Windows 10 is the most widely used operating system today, powering over 1 billion devices worldwide. Like any software, Windows 10 can sometimes encounter issues and errors that may require repairing or troubleshooting. The good news is, there are several ways you can attempt to repair Windows 10 on your own before taking more drastic measures like reinstalling the operating system.
Quick Overview of Repairing Windows 10
Here is a quick overview of the main methods for repairing common Windows 10 problems:
- Use the built-in Windows 10 troubleshooters – Windows includes automated troubleshooters that can diagnose and fix many common problems like internet connectivity issues, audio problems, printer issues, etc.
- Restart your computer – Restarting your PC can often resolve simple issues and glitches. Make sure to save your work first.
- Update drivers – Outdated, broken or missing drivers can cause Windows 10 problems. Update drivers through Device Manager.
- Update Windows – Install the latest Windows updates, service packs and patches. Updates frequently include bug and security fixes.
- Use System Restore – System Restore lets you restore Windows to an earlier working state.
- Reset Windows – Resetting Windows reinstalls the operating system while preserving your personal files and settings.
- Clean install – A clean install (or reinstall) erases everything and installs a fresh copy of Windows.
The rest of this article will dive into more detail on each method to repair Windows 10 issues, from basic software troubleshooting to completely reinstalling the operating system.
Use Windows Troubleshooters
One of the easiest first steps to try and repair common Windows 10 problems is to use the built-in troubleshooting tools. Windows 10 includes automated troubleshooters that can detect issues and attempt to fix them automatically.
Here are some of the troubleshooters included in Windows 10:
- Internet Connectivity – Fixes issues with connecting to the internet or accessing web pages.
- Audio – Troubleshoots sound problems like no audio output.
- Printers – Resolves issues with printers not working properly.
- Bluetooth – Helps fix Bluetooth pairing problems.
- Hardware and Devices – Detects and fixes issues with connected devices.
- Windows Update – Diagnoses problems with installing updates.
To run a troubleshooter in Windows 10:
- Open the Start menu and go to Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot.
- Select the desired troubleshooter and click Run.
- The troubleshooter will analyze your system and attempt to identify and resolve the issue.
- Follow any additional prompts from the troubleshooter to complete the repair process.
The Windows troubleshooting tools work automatically in the background to diagnose the problem. If a solution is found, the troubleshooter will resolve the issue without any additional action needed. This makes them a convenient “one click” first option to repair common problems.
Restart Your PC
One of the most basic troubleshooting steps for any Windows issue is to simply restart your computer. Restarting will clear out any temporary files, release memory used by open programs, and flush out any software issues.
Here are some examples of problems that may be fixed by a simple restart:
- Apps or programs are frozen or not responding
- Computer is running slower than usual
- Error message popups keep appearing
- Keyboard, mouse or peripherals are not responding
- Internet connection issues
Before restarting Windows 10:
- Save your work in any open documents, programs or apps first to avoid data loss.
- Close any programs you have open.
- Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete on your keyboard and select “Restart” to restart your PC.
Allow Windows to fully restart and boot up normally. Many minor issues can be resolved with this simple step. If the problem persists after restarting, move on to some of the other troubleshooting methods.
Update Drivers in Windows
Device drivers are software programs that allow Windows to communicate with hardware components like printers, video cards, monitors, audio devices, network adapters and more. Problems with drivers can cause Windows 10 issues and errors.
Symptoms of driver problems include:
- A device not working at all or suddenly stopping working
- Frequent error messages related to a device
- Audio issues like crackling or no sound
- Printers not printing properly
- Display or video problems
- Issues connecting to networks
To update drivers and resolve potential driver-related problems in Windows 10:
- Open the Start menu and search for “Device Manager” and open it.
- Expand sections like “Sound, video and game controllers”, “Network adapters” etc. and look for any devices with yellow exclamation icons indicating a problem.
- Right click the problematic device and select “Update driver”.
- Choose to automatically search for updated driver software online and install it.
Updating drivers from Device Manager is a quick way to fix driver issues. You can also visit your hardware manufacturer’s website to download the latest drivers manually.
Common Driver Problems
Here are some of the most common Windows 10 driver issues and how to fix them:
- Audio: No sound, audio popping/crackling, volume issues. Update audio drivers from Device Manager.
- Graphics: Display issues, screen artifacts, crashed video apps. Update display and graphics drivers.
- WiFi: Can’t connect to networks, frequent disconnections. Update network adapter drivers.
- Printers: Print spooler errors, failed print jobs. Update printer/scanner drivers.
- Bluetooth: Can’t pair devices, spotty Bluetooth connections. Update Bluetooth drivers.
Installing the latest Windows updates is one of the best ways to fix bugs, security flaws and performance issues in Windows 10. Important updates are frequently released by Microsoft.
To update Windows 10:
- Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.
- Click Check for updates. Windows will search for any available updates.
- If updates are found, click Download and install to update Windows.
- Restart your computer after the updates are installed.
Make sure to regularly check Windows Update and install new updates as soon as they become available. This will ensure your system always has the latest bug fixes, security patches and improvements.
You can also manually download and install specific Windows updates if you know a certain update fixes your problem. Visit the Microsoft Update Catalog to search for and download updates.
Windows 10 Update Issues
Some common problems with Windows Updates and how to resolve them:
- Update failures: Error messages while installing updates. Restart and try again. If issue persists, use Windows Update troubleshooter.
- Can’t find updates: Check internet connection. Restart Windows Update service from Services app.
- Updates stuck: Stuck on checking for updates or downloading. Reset Windows Update components using the Windows Update troubleshooter.
- BSOD after updates: Blue Screen of Death crashes after an update. Use System Restore to undo the update.
The Windows Update troubleshooter can automatically diagnose and attempt to fix common update issues.
System Restore in Windows 10
System Restore is a tool in Windows 10 that allows you to restore your computer to an earlier state and configuration as a way of reversing system changes and fixing problems. It works by creating restore points, which are snapshots of your Windows system files and settings at specific points in time.
To use System Restore to fix problems after a Windows update, driver update or application install:
- Go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Recovery.
- Under Advanced startup, click Restart now.
- After restarting to the boot options menu: Select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > System Restore.
- Choose a restore point from before your system had issues. Click Next to confirm and restore.
System Restore rolls back Windows system files, settings and registry keys to undo recent changes and fix problems. It can help resolve issues caused by Windows updates, driver updates or buggy apps.
Other System Restore Uses
In addition to undoing problem updates and installations, System Restore can also be useful to restore Windows 10 if you’re experiencing issues like:
- Random crashes, freezes or BSOD errors
- Corrupted system files or registry errors
- Virus, malware or ransomware attack
- Software failures or boot issues after an app install
System Restore is an easier option to try before considering more complex options like Windows resets or clean installs.
Reset Windows 10
If System Restore does not resolve your Windows 10 problems, the next option to try is a Windows reset. Resetting Windows will reinstall the operating system while preserving your personal files, data and user accounts.
To reset Windows 10:
- Go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Recovery.
- Under Reset this PC, click Get started.
- Choose Keep my files to preserve your data.
- Windows will download files and reset itself, reinstalling Windows.
Resetting can fix problems where Windows system files have become corrupted, damaged or configured incorrectly. Because it reinstalls Windows while preserving your data, it is an intermediate step between System Restore and a full clean install.
When to Reset Windows
Consider resetting Windows 10 if you are experiencing:
- System instability, frequent crashes or Blue Screens (BSOD)
- Performance issues like slow boot times or lag
- Windows failing to start properly or load correctly
- Problems after a major Windows update
- Persistent software issues, freezes or lockups
Resetting Windows reinstalls all system files, registry keys and drivers which can eliminate many lingering Windows issues.
Clean Install Windows 10
The most comprehensive way to troubleshoot Windows 10 problems is to perform a clean install, also known as a clean installation. This involves completely erasing your current Windows installation and starting fresh by installing Windows “clean”.
Here is an overview of how to clean install Windows 10:
- Backup any personal data you want to preserve.
- Boot from a Windows 10 installation USB or DVD.
- Delete all existing partitions and perform a new clean installation.
- Install drivers and applications as needed.
- Restore your files from backup.
A clean install gives you a completely fresh Windows 10 with default system settings. This can permanently resolve problems caused by faulty system files, driver conflicts, malware infections or software corruption.
When to Clean Install
Some common situations where a Windows 10 clean install is recommended include:
- Replacing an old hard drive or SSD
- Troubleshooting an extremely unstable system
- Unable to diagnose specific problems
- Repairing damage caused by malware or viruses
- Removing faulty drivers or software
- Frequent Blue Screens (BSOD errors)
Clean installing Windows 10 takes more time and effort but provides the most complete slate to fix software issues. Back up your data first before wiping your system.
Repairing Windows 10 problems can range from quick troubleshooting steps like updating drivers or using system restore, to more complex options like resetting or clean installing Windows. Use this guide to determine the best repair option for your particular Windows issue:
- Minor issues: Try basic troubleshooting like restarting, running troubleshooters or updating drivers.
- Recent system changes: Use System Restore to undo changes that caused problems.
- Corrupted system files: Reset Windows to reinstall system files while preserving data.
- Unstable system: Clean install Windows for a fresh slate.
Don’t immediately jump to a full clean install when troubleshooting. Start with easier steps like the Windows troubleshooters that can resolve many common issues automatically. Only use more advanced options like System Restore or clean installing if basic troubleshooting does not resolve your Windows 10 problems.