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13 common Windows 10 problems – and how to quickly fix them

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Windows 10

Windows 10 problems: The most common Windows 10 problems and how to fix them including plenty of Anniversary Update advice on what to do if the Windows 10 Anniversary Update is freezing your PC – or you can't install it to begin with.

Windows 10 has proven to be a fine upgrade over Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, but despite having been on the market since July 2015 there are still plenty of issues that people are encountering.

Some of them are flaws, some are features, and some of are flat-out bugs – but all have had people scratching their heads.

These are the most annoying Windows 10 problems we've come across and where to start troubleshooting them, beginning with the most generic balls up.

Related: Windows 10 vs Windows 7 – Should I upgrade?

1. Windows 10 Anniversary Update messed up my PC!

Yeah, we know. Ever since the Anniversary Update started rolling out, users have been reporting that their machines are hanging upon restart, and some are completely locking out mouse and keyboard input. All that before the freezing issue was officially documented.

As well as the freeze-specific solutions below, there are a few additional workarounds that seem to have been working for people, according to this Reddit thread – including disabling Secure Boot – but that's not appropriate (or effective) for everyone.

Microsoft has additionally recommended that affected users perform a clean install of Windows. The first way to do this is to download the Media Creation Tool, right click the MediaCreationTool.exe file, then click Run as administrator. Select Upgrade this PC now then click Next.

The other method is to upgrade using the Windows 10 ISO file, which is a much more involved task. Your best bet is to head straight to the relevant Microsoft Community page and follow the guidelines listed there.

Related: Windows 10 Anniversary Update: What's new?

Microsoft Windows 10

2. The Anniversary Update is freezing my PC!

As well as just generally borking your PC, there's a specific Windows 10 problem where the OS flat out freezes on computers where it's stored on an SSD – a flaw that Microsoft has confirmed, though it's admitted it doesn't know why.

In a half-hearted mea culpa, Microsoft confesses:

“Microsoft has received a small number of reports of Windows 10 freezing after installing the Anniversary Update on systems with the operating system stored on a solid-state drive (SSD) and apps and data stored on a separate drive. This issue does not occur when starting Windows 10 in Safe Mode.”

However, there is now at least some official guidance coming out of Redmond, with Microsoft advising users experiencing the borkage to downgrade to an older version of Windows 10.

There are two ways to go about rolling back depending on how recently you've upgraded, according to Microsoft's instructions.

"Installation of the Anniversary Update does include the ability to "go back" or return to the previous version of Windows within 10 days of the update. If you are unable to log into Windows 10 and choose to uninstall the Anniversary Update, here are two methods that can be used:

Method 1: Using the Recovery Console

Restart your PC. When you get to the sign-in screen, hold the Shift key down while you select Power > Restart.

After your PC restarts to the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Go back to the previous build. If you don’t see this option, try Method 2.

Method 2: Using the Settings app from Safe Mode

Restart your PC. When you get to the sign-in screen, hold the Shift key down while you select Power > Restart.

After your PC restarts to the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart.

After your PC restarts, you'll see a list of options. Select 4 or F4 to start your PC in Safe Mode.

Open the Settings app.

Select Update & security and then the Recovery tab.

Under “Go back to an earlier build”, click the Get started button and follow the instructions."

Watch: What's new in Windows 10?

3. Why can't I play DVDs?

This one goes down as a feature rather than a glitch. Microsoft opted to launch its latest OS without a media player, for some strange reason.

Fortunately, the company has since launched the Windows DVD Player app, which is available on the Microsoft Store right now.

Normally it'll set you back £11.59, but if you upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 with Windows Media Center or Windows 8.1 with Windows Media Center, it's free.

Related: Best laptops

WinDVD

4. Printer trouble

Having trouble getting your printer to work in Windows 10? You're not alone. The easy way to fix this is to remove and reinstall your printer drivers - you know, just like you used to do in 1995.

Just go into Control Panel, select Devices and Printers, right-click on your printer, and opt to remove it.

Now go to your printer manufacturer's website and install the appropriate drivers for your model. These don't even need to be Windows 10 drivers - Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will also do.

Canon

5. Low virtual memory

One of the performance issues that's emerged in Windows 10 relates to its use of virtual memory. The OS is a little stingy with its allocation, and if you don't have loads of RAM that can cause performance problems.

To fix this, go to the Control Panel search field and type 'Performance.' Now choose 'Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows'. Click the Advanced tab and hit Change under the Virtual memory section.

Uncheck the 'Automatically manage paging file size for all drives' box, select the drive containing Windows 10 (probably C:), and select Custom Size. Now change Initial Size and Maximum Size to the values recommended by Windows.

Set and OK the settings and reboot your computer.

Related: Windows 10 Mobile review

Windows 10

6. Why are my files opening in the wrong apps?

Probably because you changed the default apps for certain file types in your previous version of Windows and forgot all about it.

Windows 10 has set those associations back to their default status. Unfortunately, you'll need to go through and change them all again manually.

Fortunately, it's not too difficult to do. Simply right-click a file that isn't opening as you want it to, highlight 'Open with' and click 'Choose another app.' Now select the app you want to use to open the file type and tick the 'Always use this app.' Now hit OK.

Related: Windows 10 vs Windows 8.1

Windows

7. Microsoft Edge ate my favourites

It's all very well Microsoft ditching Internet Explorer in favour of its new-gen Microsoft Edge browser. But what about all those favourites you had saved in crusty old IE, or even another browser?

Don't worry, you can just import them into Microsoft Edge. Just hit the three-lines menu in Edge and select 'Import favourites', then choose the appropriate browsers from which you want to obtain your bookmarks and hit 'Import.'

It's that simple.

Related: How to install Microsoft Edge extensions

Edge

8. What happened to those snappy start-up times?

When you first installed Windows 10, you probably remarked at how speedy the start-up process was. Now, just a few months down the line, it's almost like the bad old MSDOS days all over again.

This is probably because you have a shed load of apps set to start up every time Windows 10 does. Most of the time, this is completely unnecessary.

To change this, go into Task Manager and click 'More details.' Click on the 'Start-up' tab along the top, then click on the Status column to filter out the apps in question.

Now look through the apps marked 'Enabled' and see if there are any you don't need from start-up. Right-click on such non-essential apps, select 'Disable', and reboot.

Problem solved.

Related: Lumia 950 review

Settings

9. Windows Update forces buggy software on me

Microsoft has made the update process on Windows 10 compulsory. You can't opt out. This can be problematic when, as sometimes occurs, the software update is buggy.

The way around this is to search for and enable System Protection, which will then create a restore point that you can roll back to if the latest update is playing up.

Alternatively, there are ways to stop Microsoft forcing Windows 10 upgrades on you, which have proved increasingly popular.

The steps we outline in our guide below should prove effective, but let us know in the comments below if this isn't the case.

Related: How to stop forced Windows 10 upgrades

No Windows 10

10. Must I sign-in every time?

Fed up of typing in an account password every time to turn on your Windows 10 computer? There's a way around that, you know.

Just press WIN+R, then type 'netplwiz' and press Enter. Click on the user account you want to automatically sign in to when you start up and clear the 'Users must enter a user name...' box if available and hit OK.

Now, in the Automatically log on box, enter your password twice and hit OK.

Watch: What's new in Windows 10?

11. Where did all my storage go?

You may have found that Windows 10 has sucked up a lot more storage space than you anticipated. In actual fact, it's your old version of Windows hogging the space.

Microsoft has set things up so that your old Windows version is still there in the background, waiting to be rolled back to should you take against its latest version. Which is pretty nice of it, when you think about it.

For most people, though, Windows 10 will be just peachy, and you can afford to delete the old Windows files to make some extra space.

To do so, open the Disk Cleanup app (try typing cleanup in the Start menu). Now select the drive Windows is installed on and select OK to start scanning.

Look out for the option to delete Previous Windows Installation(s) and select it if present. Otherwise, select Clean up system files, which should in turn present you with the aforementioned deletion option. Go through the approval process, and you should find your hard drive now has a few GB of extra space.

Windows 10 Computer Management

12. Where did Safe Mode go?

Through successive versions of Windows, Safe Mode has provided a reassuring fall back should your system go belly up. Just hold F8 (or Shift and F8) whilst booting up to kick into a stripped-back version of Windows, and fix the problem.

Microsoft appears to ripped away this security blanket of a feature in Windows 10 – but Safe Mode is still available. You need to jump through a few hoops to get to it, though.

The main way to access Safe Mode in Windows 10 is to restart your system from within Windows whilst holding the left Shift key. Alternatively, head into Update & Security within the Settings menu and select the option there.

Of course, if your system isn't booting up at all -– which, if you need Safe Mode, is quite possible - none of those options is helpful. The only way around this is to create your own Safe Mode boot option, which requires a little behind-the-scenes tinkering. Just follow these guidelines.

First, press Win+X and hit Command Prompt (Admin), then type bcdedit /copy {current} /d "Windows 10 Safe Mode" followed by Enter.

Next, in the Start menu, type msconfig, run System Configuration in the results, and head to the Boot tab. Now highlight the Windows 10 Safe Mode option you just created, tick the Safe boot box, and select Minimal under Boot options. Opt to Make all boot settings permanent and click OK.

Buy Now: Windows 10 at Amazon.com from $92

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13. I want to upgrade to the Anniversary Update and can't!

We hear you. Ironically for a company that harassed you so aggressively to enable the Windows 10 auto-update feature, Microsoft is actually staggering Anniversary Update rollout and has confirmed that you may not be prompted to make the jump until November.

However, there's an easy way to force the upgrade immediately. Just head to the Windows 10 update tool page and follow the prompts, which will help you create an ISO file, or disk image, or Windows 10 that you can then install manually.

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Did this feature help you? Got other Windows 10 woes, especially post-Anniversary Update? Share you thoughts in the comments below

chaosdefinesorder

July 3, 2015, 12:27 pm

that concept file explorer is beautiful!

AntoxaGray

July 3, 2015, 4:24 pm

"1. Tabs in File explorer"
Only noobs and lamers use file explorer. All tech savy people use Total Commander.

Microsoft should include Total Commander as standard program. Even TC in Windows 98 had better interface than File Explorer in Windows 10. Microsoft, please!

They also need to fix another thing: improve folder selection to install programs. It's still using that horrible small non-scrollable window in some installers. They can't fix it in more than 15 years, really?

AntoxaGray

July 3, 2015, 4:29 pm

still not as good as oldschool Total Commander, which was made in 1997 and still rocks.

Dead Words

July 3, 2015, 7:48 pm

The only things on that list that'll be fixed is stability issues and possibly UI consistency. There will be no major changes before launch. However, iterative updates will most likely eventually add the features you're looking for.

Eric Hammond

July 3, 2015, 11:28 pm

Holy shit¡ 1988 wants their nerd back! Total commander. Get a life! Lol

Eric Hammond

July 3, 2015, 11:30 pm

Move the Cortana and Task View icons??? Can you move the start button??? No! Have you ever wanted to?? Please....

Ripov

July 5, 2015, 4:00 pm

most programmes written for w98 are still good. I still use lotus 97 adobe PhotoBusinesss 1 and DCAD. there's still nothing better for a sensible price .They're a bit reluctant in W8.1, but I'm stuck with that cos it came on the PC when I bought it! I'd still run 98 - a nice obedient configurable system, except when it hangs because it's asked to move more than a couple of dozen files in one go - except the missus has a videocam and no editors run in 98, at least not if you want the output before next Wednesday.

JadePrimo

July 7, 2015, 2:26 pm

Add OneDrive access to Windows 10 Mobile File Explorer, as it already there is in PC's.

RobertStewart

August 1, 2015, 3:16 pm

Microsoft 10 looks like a shell program for Microsoft 8.1 Bring back shades of Windows X over-top DOS. Can MS hire someone from Android when it comes to desktop and settings design. Mouse swiping and sticky apps (not links) would help.

I see so many beta test screen shots on the web having a the time and weather on the desktop. What I'm I missing here. Not to mention, search not being able to find any of OS programs. However, she gave me millions of web results e.g. 'recovery disk'. Took me three hours to find this.

Pore Flay

August 2, 2015, 1:36 pm

Can Windows 10 developers put an expand button right at the side of start menu bar just to extend the start menu bar with the metro icons, instead of appearing all them when I press start button? I just want to bring back the feel of original windows start menu.

darkflux

August 4, 2015, 8:01 pm

why does the PC Settings need to be an App anywayz? was the Control Panel broke? then why "fix" it?

emmanuel bta.

August 20, 2015, 1:57 am

Totally a crap article. A feature that don't exit is a bug or usability problem? an interface that is not suited to your personal need is a bug?

Carolyn Anne

August 21, 2015, 5:45 am

This story is a perfect example of why I'm NOT upgrading from Windows 8.1. When 8.1 first came out I upgraded to it. Boy, did I regret it! It wasn't long after I upgraded that the laptop I was using at that time was downgraded back to its original OS of Windows 8. Now I love 8.1. I'm going to give Windows 10 a few months (maybe a year) to get all its kinks worked out before I upgrade. I learned a valuable lesson when 8.1 came out: don't be so quick to jump on the upgrade wagon.

Shane

October 4, 2015, 4:16 pm

So your argument is that we shouldn't be using Explorer at all?

You're completely missing the boat, Virginia. It should be in Explorer. End of story.

BehindIs

December 1, 2015, 2:40 am

annoying things Ive noticed so far.

Alt+tab has changed. before i could alt tab between two windows and only if i tapped tab would i go thru the list. now you have to tap tab even if your switching between he 2 most recent apps. caught me out heaps so far but i guess ill get used to it eventually.

date format is only in American format, rather than everybody else in the whole damn world format. i cant make my date read 01/12/15 closest is 01/dec/15, yet they still have 12/01/15 and not dec/01/15? why not have 01/12/15, its the standard way for everyone in the world to write the date (except America) and old windows had it. weird. i thought windows thought it was January and i had to update it but it kept reverting to 12th of jan and im like, what is going on here!?

oh yeah and saving a word file as pdf, the pdf dosnt pop up like it used to. now i have to open it the long way every time.
and the pdf icon has changed, its an 'e' for explorer. harder to pick out in a long list of files.

Jamie Maclean

December 7, 2015, 12:06 pm

What is a DVD? :-)

Dead Words

December 7, 2015, 12:25 pm

I understand about the date issue. I'm American but I still prefer the more global alternative method (day-month-year) but you don't have many options.

Dead Words

December 7, 2015, 12:25 pm

I don't know, I jumped on the upgrade wagon six months before Windows 10 was released and I've been happy.

Dead Words

December 7, 2015, 12:28 pm

The Control Panel is a confusing and unwelcoming interface that isn't organized particularly well and is horrid with touch screen devices or anything that isn't a mouse. The new universal Settings app compiles everything into a new, easily navigated interface with a simple, clean design that is the same between any Windows 10 platform (such as Mobile). It's not perfect yet, but it's a good idea. The Control Panel wasn't broken, no, but neither was the Settings menu in Windows Phone 8.1 and no one was sad to see that go.
And if you're questioning my assumption that the Control Panel is confusing and unwelcoming, I'm constantly having to come in to help people in my family navigate it and find what they're looking for. Windows 10 helps solve this problem.

L4lefty

December 7, 2015, 1:24 pm

You define what a bug is, then? In this context, my dictionary suggests it can be a fault or deficiency.
A deficiency can be described as the state of needing something that is absent or unavailable.
There's plenty about Windows 10 that bugs me.

L4lefty

December 7, 2015, 1:28 pm

Do grown ups use the phrase 'Noobs' and 'lamers'? Really? Sorry, I can't take you seriously now, however valid your point. You can speak for all tech savy people, can you? Dear me.

Peter Lunn

December 7, 2015, 1:55 pm

Why is the Start Menu ALWAYS on the left side of the screen even if your running multiple screens even if you have the menu bar on one screen (for example Menu bar in the middle of three screens the start menu ALWAYS appears on the left side of the left most screen) .

John

December 7, 2015, 2:56 pm

You should also disable that bandwidth stealing P2P crap that Windows 10 enables by default. I used by router to track data in and out. In 5 mins, Windows 10 had used MY bandwidth to upload over 400mb of their crap to the internet! Cheeky bastards.

Javed

December 7, 2015, 4:52 pm

Can you please advise how do i switch off the bandwidth stealing P2P crap? Thanks.

Javed

December 7, 2015, 4:58 pm

Dont worry about it, i've found out how to do it, thanks

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