100 Common Windows 10 Problems And How To Solve Them
Now that Windows 10 has over 700 million users over PCs, tablets and smartphones, it’s one of the most popular operating systems (OS) in the world. The follow up to Windows 8.1 has been out for more than three years at this point, which has given its users plenty of time to bond with the OS.
And, while many of the bugs, annoyances and quirks have been patched out since launch, new Windows 10 problems and security exploits keep showing up. Even experts are suggesting that Windows 10 updates are a mess.
And, if Windows 10 October 2018 Update problems, including the loss of data, are any hint, Microsoft has its work cut out for it. Plus, there are plenty of Windows 10 problems that have persisted to this day, like printer connectivity issues, even in the Windows 10 October 2018 Update.
Either way, if you’re having a hard time with the operating system, we compiled a guide to 100 of the most common Windows 10 problems, as well as instructions on how to fix them. So, if you need help troubleshooting your device, read on.
1. Having enough space to install Windows 10
If you’re planning to move to Windows 10, actually installing the OS is the first area you could potentially run into problems with. Installing a new operating system requires a certain amount of free space on your drive so that it can be downloaded and certain elements can be run successfully.
For Windows 10, the space requirement is 16GB, which should be kept free on the main system drive the computer uses. This is actually the same as previous versions of Windows, so if you’ve upgraded before you can most likely do it again.
To check how much space you have left, go to My Computer (or This PC depending on the version of Windows you’re running) where any drives you have will be listed. You can see the remaining space indicated underneath each drive, or you can right click and select Properties for a clearer overview (the system drive is usually C:).
2. Checking you have a powerful enough PC
Just as with space requirements, your PC will also have to be capable of running Windows 10. This means that it must reach certain minimum system requirements.
The requirements for running Windows 10 are relatively low: A processor of 1GHz or faster; 1GB (32-bit) or 2GB (64-bit) of RAM; 16GB of free drive space; Microsoft DirectX 9 graphic device; and a Microsoft account combined with internet access.
To find out your PC’s spec, go to Control Panel and select System and Security, then System.
However, keep in mind that these are the minimum requirements, and you should shoot for higher specs to have a smooth and enjoyable experience.
3. Activating Windows 10
Some users have reported issues with activating their copies of Windows 10, which could have been down to a number of different reasons. In some cases, the easiest way to get around the problem is to purchase a legitimate copy of Windows 10.
Unlike previous versions of Windows, the latest one is almost exclusively available online, which means that official Microsoft websites are the best bet for your purchase. The company was giving the OS away for free, but that promotion ended quite a while ago.
Microsoft has a helpful website that provides a downloadable copy in either 32-bit or 64-bit versions.
If you do find that you’re unable to activate Windows 10 successfully, handily Microsoft introduced a new activation troubleshooter feature way back in the Anniversary Update. You’ll find this in Settings, then click Update & Security, go to Activation and select Troubleshoot (you won’t see this option if the OS has been activated).
4. Avoiding inconvenient software update reboots
Windows 10 is, in many ways, a truly internet-based operating system. Mostly, this is a bonus but there are times when it isn’t – and Microsoft’s attitude towards operating system updates is one such time.
The most annoying part of automatic updates is the restarting, which can seemingly come at random (and inconvenient times). The simplest way to counteract this is to head to Windows Update (in Settings > Update & Security), click on Advanced Options and then Notify to Schedule Restart, which means the OS will request a reboot instead of interrupting everything you’re working on.
5. Updating old software to work with Windows 10
Each version of a new operating system comes with its own set of backwards compatibility issues and Windows 10 is no exception.
The transition from Windows 8.1 to 10 is far less jarring than the move from Windows 7 to 8 was, but there are still certain applications that can become broken and, in some cases, cease to work at all.
One such application is Chrome, which some users have even had to fully delete and reinstall. If a program isn’t working with Windows 10, try looking in the Windows Store for an update and, if that doesn’t work, delete and reinstall it.
Over time, more and more developers will get round to updating their programs for Windows 10 so, if you’re reading this a few years from now, this likely won’t be much of a problem anymore.
6. Changing privacy and Wi-Fi Sense settings
Data security is incredibly important, especially as hackers become increasingly sophisticated and the number of cyber-attacks is on the up.
Windows 10 comes with a decent set of built-in protection measures, but you can never be too careful. One such feature that should be disabled by privacy-minded individuals is Wi-Fi Sense, which automatically shares the Wi-Fi password across Windows 10 devices on the same account.
Microsoft updated Wi-Fi Sense to share less data, but switching it off is the ideal way of preventing anything you don’t want happening. To turn it off, go to the Start Menu, select Settings and click on Network & Internet, then Wi-Fi, and head to Manage Wi-Fi Settings – turn off all the options in here.
Also in Settings, it’s possible to get an overview of everything else happening on Windows 10 in terms of privacy – unsurprisingly, under the Privacy section. In here, you’ll be presented with a bunch of toggles that adjust some privacy options to help keep everything under control.
7. Printer compatibility
Printer compatibility can be an issue for older devices. If you’re jumping from Windows 7 (or earlier) to Windows 10 then it’s definitely worth updating all available printer drivers, which should help prevent them not working post-upgrade.
Doing this is simple. Just search Google (or Bing, depending on your preference) for the name of your printer and download the latest Windows 10 compatible drivers. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install them and you’re good to go.
8. Changing the browser to Chrome or Firefox
Microsoft ships Windows 10 with Edge, the successor to its Internet Explorer browser (although IE is still present in the OS). For many people, however, using Chrome or Firefox is the norm, no matter what Microsoft wants.
To install Chrome or Firefox – and get back to normality – open Edge, search for either, and find a Windows 10 version. Download it, install it, and make sure it’s set as the default browser option so that Edge doesn’t keep reappearing. To do this, head to Settings, System, and click on Default Apps – click under Web Browser and you can then select your preferred default browser.
9. Learning to use Edge
If, however, you do want to use Edge then you’ll find it’s actually a decent browser, despite a few notable flaws.
One thing to note in particular is that running Edge on a touchscreen PC or tablet yields the best results as Microsoft has optimised it to support touch or pen input. Websites can be doodled on, shared, and generally messed around with in a way that other browsers don’t really facilitate.
Microsoft has also focused on making Edge fast and, above all, battery efficient. Anyone who has ever used Chrome on a laptop knows that it just sucks up battery life, so this may be a refreshing change for some.
Favourites, browsing history, passwords, and so on can be shared between Windows 10 devices, too, which means that using Edge on one machine will be the same experience as using Edge on another. It’s worth taking some time to give Edge at least a tryout before you decide it’s a problem and make any vows involving bargepoles and so on.
10. Edge won’t stream music when minimised
The browser does come with some annoying features, however. Because it’s a Universal Windows App, Edge runs on smartphones, tablets, PCs, and almost any other device. This means that it sometimes has a problem with being too much like a phone app rather than a PC program.
One of the ways this can manifest itself is by refusing to play media when minimised. Now, while it appears as this problem is mostly a thing of the past, if you do experience this problem, you can simply restart the browser – or just use a different app to stream your music.
11. Blocking pop-ups in Edge
Want to block pop-up ads in Edge? Fortunately, putting a stop to these bothersome things isn’t difficult. Within the Edge browser, you need to click on Settings (found in the top-right ‘ellipsis’ menu, the three dots), then click on View Advanced Settings – in here you need to turn on Block Pop-ups.
12. Choosing Google over Bing
Many people just don’t like Bing, most likely because they have always used Google. That’s fine, and we’re sure Microsoft understands.
Changing Edge over to Google is relatively simple. Navigate in Edge to Google.com (or Yahoo, or whatever your preference) and click the ellipsis button in the top-right corner. A drop-down menu will appear: select Settings, and then navigate down to click View Advanced Settings. From here, scroll down to ‘Search in the address bar with…’ and select Add New.
Some users have reported that Add New often has no results in it, suggesting that no new search engine can be added. This isn’t true. To get past this, close and then reopen Edge and (hopefully) some results will have appeared.
13. Grappling with the touchscreen
If you’ve bought a Windows 10 machine that has a touchscreen then you are, by and large, getting the best experience with the OS.
Ever since Windows 8, Microsoft has been optimising its operating system for the finger – and sometimes pen – with large tiles, easy-to-scroll menus, and so on.
However, it can still be a little disjointed, but the easiest way to remedy this is simple: head to Start > Settings > System > Tablet Mode. Then turn Tablet Mode on – this optimises Windows 10 for fingers rather than pointers, making it far easier to use.
14. Grappling with the touchpad
Having a touchpad-enabled laptop is also good for Windows 10, but some users have reported that the upgrade from Windows 7 (and sometimes Windows 8) breaks it.
One of the ways to solve this is by first checking to see if your keyboard has a key that turns the touchpad off. If it doesn’t – or the right setting is toggled – then head to Devices > Mouse & Touchpad> Additional mouse options.
A new window will appear. From here, select the tab that says Device Settings, then Devices, and then make sure the touchpad is enabled.
If none of these options work, press Windows Key + X, select Device Manager, then the option for Mice and other pointing devices, and update the driver. This should fix things.
15. Finding Safe Mode
Safe Mode is just what you’d expect – a safe way of booting up a PC and running the system with no startup apps and only essential drivers, which should hopefully allow the computer to boot successfully when it won’t otherwise due to some issue or other.
With Windows 10, to access Safe Mode, hold down the Shift key during boot-up (or select Restart from the desktop while holding down Shift).
16. Making sure Windows 10 knows where you are
Location-based apps are fairly prominent in Windows 10 which makes it a good idea to let your PC know (roughly) where you are. Cortana, for example, can give far more information if it can accurately pinpoint where in the world it’s being used.
To update your computer’s location settings, head to the Start menu, click Settings, Time & Language, and click Region & Language – then make sure the correct country is selected. To turn on Location services, go to Settings > Privacy > Location, and flick the Location switch on.
17. Speeding up your PC
There are loads of ways to speed up a PC and Windows 10 comes with several options to do so with ease.
One of the easiest ways to breathe a little more life into your machine is managing your startup programs. Having fewer programs boot during startup can rejuvenate your PC. To streamline your boot-up press the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keys together, click ‘more details’, then navigate over to the Startup tab. From there, you can pick and choose which services or apps are allowed to load (right click and select Disable to, well, disable any you don’t want) – we here at TechRadar like having as few programs as possible running at startup.
Deleting unused programs or files can also speed up a PC.
18. Removing the annoying lock screen
The lock screen on Windows 10 can be annoying, especially on a computer that doesn’t have a touchscreen to easily ‘swipe’ it away. Windows Hello makes things somewhat easier, but only if you have a compatible computer with the necessary hardware to run the authentication system.
Luckily, Microsoft has provided a solution to the problem of the lock screen, albeit a complicated one that shouldn’t be tried if you’re not confident in tinkering with the Registry. Note that a misstep here can cause serious problems, so if you’re a computing novice, it’s probably best to steer clear of this one.
Okay, warning aside, to do this you need to first head to the search/Cortana box (next to the Start menu) and type in a search for:
This will run the Registry Editor. From here, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows, select the Personalisation key and select New before choosing DWORD (32-bit) Value.
Select New Value #1 in the right-hand pane, and use F2 to rename it to the following:
Now double click it, and change the value data to 1 and click OK.
It’s a slightly complex process, but after a reboot you should be able to automatically bypass the lock screen.
19. Making DVDs work again
For some reason Windows 10 doesn’t come with DVD playing software out of the box. Microsoft does sell an app as a download from the Windows Store – imaginatively called ‘Windows DVD Player – but it costs £11.59 (around $15, AU$20).
The best bet for those who want to watch DVDs is VLC Media Player, which is a free download and was recently updated to support Windows 10. It also supports a host of other file formats – even the weird ones – making it a very useful tool to have around (or check out our 5 best VLC alternatives if you fancy something a bit different).
20. Banish annoying notifications
Microsoft introduced a nifty way to view all of your notifications at once in the Action Center, which is one of Windows 10’s best features compared to Windows 7 or 8.1.
However, it does tend to get clogged up with notifications, including ones that are seemingly useless (we’re looking at you, Windows tips). Luckily, turning these off is easy.
Go to Settings > System > Notifications & Actions, and then simply toggle off any that are not useful or relevant while keeping the ones that are. Individual third-party app notifications can also be switched off.
21. Beefing up system security
These days, so much of our lives involves our computers, so it’s extremely important that they’re nice and secure. Windows 10 comes with a breadth of security features that you might want to look at.
One such feature to be aware of is Windows Defender, which is designed to detect and remove malware from PCs – you’ll find it under Settings > Update & Security. Make sure you’ve got this turned on, if you don’t have another third-party antivirus solution running on your machine.
Another important security feature is Windows Hello, which allows for biometric authentication on your machine (we’ll show you how to set this up in the next slide). And then there’s Window’s Passport – which will secure all your credentials in one place (read up more about that here).
You’ll never be able to eliminate all threats, but with Windows 10, Microsoft has taken a long hard look at the areas where Windows 10 was more vulnerable and has patchings up nicely. So, with a bit of software defense and awareness while browsing the internet, you should be nice and safe.
22. Setting up Windows Hello
Windows Hello is one of the most innovative features that Microsoft has built into Windows 10. Essentially, it lets a user login just by using facial recognition (or a fingerprint) virtually instantly.
The software, which is available to all Windows 10 users, does require special hardware (and most likely won’t work on older computers). Assuming you have the necessary hardware, how do you set up Windows Hello?
You need to go to the Start menu, click on Account, and select Change Account Settings. Select Sign-in Options and set a PIN. Once you’ve done this, there will be an option to Setup under Face. Select this and follow the instructions.
23. Stopping Windows 10 from using loads of data
If you’re on a tablet that has 4G, using a mobile hotspot, or surfing the web via a Windows 10 smartphone, then the operating system may have a nasty surprise for you.
Users have been reporting that the default configuration of Windows 10 sucks up data like there’s no tomorrow, potentially putting you over your data allowance, and leaving you with a hefty bill.
Fortunately, there’s an option that addresses the problem. Simply to go Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi. Click Advanced Options and then Set as metered connection. This means that Windows 10 will stop collecting so much data in the background.
24. Getting Cortana to respond to one voice
Worried someone else might use Cortana on your device? Well, one cool thing that Cortana can do is ‘learn’ a certain person’s voice, making it far more secure than Siri or Google Now, which generally just accept simple commands irrespective of who they come from.
To do this, open Cortana, select the Notebook from the left-hand menu, select Settings, and make sure that ‘Respond to’ is set ‘To me’.
It’ll run you through a few test phrases to get the basics of your voice and tone correct before effectively logging what you say and learning – eventually – to just respond to you.
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