Windows 10: Common Problems Users Have and How to Fix Them

Windows 10 home screen
Greg Mombert/Digital Trends

Since its release in 2015, Windows 10 has served as a popular operating system that improved features from previous versions while offering greater flexibility and customization options. The launch was plagued with a variety of issues, but subsequent updates have improved the product immensely. Although there are several common issues that you may encounter when using Windows 10, it’s nothing that can’t be solved with a bit of know-how. Here are eleven of the biggest problems with Windows 10 and how to fix them.

Problem: Not enough space for updates

Depending on the size of your hard drive and how full it is, hearing about the release of a new update may leave you dreading the next time you boot up your PC. Naturally, few people want to have to choose between important data and applications and a functioning computer, but that’s exactly where you’ll be if you leave it too long.

Workarounds:

  • Head to the Control Panel and review your applications to see if there are any you can do without or haven’t used in a long time.
  • Consider investing in a thumb drive or external hard drive to let you free up space by transferring files.
  • Empty your recycle bin or download a free tool to help manage your hard drive quickly and easily.

Problem: Automatic updates causing errors

Updates to Windows 10 are mandatory, so you can only avoid downloading and installing them for so long. While this should mean you have stable software with the latest security patches and fixes, problems will occur from time to time. With app publishers having to release new versions with each Windows 10 update (not to mention internal issues with old drivers and corrupted code), every major update will usually come with its share of issues.

Workarounds:

  • If you encounter issues after your computer receives an automatic update, you should make use of the System Restore function, reset your computer to a previous point in time and try performing the update manually by going to the Microsoft website.
  • You can prevent Windows 10 from upgrading automatically by using the Windows Settings menu. Search for Automatic Updates in your search bar, then select Check For Updates, which will open the Windows Updates menu. From there, you can select either Pause Updates For 7 Days or Advanced Options to pause automatic updates for up to 35 days.

Problem: Bluetooth isn’t working

Occasionally, Windows 10 users have trouble getting Bluetooth to work properly. This can impact your keyboard, mouse, headphones, speakers, and anything else that connects to your computer via Bluetooth.

Solutions:

  • Go to Settings > Devices and make sure that Bluetooth is toggled on and that you haven’t accidentally hit a function key or manual Bluetooth switch that turned it off.
  • Make sure that your Bluetooth accessory is fully charged and that you are following the pairing process. Sometimes you have to hold down a button to make the device discoverable. Check with the manufacturer for details.
  • There’s a reasonable chance that this is a driver problem. You’ll want to check with the manufacturer that you have the latest driver, especially if you’re jumping straight from Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 to 10.
  • A few people have reported that uninstalling the driver for the device you’re having an issue with, rebooting your machine, and then letting Microsoft automatically detect it and install the driver will do the trick.

Problem: Cortana isn’t working

Window’s 10 Cortana virtual assistant can perform a variety of tasks, but only if she feels like work. Error messages from Cortana include the program not being available in their region or language, despite being in a supported region and using a supported language. In some cases, Cortana is not on by default or not working properly.

Solutions:

  • First of all, hit Start > Cortana > Settings, and you can toggle Cortana on and off.
  • Take a look in Settings > Time & Language. You need to make sure that you’re using one of the supported languages listed on Microsoft’s website.
  • Make sure that your Microphone is plugged in and is recognized by Windows. You can look at your audio settings by doing a Windows search for Sound and opening the Sound menu. You’ll find microphones listed on the Recording tab.
  • Perform an audio diagnostic to determine if there are any driver issues or other problems.
  • Restart Windows and see if it tries to conduct any repairs or updates, which can often solve Cortana bugs. Sometimes you’ll have to be patient and wait for a Microsoft fix to the problem, such as the Cortana bug that popped up in the Windows 10 Anniversary update.

Problem: Can’t open Windows Store or can’t download apps

Following a major update, users often report Windows Store issues after updating Windows 10, though they sometimes occur without warning. It won’t open at all for some people, while others find it impossible to download apps or app updates. There’s a chance that the delayed app downloads and updates are a result of busy servers or updates being rolled out, but there are some things you can try:

Solutions:

  • Press Windows + R to bring up the Run box. If this shortcut command does not work (some Windows bugs may affect its use), search for Run in the search box and open the Run app. Then type “wsreset.exe” in the box and press Enter. This will clear your Store cache and can often help remove any corrupted data. When finished, reboot your computer and see if you can open the Store. If that doesn’t work, then delete your download queue and try it again. Some people report that it worked for them after a few tries.
  • If you can’t access the Windows Store, it might be because you have the wrong region or time zone set. Go to Settings > Time & Language and ensure the settings are correct.
  • Check online and see if there are any reported server outages or issues with particular apps.

Problem: Wi-Fi unstable, slow, or won’t connect

Issues with Wi-Fi are some of the most frustrating problems that Windows 10 users can encounter. Whether it’s slow speeds, an intermittent connection, or not having your Wi-Fi work at all, knowing the basic steps to restore your internet can be crucial.

Solutions:

  • Start by turning your router and your computer off and on again. It might be a well-worn joke, but it often works.
  • If you can’t get Wi-Fi to work at all, then you might have a driver problem — the simplest solution is to run diagnostics and have your PC search for a new driver. If that doesn’t work, contact your network adapter manufacturer and make sure that you have the latest driver. You might have to download it on another computer and install it via USB flash drive.
  • Ensure that your router also has the latest firmware, which you’ll find on the manufacturer’s website.
  • Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi. Make sure that the Connect Automatically box is checked for the network you want to connect to.
  • Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > Manage Wi-Fi Settings > Manage Known networks and choose your network, then click Forget. Reboot the machine and enter the network details to connect fresh.

Problem: Printer won’t connect

Given that printers are generally one of the least replaced electronic devices in the average home or office, there’s a good chance that your elderly printer may not communicate well with Windows 10. Fortunately, Microsoft has provided a solution to help your printer connect and stay connected.

Workarounds:

  • Open Settings > Devices > Printers & Scanners. Select Add A Printer Or Scanner, though it will likely not be found. Click The Printer That I Want Isn’t Listed, then choose My Printer Is A Little Older, Help Me Find It. This will open a list to choose your printer from. Select Next, name your printer, then click Next until a screen opens saying Print A Test Page. Once the test page prints, your printer has successfully connected.

Problem: Spammed by notifications

There are few things as frustrating as being constant interruptions from notifications while in the middle of a gaming session, videoconference, or other attention-heavy activity. Thankfully, this issue is quick and easy to resolve, so you can remain unbothered during important work or leisure time.

Workarounds:

  • From the Start Menu, select Settings > System > Notifications. You can customize the notification settings for your entire PC and determine which notifications are visible and which are not.

Problem: Files are opening in different apps

When you update Windows 10, all your apps and files go back to their default settings or, in some cases, switch default preferences altogether. Some people have found that files that once opened in familiar apps are now opening in the wrong app or in an app they’ve never opened in before.

Potential solutions:

  • Switch your app settings back. If you are new to Windows 10 or had a recent update, it probably switched your customary settings to something new. For individual files, locate the file and right-click it to reveal your options. Select Open With and select Choose Another App. Find the app you prefer and select it. An option will appear asking you to confirm that you Always Use This App when opening similar files.
  • Select the Start button, then Apps > Default Apps. From the Default Apps menu, select Choose Default Apps By File Type. Locate the file extension in question and then select a default app to open these files. Should you not have a preference in mind, select Choose A Default instead. Once you exit the menu, the files should be opened by the correct app in the future.

Problem: Startup times are slow

If your Windows 10 startup time has suddenly increased, this usually means that your startup settings are suboptimal. If those login wait times are growing ridiculous, it’s time to do something about it.

Solutions:

  • Reduce your start-up apps. Windows 10 starts a certain number of apps every time you log in. One of the most direct ways to reduce login time is to cut down on those apps. Open your Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete and choosing Task Manager. Open the link that says More Details, then select Start-up. This menu controls your start-up settings, including all the apps that boot up. Look through enabled apps and disable any that you don’t absolutely need.
  • Use a free program like CCleaner to remove trackers and clear out temporary files and other bloatware cluttering up your OC.

Problem: The Search Bar or Start Menu disappears

While the Windows 10 Taskbar’s customization features are advantageous, certain functions can cause unwary users a great deal of annoyance. For example, you might be hard at work on an important file and absentmindedly down scroll to your Taskbar, only to see that the Start Menu or Search bar has seemingly vanished. If your Taskbar has not been locked, a simple mistake can remove vital functions from being easily accessible and create unneeded stress and anxiety. Fortunately, this issue is straightforward to resolve.

Workaround:

  • Press Windows Key + I to open the Settings menu and select Personalization > Taskbar. Ensure that Automatically Hide The Taskbar In Desktop Mode is turned off and turn on Lock The Taskbar. Other solutions include restarting your computer, updating your drivers, and restarting Windows Explorer.

Problem: An update caused the Blue Screen of Death

This is not uncommon. Sometimes the updates pushed to Windows 10 can be a little buggy. When this happens, the update installation will freeze without completing, or will complete and then crash your computer to the Blue Screen of Death. This may be more common on Surface devices than other computers, and has been an acknowledged problem in the April 2021 update (and others).

Solutions:

  • Wait. Bugs like this will be patched. If you have a Surface device, try rebooting it and installing again to see if this fixes problems. If the update is installed and you’re getting Blue Screens, it’s time to roll back the update and stay patient. If a new update comes out, download it right away to address the issue.
  • If the update is failing to complete, check your Chromium Edge browser. If you deleted this new version of Edge, the update may glitch, so reinstall Edge if necessary and then try the update again.

Problem: Teams or Outlook have stopped working

When this happens, instead of loading the app users will get a message that says “We ran into a problem” that repeats when users try again. This problem has been known to affect Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and sometimes OneDrive. It is most recently associated with the “1909” May 2021 update.

Solutions:

  • Check your internet connection, reboot your computer, and try again. This tends to frequently solve the problem. Doing this all the time is annoying, so keep an eye out for the latest Windows 10 updates and download them to see if they will fix your issues.

Problem: The audio is screeching during playback

If you have this problem, you’ll hear squeaking or screeching when you are trying to play audio. It may be especially noticeable if you are using the 5.1 Dolby Digital format or similar formats. This problem has been encountered multiple times throughout 2021 and continues to pop up with the latest Windows updates.

Solutions:

  • Switching your playback to a different app or option if possible. This can often fix the problem.
  • Switch to stereo audio, which doesn’t appear to have this problem
  • If you are listening with headphones, try switching to a different device like your speaker system, or vice versa.
  • Turn on Spatial Sound. Right-click your Windows 10 volume button, and select Spatial Sound, then select any Spatial Sound setting to enable it.

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