WiFi device. There is something called tethering which is available under your network options on your phone. I was able to get it work by using my recharge cord (plugged the USB into the notepad and other connector to phone. I then turned the WiFi ON, and enable tethering. A moment later, the notepad showed I had a network connection via my phone and I could access the Internet. To say the least, I was totally shocked! I clicked on my remote access program, selected my home computer which I had already preset, and was able to log on successfully. The best signal I got was 2 bars but it was enough. There were a few times I lost connection so I simply reconnected AnyDesk and was back online. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are going to use remote access, be sure to test it before leaving to insure it is set up properly. You might need to make some changes/updates to your base computer that you will not be able to do remotely.
Besides a few hick ups along the way, overall it was a positive experience. I was able to download my photos onto the notepad to view and edit. Windows 10 offers free editing programs that let me crop and resize images,
So the Surface Pro 4 worked flawlessly. It’s a nice notepad with lots of features and is easy to use. And for an investment of a few hours work and a used keyboard, it was worth the effort. Besides the small distortion at the bottom right of the screen and recharge cord having to be placed a certain way to work, I’m pleased I took the time to check it out. And I got a nice notepad out of the deal.
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