Windows 10 problems and how to fix them

Windows 10 finally overtook its predecessor in terms of market share, breaking the 40% barrier, it’s officially the world’s most popular operating system (OS) and as Windows 7 goes end of life next year, numbers will only continue to rise. Windows 10 is known for rolling out regular updates to its users and is the most stable Windows OS to date but that doesn’t mean users aren’t having issues with it. From stuck updates disrupting workflow to significantly less storage space, there are many bugs with some simple fixes for them too.

Microsoft is currently working on a feature which would allow a user to postpone a Windows update for 35 days – enough time to make sure the update itself wasn’t faulty and would weaken your system, but there’s still more work that must be done to polish up the system. Transitioning to Windows 10 from a previous version can also be the cause of problems. Those stuck in their Windows 7 ways will have a tough time adapting to the new features, some of which won’t be intuitive to a new user.

Also, the issues you’re facing are being experienced by users across the world and there are some simple fixes to Windows 10 problems that are detailed below.

1 – Can’t upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8

Some of the most common problems with Windows 10 are those that happen when first installing the upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8.

These include seeing messages that the Get Windows 10 (or GWX) app saying that machines deemed by Microsoft as perfectly viable to receive the update 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:

  • 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)
  • 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 improved.
  • 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.

2 – Can’t upgrade to the latest Windows 10 version

Windows 10 receives pretty big updates every so often, such as the Creators update in March 2017, Fall creators Update in October 2017, and the April 18 and October 2018 update last year. Each of these major updates introduces new features to Windows 10, as well as security bug fixes and a whole lot more.

Despite Windows 10 being the most stable release yet, one of the most common problems experienced by the platform users is updating to the latest version of Windows 10 when it’s released.

However, any updates like this won’t show up as available to everyone and this means you’ll have to resort to manually updating your operating system instead.

Before you start upgrading, you’ll need to check which Windows 10 version you’re already running. You can do this by heading to the “About Windows” screen.

If you’re ready to install the latest version of Windows 10, you can use the Windows Update Tool (instructions below), although the Media Creation Tool alternative is the more reliable option. You simply need to download it, install it and use it to manually upgrade your PC to the latest version.

Just a little side note. When you run Media Creation Tool, you may not see any reference to upgrading to the late version of Windows 10 when using the software, or which version it will upgrade your system to. Instead, it refers to whether it’s the Home or Business version you’re trying to install and as long as this is the version you’re running, you can hopefully be rest assured the newest build will be installed.

Also, make sure you’ve opted to keep the personal files and apps and click Install to keep your data, apps and the majority of your settings untouched. Now, when you hit install, it should start installing the most up-to-date version of the operating system.

 

3 – Have a lot less free storage than before

You might not know, but after installing Windows 10 the old version of the OS is hanging around in the background taking up useful space. Surprised? When you upgraded, your old version of Windows doesn’t disappear. It’s still in the back of the system and goes by the name “windows.old” and takes up valuable disk space.

You may be asking as to why this happened and the answer is that Microsoft isn’t quite as controlling as some other big tech companies. Instead of forcing users to update their hardware and never look back, Microsoft keeps a hold of the important files that made up your previous OS in the C:/ drive. This is in case you don’t like the new Windows 10 and decide to change back to the previous operating system that you might be more used to.

If you like the new OS and want to delete the old one for good, then click on the Windows Start button and type “cleanup” to automatically search the system. A “Disk Cleanup” app should appear before you in the search criteria field. Click on it to open the application.

A drive selection box should appear. Simply select the drive your OS is installed on. The default drive should appear first which is usually the C:/ drive. If you’re confident that this is the main drive where your OS is installed, hit OK. Windows should scan your system for a while and 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. “Clean up system files” option on the bottom left.

Windows will do some more calculations and give you another a 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 our case, almost 5GB. Tick this option and click OK. In the separate message box that appears asking if you’re certain you want to send this, click Delete Files, and you’re done.

4 – Windows Update isn’t working

Many people 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.

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). 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.

5 – Turn off forced updates

If you’re anything like us, you set up previous Windows releases. So that they wouldn’t install updates automatically – one forced reboot is one too many. To be fair to Microsoft, Windows 10 handles post-update reboots. Much more elegantly, but we’d 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.

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.

6 – Turn off unnecessary notifications

Windows 10’s Action Center is an excellent way to view all your computer’s important messages. Collating pop-ups and notifications from your email. Social media apps like Facebook, updates from software like Adobe’s Creative Suite and even system messages from Windows itself.

Unfortunately, it can quickly become cluttered with notifications. That you’re not really interested in, and having to dismiss repeated messages. From over-eager apps can be an annoying hassle.

Thankfully, there’s an easy way to ensure that the Action Center only shows you relevant information. Open the settings menu, then navigate to System | Notifications & Actions. You’ll find a series of toggles governing how notifications are displayed. Including the ability to turn off Windows tips. Disable notifications from showing up on the lock screen or while presenting. Even the option to turn off notifications altogether.

You can also disable notifications on a per-app basis. So if Java keeps bugging you to install an update. Candy Crush Saga won’t stop nagging you to play another few levels. You can turn off notifications for those apps while leaving the software. You actually care about to keep on giving you notifications.

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