Windows 10 won’t start, crashes or runs unstable. In these cases, use the repair functions built into Windows.
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Thorsten Eggeling, Panagiotis Kolokythas
Windows 10 won’t start, crashes or runs unstable. In these cases, use the repair functions built into Windows.
We will show you how to repair Windows 10 step by step
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doesn’t always work as it should. Trouble threatens especially after updates or system upgrades – if these are even possible. Because the automatic Windows update often fails with meaningless error messages. After all, Microsoft ships Windows 10 with some tools and functions that help with the biggest problems. If that is not enough, you will find several tools for repairs in our download area, but also as a supplement for missing Windows functions. The tips in this article apply to Windows 10, but mostly work on Windows 8 and some on Windows 7 as well.
Table of contents:
1. Analyzes and measures before repair
If something is wrong with the PC, Windows is not always to blame. The first consideration should be: What changes were there just before the problem appeared? Distinguish between strange Windows error messages, Windows Explorer crashes or short system hangs. This is mostly due to software. If blue screens occur or Windows freezes completely, it is usually due to the hardware itself or faulty drivers.
Possible causes of software problems are faulty Windows updates, new drivers, newly installed software or malware. The path therefore leads first to the Control Panel and “Programs and Features”. Click on the “Installed on” column header to sort the list by date. Uninstall the most recently installed software or driver pack if they are related to the issue. Next, click View Installed Updates. This list can also be sorted by date and you can uninstall the latest update.
Recent changes: In the Control Panel, find out under “Programs and Features” the last installed software. If this is a potential problem, remove the program.
Unwanted software: An alternative is
IObit Uninstaller Portable
, which uninstalls software more thoroughly and also removes browser toolbars and other unwanted software.
Avast Browser Cleanup
specialize in detecting and eliminating toolbars and browser extensions. Although these do not affect the stability of the system, they can slow down browsers, lead to incorrect search results or display additional advertising.
If errors are not due to software, the causes of an unstable system can also be insufficient cooling of the processor or graphics card or defective memory modules. Cooling can be easily checked by listening for fan noise or by opening the PC and checking that the fans are running smoothly. It is often sufficient to carefully clean the fan and interior with a vacuum cleaner and a brush. If that doesn’t help, replace the affected fan. For example, you can test the memory modules with the
PC-WELT emergency system
. In the boot menu, select “Test main memory (RAM)”. This starts the memory check Memtest86, which takes several hours to complete. You carry out further tests by starting the Linux-based PC-WELT emergency system. Leave it running for a while and use the included web browser to create some system load. You then use the virus scanner of the emergency system for a check for malware that is independent of the installed system. You will find detailed information on the PC-WELT emergency system
. If all tests were without abnormalities, the hardware is ok and you can continue with the Windows repair.
The mostly unwanted browser plug-ins usually do not destabilize the system , but often lead to unexpected web browser behavior.
Before major repair work, you should definitely create a backup, at least of your personal files. Almost all the measures described in this article enable Windows repair without data loss. Nevertheless, under certain circumstances it cannot be ruled out that files are damaged or deleted. For a full backup, you can use Disk Image & clone from the
Lazesoft Recovery Suite
use. Backup tools are also included in the PC-WELT emergency system. The bootable system enables data backup even if Windows no longer starts.
The automatic Windows update ensures that your system is always up-to-date and protected against attacks on known security gaps. However, the update procedure is quite complex and therefore error-prone. Failures can have numerous causes: sometimes the update download is damaged or a virus scanner is blocking access to files. Other times, there simply isn’t enough free space left on the hard drive to perform the update.
If there are problems with an update, shows Windows the KB ID of the update and an error number. An internet search will help you decrypt.
gives you information on the most common error messages
a Microsoft site
. You can see the error number in the settings (call with WinI) under “Update and Security > windows update”. The Event Viewer provides you with more details – including previous errors. Call this via Win+R and
on. Go to Windows Logs > System” and look for events with source “Windows Update Client”. Via “Create customized view…” in the right area of the window under “Action” you can restrict the display of the list to “Error” and the source “WindowsUpdateClient”. Here you can find out which update failed with which error number. Windows Update also saves reports in log files, which cannot be viewed directly. To convert these into a readable format, start a powershell. To do this, go to “File > Open Windows PowerShell > Open Windows PowerShell as Administrator”. Then type in the following command and confirm with the Enter key:
The command creates the “WindowsUpdate.log” file on the desktop, which you open with a double-click in the editor. In the next step, look at the end of the file for lines that contain “Error” or “Failure”.
With the collected information, you can feed a search engine and learn more about the error. Typically, you’re looking for a KBID for the update, such as KB3097617, and an error number, such as 0x80004005. The problem with this is that the error “0x80004005” from our example is a non-specific error and there is obviously no clear cause. So you only learn that something has prevented the installation of the update files.
The Get-WindowsUp dateLog command in powershell produces logs that are readable in an editor, usually with somewhat more detailed error messages.
The automatic Windows update includes updates for the operating system, new signatures for Windows Defender and other Microsoft products such as
. Apps for Windows 10, such as mail and calendar, Windows maps or Microsoft photos, on the other hand, are updated via the store. Now open the Store app, click on your profile picture and then on “Settings”. Here “Update apps automatically” should be activated. Go to “Download and Updates” in the menu. When available, here is a list of updates that you can download from an app using the button on the right. If an update failed, a corresponding message appears in the list. Windows also notes update errors in the Windows log, which you can view via the event viewer.
Update problems can often be resolved by updating manually. Download the desired update package directly via
down. The Microsoft update catalog can only be used in Internet Explorer, but not in the Windows 10 browser
. Search for the KB number and then download the 32-bit or 64-bit update appropriate for your system. Make sure there is enough hard drive space and disable real-time protection of antivirus software. Install the downloaded update file with a double click.
If the manual update does not work either, the Windows Update Agent or its database is probably defective. Try the Windows built-in troubleshooter first. Press the WinX key combination and click on “Control Panel”. Search for Troubleshoot, click Find and fix problems, click Fix problems with Windows Update, click Next, and then click Run the troubleshooter as an administrator. Restart Windows and try if the Windows update works now.
If this attempt fails, use the tool
Reset Windows Update Agent
. Unzip it to any directory, right-click the CMD file and select “Run as administrator”. Confirm with the Y button, now press the 7 button and confirm with the Enter button. Test the update function after a Windows restart. If it still shows errors, try Reset Windows Update Agent again. Carry out the repairs one after the other using menu items 2 to 6. Be sure to try these measures if apps cannot be updated via the store. If that doesn’t help either, only a system reset will help (see point 5).
To determine whether Windows is activated or not, refer to the basic system information system, which you can call up using the key combination Win-Pause.
For menu items 3 to 5, the Reset Windows Update Agent script uses the Dism tool. The latter offers functions for the management of WIM files (Windows Imaging Format). You can also use it to check and repair the installed system. If you don’t want to use the script, you can also start the commands in a command prompt that you call up via Win-X with administrative rights. Run the following three command lines one after the other:
Dism/Online/Cleanup-Image/ScanHealth Dism/Online/Cleanup-Image/CheckHealth Dism/Online/Cleanup-Image/RestoreHealth
3. Windows repair via System Restore
Windows creates a restore point at regular intervals as well as before major updates and some program installations. This allows Windows to be restored to an earlier state in the event of problems. The easiest way to restore is if Windows is still running.
First, type “Recovery” in the search box on the left of the taskbar and click “Recovery” in the search result. Next, click on “Open System Restore”. The most recent restore point is displayed under “Recommended restore”.
Now click on “Find after-affected programs”. System Restore shows you programs and drivers that you installed after the restore point was created. Please note the contents of the list so that you can set up these programs again later. However, this could also include the software that caused the problem. In any case, personal documents are retained during the recovery. Click on “Close” below.
In case of problems, repair Windows 10 to the latest restore point. This will undo the last changes and installations.
Click on “Next”, then on “Finish” and confirm the process with “Yes”. Windows begins the recovery and then restarts. If that solves the problem, you’ve found the problem. Otherwise, repeat the process again, but select the “Choose a different restore point” option in step 1, and then choose an older restore point. In each case, check which software is removed via “Search for affected programs”.
Windows 10 won’t start: Use the Windows installation media, either from the DVD or from a USB stick. If you don’t already have one, use this to create one
Media Creation Tool
for Windows 10.
Boot the computer from the Windows installation medium. Click Next, then click Repair Your Computer Options. Now click Troubleshoot, Advanced Options, and System Restore. Select the target operating system and click Next. You will then see a list of restore points in which you click the top and newest one. Follow the further instructions of the assistant.
You can also launch System Restore from Lazesoft Recovery Suite. Go to the RandomCrash tab and click Microsoft System Restore.
Windows 10 offers two functions that can be used to restore either the original Windows installation files or the factory state. Call up the “Settings” via the Start menu or the key combination Win+I and now go to “Update and Security > Restoration”. Under Reset this PC, click Get started. If you click “Keep my files” afterwards, programs and settings will be deleted. Windows shows you which programs are affected in a list. However, your personal files, such as those under “Documents”, are retained. “Remove everything” is the radical cure and corresponds to a new installation. You then not only have to set up all the programs again, but also restore your own files from a backup copy.
In the “Settings” under “Recovery” restore the original system state – either in its entirety or while retaining its own files.
Windows 10’s reset functions look similar to Windows 8, but work in a completely different way. Windows 8 has a recovery partition with a system image (.wim file). The contents of the image are copied to the hard drive during the reset, replacing the system files with the versions from the image. The result: You have to download and install all Windows updates again. The only way to avoid this in Windows 8 is to create a backup for the refresh function yourself.
Windows 10, on the other hand, restores the files from the running system and you don’t have to reinstall the Windows updates. However, this also has disadvantages: since the Recimg.exe tool is missing, it is not possible to easily create an individual recovery image including the desired programs, as is the case with Windows 8. If you want that, you can go to a free tool like
Aomei Onekey Recovery
to grab. This creates a recovery image with the current system state in its own partition. Shortly after starting the PC, if necessary, call up the recovery function with the F11 key and restore the saved state.
5. Get Windows up and running with an in-place upgrade
When you upgrade, for example from Windows 8 to Windows 10, your personal files and installed programs are retained. This circumstance can be used for a pseudo upgrade, in which you upgrade a Windows 10 with Windows 10 (inplace upgrade). The repair installation only replaces the system files and parts of the registry. Installed programs and user data are retained.
For an in-place upgrade, start the setup from the installation media. The system files will be replaced, personal files will remain.
You need an installation DVD suitable for the installed system or an ISO file from it. Press Win-R, type
and click OK. If “Version” is followed by “10.10.10586 Build 10586”, the Windows 10 Fall Upgrade that is current at the time of publication of this article is installed. If you obtained this via Windows Update, download the associated ISO file using the Media Creation Tool (www.pcwelt.de/2102904). “10.10.10240 Build 10240” is the original version of Windows 10. In this case, you can use the ISO file or DVD that you used to install the system. However, it is better to download the current ISO file here as well and to upgrade using this opportunity.
Open the download folder in Windows Explorer and mount the ISO file in the file system using the “Share” context menu item. Then start “Setup.exe” from the installation DVD or from the drive provided. Click Next and follow the rest of the setup wizard.
Because this procedure replaces the files on the hard drive with the versions from the installation media, launch the Windows update after the repair installation is complete.
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6. Manually restore Windows boot environment
Depending on the type of installation – Uefi or Bios/MBR – you have to proceed differently when repairing the boot environment. In any case, you need a Windows 10 installation medium or an alternative repair system such as the Lazesoft Recovery Suite (see box).
To repair a uefi system, you must first assign the efi partition Assign a drive letter using the Diskpart tool.
In the Windows installation system, now press the key combination Shift-F10. For example, you can use C: or D: followed by Enter to switch drives, and dir to view the contents. Determine via which drive letter the Windows installation that you want to repair can be reached. After that, tap
and confirm with the Enter key. You can display the volumes with list vol. The Efi partition is formatted with the “FAT32” file system and is 99 or 100 MB in size. For example, if this is named “Volume 3”, then mount the Efi partition with the following two commands:
sel vol 3 assign letter=b:
With exit you leave diskpart. Then run the following four command lines on the command line:
cd /d b:\EFI\Microsoft\Boot bootrec /fixboot ren BCD BCD.bak bcdboot c:\Windows /l de-de /s b: /f ALL
Replace drive letter C: with the letter previously determined for your Windows installation. Restart the computer. The Uefi boot environment should then work again.
Bios/MBR repair: In the command prompt, type the following four commands, each followed by the Enter key:
bootrec /fixmbr bootrec /fixboot bootrec /rebuildbcd bootsect /nt60 X: /mbr
In the last command, replace “X;” with the determined drive letter of the Windows installation.
Have you read all the steps, but nothing helps in your case? Then you will probably have to resort to tougher bandages.
With Win10PESE you build your own mini-Windows
armed with antivirus and analysis tools that you can burn to a DVD and use to diagnose your main system.
Windows 10 offers a lot of new functions. However, Microsoft has hidden some of them quite well. For example, Windows 10 now offers a screen recording tool, you can easily download offline maps, and Microsoft has also polished the command prompt. You are going to learn more about that in this video.
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