Windows 10 often asked and solved problems..

Microsoft’s new operating system Windows 10 takes a great leap forward from the rock-solid and much-loved Windows 7, and it goes a long way to fixing the much-maligned Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Now we’ve lived with it for quite a few months, its imperfections and flaws have had time to surface. Whether it’s the irritation of an extra screen at login, privacy concerns such as Wi-Fi Sense, or the difficulty of not being able to upgrade in the first place, here are the fifteen biggest Windows 10 problems i see daily and how to fix them.

Can’t upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8?..

I could write a book about the issues reported by clients that have upgrade to Windows 10. From the Get Windows 10 (or GWX) app reporting that perfectly viable computers aren’t compatible, through to the app never appearing in the first place, and to stalled and failed downloads. If you’ve got a PC still stubbornly clinging to Windows 7 or Windows 8, there are a few things to try:

  1. Open Control Panel, run Windows Update and ensure that the PC is fully up to date. If updates fail, run the Windows Update Troubleshooter (see below, number 3)
  2. Use the Media Creation Tool. Don’t rely on GWX: visit https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10, click Download tool now, save the tool and run it on the PC you want to upgrade. If this didn’t work for you back when Windows 10 launched, try it again now – the tool has been much, much improved.
  3. Make sure that hardware Disable Execution Prevention (DEP) is switched on in the BIOS, referring to your motherboard manual for help if you need it. If you still have problems, use the Start Menu to search for ‘performance‘, run Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows, click the Data Execution Prevention tab and turn DEP on for all programs and services, then reboot and try again.

01_dep_enabled

Can’t upgrade to the latest Windows 10 version?..

Windows 10 received a significant update (the Windows 10 Fall update) in November, but many computers have failed to install it automatically. From the Start Menu, type ‘winver‘ and hit Enter. The latest build number is 10586.XX: if you’re still on 10240 you’ve missed out.

02_winver_10240

02_upgrading_to_10586_via_windows_update

You can try troubleshooting Windows Update (see below), but in my experience, it’s best to use the Media Creation Tool. Download it and use it to upgrade your PC or laptop. Note that you’ll see a ‘Ready to install‘ screen that, interestingly, doesn’t mention anything about an update: this is correct, just check that the installer is about to install the correct Windows 10 version (Home or Pro) and that it’s set to keep personal file and apps, then click Install – your data, apps and (almost) all of your settings will remain untouched.

02_windows_media_creation_tool

Appear tp have a lot less free storage than before?..

You may be unaware that after installing Windows 10, the previous version of the OS still remains in the background giving you the ability to ‘roll back’ that is return to the original OS within one month of upgrading. That’s right, when you upgraded, your old version of Windows didn’t just disappear into thin air, it’s still there in the back of your system going by the name of ‘windows.old’.

To remove this folder, select the Windows Start button and start typing “cleanup” to automatically search your system. A ‘Disk Cleanup’ app should appear before your eyes in the search criteria field. Click on this to open the app.

step3

A drive selection box will pop up. Select the drive your OS is installed on. The default drive should show first, this is usually C:/ drive. Once you’re confident this is your main drive where your OS is installed, select OK. Windows will scan your system for a few moments, then a box will pop up.

Now, two things could happen at this point. You could be presented with a list of files to delete right away, one of which is “Previous Windows Installation(s)”, or if that option is not visible, you will need to select the “Clean up system files” option on the bottom left.

Windows will do further calculations and give you another very similar looking box, this time with the option to delete ‘previous windows installation(s)‘. You might have to scroll down to find it, but it should be taking up a sizeable bit of drive space, in most cases, around 4/5GB. Tick this option and click OK. In the separate message box that appears asking if you’re certain you want to do this, click Delete Files, and you’re done.

Windows Update isn’t working!..

Many clients have reported issues with Windows Update in Windows 10. Check first that you’ve upgraded to the Windows 10 Fall update (see above, number 2). If you’re still getting problems, download and run the Windows Update Troubleshooter, then reboot and try to update again.

03_fixed_windows_update_issue

If the problems remain, you might need to get a bit more stuck in. First, check that System Restore is configured (see below, number 7) and create a restore point. With this done, use Win+x and select Command Prompt (Admin), then type ‘net stop wuauserv‘ (without the quotes) and hit Enter, followed by ‘net stop bits‘ and Enter. You should see confirmations that each service was either stopped or wasn’t running. Next, open Explorer, navigate to

C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution,

and delete its contents including any sub-folders. Now reboot, open Windows Update and click Check for updates.

Computer restarting with updates – Turn off forced updates..

Windows 10 handles post-update reboots much more elegantly, but some clients would still rather be in control from the outset.

There is a workaround for users running Windows 10 Pro: from the Start Menu, search for ‘gpedit‘ and run the Group Policy Editor. Expand Computer Configuration in the left-hand pane, and navigate to

Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Update

Double-click Configure Automatic Updates in the list, select the Enabled radio button, and in the left-hand box select 2 – Notify for download and notify for install. Now click OK, and you’ll be notified whenever there are updates – unfortunately, they’ll be a daily irritation if you’re using Windows Defender.

04_gpedit

The Group Policy Editor isn’t available on Windows 10 Home, but we’d recommend you at least open Windows Update, click Advanced options and select Notify to schedule restart from the Choose how updates are installed list. While you’re here, all Windows 10 users might want to click Choose how updates are delivered, and ensure that Updates from more than one place is either off, or set to PCs on my local network.

04_notify_to_schedule

Fixing the privacy and data defaults..

I am not overly enthused by the data-sharing defaults in Windows 10, and I would recommend all clients to review them periodically. Using the Start Menu to search for and run the Settings app, then click Privacy. In the left-hand pane, you’ll see many areas where your computer might be sharing data. It’s worth spending time checking that you’re comfortable with allowing apps to use your computer’s camera, microphone, account information and so on, and where you are, checking that no surprise apps appear in the lists. Note, too, that the default Feedback & diagnostics setting is to send enhanced data to Microsoft.

05_privacy

If you use Windows Defender, click the back arrow and select Update & Security, then Windows Defender. Check that you’re happy with the default behaviour, which is to enable Cloud-based detection and Automatic sample submission.

Many clients are uncomfortable with the idea of Wi-Fi Sense, which is designed to get you onto wireless networks more quickly. On a device with Wi-Fi, click the back arrow, select Network & Internet, click WiFi and select Manage WiFi Settings. I would strongly recommend turning off Connect to suggested open hotspots, Connect to networks shared by my contacts, and disabling the button under Paid WiFi services if it’s present.

05_wifi_sense

Additionally, Wi-Fi Sense might result in the sharing of your network’s wireless credentials among devices you don’t control: allow a guest to log in and their contacts – and potentially theirs in turn – may also be able to. Ridiculously, the only fix is to rename your network’s SSID so that it ends with “_optout“.

Where’s Safe Mode when you need it?..

I have already mentioned this in a prior article but keeps raising its head. Nothing gets you out of Windows trouble like Safe Mode but sadly you can no longer enter it by pressing F8 or Shift+F8 at boot. It’s still available in Windows 10 but you have to boot into Windows first, then either restart holding the left Shift key or via an option within Update & Security in the Settings app. Neither method however is helpful if your PC can’t boot into Windows in the first place.

You can’t get around this, which is why it’s helpful to create a boot time Safe Mode option before trouble arrives. Press Win+x and select Command Prompt (Admin), then type

bcdedit /copy {current} /d "Windows 10 Safe Mode"

and press Enter. From the Start Menu type ‘msconfig‘ run System Configuration in the results, and navigate to the Boot tab. Highlight the Windows 10 Safe Mode option you just created, tick Safe boot and select Minimal under Boot options and – if necessary – reduce the Timeout value so you won’t be inconvenienced – the minimum is three seconds. Tick Make all boot settings permanent (in fact you can simply return here to delete the Safe Mode entry) and select OK.

06_boot_tab

You can repeat these steps, substituting suitable names in quotes at the Command Prompt, to create shortcuts for Safe Mode with Networking (tick Network rather than Minimal in System Configuration) and Safe Mode with Command Prompt (Alternate shell).

06_boot_options

Enable System Restore.. (which Windows 10 has disabled)

Windows 10 upon installation has System Restore disabled by default; a potentially unwise move. Search for ‘Create a restore point‘ from the Start Menu and select it in the results, then highlight the system drive, select the Configure button and select Turn on system protection. Use the slider to set an appropriate amount of maximum disk space – about 5GB ought to be enough.

07_configure_system_restore

Bad localisation causing Cortana ‘not available’ fault..

Windows 10’s localisation options seem needlessly convoluted, and I have had a number of clients report incorrect localisation even in computers that were upgraded from correctly localised Windows 7 or Windows 8 installations. The most common issue seems to be dates in the American format MM/DD/YY, but Windows can also report that Cortana isn’t available, even in regions where it is.

From the Start Menu, search for region and choose Region & language settings. Check that United Kingdom is selected under Country or region, and check that your chosen language(s) appear under Languages. Select your primary language, click Options and click Download under the language pack, and speech options if they’re present. Check on this page that the keyboard is also correct – if it isn’t, add the correct one then select the wrong one and remove it.

08_region_settings

Click the back arrow and select Additional date, time & regional settings. Under Language, click Change input methods, select your chosen language, move it to the top of the list if it isn’t there already, and click Options. Under Windows display language you might see either Enabled or Available – if the latter, click Make this the primary language. If you don’t see either, download and install the language pack, then make it the primary language.

Click the back arrow to return to the language preferences, and in the left-hand pane click Change date, time, or number formats and check that the format is set to the correct language. Check the Home location on the Location tab, and finally use the Administrative tab to check the System locale, and use the Copy settings button to apply the settings to the Welcome screen and new user accounts.

Fix slow boot times..

Like Windows 8 before it, Windows 10 uses a hybrid boot to enable fast boot times. When you shut the system down, apps and app processes are terminated, but the Windows kernel itself is hibernated to allow for a faster restart. In theory, it’s great, but it seems to still be very slow for some Windows 10 users.

Disable it by searching for ‘Power Options‘ in the Start Menu and running the matching Control Panel applet, then in the left-hand pane click Choose what the power buttons do. Click Change settings that are currently unavailable, scroll down and un-tick Turn on fast start-up, then click Save changes. This should prevent very slow starts on affected PCs. Some clients report that if they subsequently reboot, re-trace their steps and re-enable fast start-up the problem remains cured.

If you’re dual-booting between Windows 10 and Windows 7, switching fast start-up off will also fix the problem where Windows 7 checks the disks each time you boot it: With fast start-up enabled, the earlier operating system doesn’t recognise that the disks have been properly shut down by Windows 10.

I can’t play a DVD!..

This is a easy and very quick fix! Windows 10 shipped without an app to play DVDs on. Which is not great if you like to watch movies on your PC, however, you can download VLC, which is free and works just as well if not better.

Windows 10 using 4G on laptop data plans..

Windows 10 often uses your internet bandwidth invisibly in the background which can play havoc with your data allowance if you’re using a portable hotspot.

To stop Windows 10 devouring your mobile data allowance in the background:

  1. Go to Settings, then Network & Internet.
  2. Select Wi-Fi and then Advanced Options.
  3. Click “Set as metered connection” to on, and Windows will stop fetching non-essential data in the background, such as app updates and Start screen tile updates.

Post navigation