Fixing Common Windows 10 Issues

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Rob574188

PC Specialist
Hi all,

I thought it might be a good idea to include instructions for a few common things we can do to resolve windows issues and how I would suggest going about them. First things first, you will probably want to create a new windows recovery media (this might be useful at some point so making one and storing it away in case you need it might be a good idea although bear in mind you can always update these to a new version to save yourself having to do updates if you reinstall windows), for this, you will likely need access to another windows PC. Please also have a USB drive ready (note any data will be formatted so please be sure to remove anything important to your computer before proceeding).

Creating a Windows 10 USB

Please find the tool we would need to make a windows USB here:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/software-download/windows10 (if you would rather use a windows disk you already have skip to the “Windows 10 reinstall” section)

Simply go to the page and select download tool now.

With this on your computer, pop the USB into the machine and run the tool, if you agree to the license terms, select Accept.

On the What do you want to do? page, select Create installation media for another PC, and then select Next.

Next select the relevant language and keyboard layout ect. (English UK)

After this select USB flash drive. Attach a blank USB flash drive with at least 8GB of space. Any content on the flash drive will be deleted.

This can take a while but once done the USB will have a fresh copy of windows installed.

Windows 10 Repairs

First insert the Windows 10 installation media into the PC whether this is a disk or a USB stick.

With this inserted, restart the PC and repeatedly tap the F8 key (or F7 if you are using a laptop)

This should bring up a “please select boot device” menu, in here every piece of hardware the computer believes it can boot from should show in here.

Navigating with the arrow keys, please find the relevant option, this will be the name of your USB stick if you have made a Windows USB or the name of the DVD drive (usually something like HL-DT-ST DVDRAM) if you are using a disk. Select this by repeatedly hitting enter until the windows loading symbol appears.

After this you will need to select your language and hit next.

On the next screens select Repair (in the bottom left corner).

Next click troubleshoot then Advanced. This will bring you to a screen with all the repair options we would hope to use.

First thing I would try is the Automatic Repair, if you click this it will run through its repairs and hopefully this will solve the issues (hopefully without affecting your data).

Next thing to try if this doesn’t work is the Command prompt, these commands can resolve some issues with varying success. Please go into this option and run the following commands, if one of these doesn’t work, I suggest persevering with the other commands:

(type these commands and hit enter to run)


DISM Check

DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth

DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth

DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth


SFC Scan

SFC /scannow


Bootrec

Bootrec /fixmbr

Bootrec /fixboot

Bootrec /scanos

Bootrec /rebuildbcd

Type "A" to add the installation to the boot list and hit enter.

If this still doesn’t resolve the issues you are seeing, the system restore tool may allow you to restore to a point before the issue arose.

Failing this I would say a reinstall is definitely the way to proceed.

Windows 10 Reinstall

First insert the Windows 10 installation media into the PC whether this is a disk or a USB stick.

With this inserted, restart the PC and repeatedly tap the F8 key (or F7 if you are using a laptop)

This should bring up a “please select boot device” menu, in here every piece of hardware the computer believes it can boot from should show in here.

Navigating with the arrow keys, please find the relevant option, this will be the name of your USB stick if you have made a Windows USB or the name of the DVD drive (usually something like HL-DT-ST DVDRAM) if you are using a disk. Select this by repeatedly hitting enter until the windows loading symbol appears.

After this you will need to select your language and hit next.

On the next screens select install now then agree to the license terms and select “Custom (Advanced)” in the next menu.

A table of your drives and partitions will now show. Identify your windows drive by finding the drive with “Windows” or “system” showing. You will notice these may be Drive 0, 1, 2 ect and may potentially have several partitions (e.g Drive 0 partition 1: system reserved). If you are installing a new, blank drive, skip the next step.

Select all the partitions on the Windows drive in turn and select delete below (you can ignore the message that pops up) until you are left with “unallocated space” only on this drive.

Select the unallocated space and click next. Windows will now install and hopefully this should boot into your first time setup when done.

Once set up, I always advise going into the windows settings and searching for updates as this should pick up any relevant drivers (unless you have a laptop, in which case you can get them from your online account with us).

These are by no means the cure to all issues so if you are unsure it might be an idea to look for other threads seeing the issue you are experiencing or, failing that, creating your own.
 
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ubuysa

The BSOD Doctor
Moderator
If you're having problems the very first thing you should always do is to unplug everything from your PC except the keyboard and mouse and then reboot. This step is very important because it eliminates all external devices as being the cause of your issues - and it quite often is flaky external devices that cause issues.

The next thing to do is to open Task Manager and click the Start-Up tab. Here you'll see all the (non-Windows) programs that start automatically with Windows. You'll probably see 'system' things like Audio Manager, Windows Defender, etc. in there and you should leave these entries alone (because you need them). For all other entries that start third-party programs (iTunes updater, Java updater, Dropbox, etc. etc.) click the entry and then click the Disable button. This will stop these programs auto-starting at boot time. I would disable all that are clearly non-essential and then reboot. This step is very important because it eliminates these third-party programs as being the cause of your issues - and it quite often is flaky third-party programs that are the problem. Don't forget to re-enable all those programs that are ok afterwards though!

If your PC is working but running slower than it used to. This is a very common problem with PCs over about 12 months old that have only a hard drive installed. If you have an SSD as your Windows drive this section does not apply.

The hard drive is the slowest component in your PC bar none. If it's not running at absolutely peak performance then the whole PC runs slow. Because of the way hard disks work they do eventually slow down over time and this is almost always what slows the PC down. Here's what to do....

1. Remove garbage and temporary files. The Windows disk cleanup tool can do this and is quite good. Some third-party tools are better though - ask here for advice.

2. Archive onto an external hard drive all those files that you almost never use but which you want to keep. Old photos, videos etc. are good candidates. You really don't want any hard disk to be more than about 70% full, things do slow down considerably on an over-full disk.

3. Finally, defragment the drive. The Windows defragmenter can do this and is quite good. Some third-party tools are better though - ask here for advice.

You'll find your PC is running much slicker after all the above. :)

Things NOT to do. I think it's just as useful to have a list of things not to do - that's because experience shows that these things do cause problems eventually...

Do not run a registry cleaner. These things are snake oil, if the registry needed cleaning then Windows would have a tool to do it. Registry cleaners do cause lots and lots of problems.

Do not run any kind of 'Windows Tune-Up' application. These things are also snake oil, they generally do little good and they often cause lots of problems.

Do not use any third-party driver search and install tools. The ONLY places you should get your drivers from is either PCS or the manufacturer's website for each component. It's worth mentioning that drivers do not have to be kept up to date in the same way Windows does. If your hardware is working without issues then leave the drivers alone - even if they are years out of date they are still perfect for your needs.

Do NOT update the BIOS without talking to PCS first. The BIOS, like drivers, does not need to be kept up to date in the same way Windows does. In addition, updating with the wrong BIOS code can wreck your PC - it will need to go back to PCS in that case and if you didn't check with PCS first you might find your warranty won't cover this repair.
 
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ubuysa

The BSOD Doctor
Moderator
Next thing to try if this doesnÂ’t work is the Command prompt, these commands can resolve some issues with varying success. Please go into this option and run the following commands, if one of these doesnÂ’t work, I suggest persevering with the other commands:

(type these commands and hit enter to run)


DISM Check

DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth

DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth

DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth


SFC Scan

SFC /scannow


I think a few words about what these commands do and why you'd use them would also help, and personally I have an issue with the suggested order here too. :)

The SFC command is the System File Checker and when you run it with the /scannow option it checks key files in your Windows installation for corruptions. Any files found to be corrupted are replaced be copying them from the original system image. This image is a file called install.wim (it's extracted from a software distribution file called install.esd) and it's located in a hidden folder in your Windows folder which is placed there at installation time.

If the sfc /scannow command reports that no corruptions were found then you do not need to run the dism command at all.

If the sfc /scannow command reports that corruptions were found but were corrected then you do not need to run the dism command at all.

Only if the sfc /scannow command reports that corruptions were found but they could not be corrected do you need to run the dism command.

Note that the 'SFC Scan' in Rob's post is not an sfc command, it's a header for this section of text. :)

The DISM command is the Deployment Image Servicing and Management command and it allows you to 'manage' the contents of the install.wim image file that the SFC command uses for repairs. That's why you only need to run dism if sfc can't repair any errors.

You'll note that (for our purposes) the dism command is always run with the /online /cleanup-image options and it's just the third option that changes. Note also that the 'DISM Check' in Rob's post is not a dism command, it's a header for this section of text. :)

The dism ... /checkhealth option checks to see whether any corruption of install.wim has been logged. You don't actually need to run this command because the /scanhealth option also checks for corruption, however /checkhealth completes in a second or two whilst /scanhealth can take a long time to complete. If /checkhealth reports no component store corruptions detected then the install.wim file is probably ok. I would still run /scanhealth however....

The dism ... /scanhealth option checks the install.wim file itself for component store corruption and this can take from 1 minute to more than 10 minutes to complete depending on the speed of your PC. If /scanhealth reports that no corruptions were found and the sfc /scannow command was unable to repair any errors found then you're probably looking at a reinstall of Windows.

The dism ... /restorehealth command rebuilds any component store corruptions found in install.wim. It's only necessary if either the /checkhealth or /scanhealth options find any corruption. The /restorehealth command uses Windows Update to recover any corrupted files so you have to be online to the Internet to use this option. It is possible to use /restorehealth with a previously downloaded install.wim in an offline mode, but that's beyond the scope of this simple guide. If /restorehealth was not able to repair any component store corruptions and the sfc /scannow command was unable to repair any errors found then you're probably looking at a Windows reinstall.

If dism does find component store corruptions and /restorehealth was able to repair them then re-run the sfc /scannow command and it should be able to repair the errors originally found (because the install.wim file is now intact). If /scannow is still unable to repair any errors found then you're almost certainly looking at a Windows reinstall.

If sfc /scannow finds errors it cannot repair even after a dism ... /restorehealth then don't ignore it. In this case there is a problem with your Windows installation that will bite you in many ways and you really do need to schedule a reinstallation as soon as convenient.
 
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