Windows offers a variety of tools for troubleshooting and repairing problems. Whether your computer suffers from failed updates, awful appearances, sound problems, or driver errors, there’s a tool out there for you.
This article covers a range of weapons in the arsenal for combating common Windows problems. Some of the tools you must install from third parties. A large number come included with the Windows 10 (and older) operating system.
Windows Update Fails or Hangs
One of the most pernicious problems afflicting Windows users: Windows Update failure. Whenever a system update stalls out or fails entirely, you’ve got a serious issue. You can approach this problem in several different ways, but five essential tools stand out: Microsoft’s official tool for Windows Update, the Windows Update troubleshooter, Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM), FixWin, and an in-place upgrade.
1. Windows Update FixIt Tool
The Windows Update Diagnostic Tool offers the quickest way to troubleshoot Windows Update problems. Simply download the tool and run it. It should automatically begin diagnosing and repairing issues it finds.
Use the option Try troubleshooting as an administrator in case the first analysis doesn’t detect any problems.
2. Windows Update Troubleshooter
The Windows Update troubleshooter can automatically repair update issues. First, press the keyboard shortcut Windows key + Q to open the Windows search. Second, type troubleshoot into the search bar and choose the Troubleshooting Control Panel entry. Finally, in the Troubleshooting window under System and Security, click the entry Fix problems with Windows Update.
3. Deployment Image Servicing and Management
Microsoft’s default tool for repairing system files is a command line executable called DISM. DISM requires using the Windows command prompt. I have previously shown you how to use DISM in my article on how to fix a corrupted Windows 10 installation.
Here’s a video covering the complete instructions:
FixWin repairs a lot of random problems with Windows, including app store malfunction and Windows Update issues. It’s among the most versatile tools for fixing Windows problems. FixWin can turn Windows features on or off, from a simple user interface. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of running utilities from the command line, FixWin is the tool for you.
5. In-Place Upgrade
The in-place upgrade offers a powerful tool for fixing Window’s most insidious problems. Instead of running diagnostics, an in-place upgrade replaces the operating system with a fresh installation — all without requiring the user to reinstall any programs. It can repair corruption issues, along with Windows Update problems.
The in-place upgrade requires Windows 10 installation files, which you can obtain using the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool, also mentioned below. The process isn’t very complex and doesn’t even require installation. To get started, consider backing up Windows, in the event of something catastrophic occurring. Second, download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. Third, run the program. After running the software, you’ll need to click through a few menus. Eventually, select the option Upgrade this PC now and then click Next.
Here’s a video on the process:
Change How Windows Looks and Behaves
Many tools can reshape the way Windows looks and behaves. Two of the best are Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4, and ShutUp10. Probably the most useful feature: They can eliminate Microsoft OneDrive.
Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4 is an advanced interface editing tool. It gives you quick access to the context menu, Taskbar customization, and other core features of the Windows graphical interface.
Here’s a video demonstrating how it works:
Rather than changing Windows 10’s appearance, ShutUp10 reduces the amount of annoying pop-ups and distractions that Microsoft slipped into Windows. The app also stitches up some of the most severe wounds afflicting Windows 10 users, including gaping privacy issues. For those looking to improve the Windows 10 experience without doing a lot of tinkering and research, ShutUp10 offers a straightforward and direct solution. Like FixWin, ShutUp10 employs a number of switches to turn features on or off.
Audio and Sound Problems
We’ve covered about a billion different ways to repair audio problems in Windows. The methods range from using the integrated Windows Audio Troubleshooter to running diagnostics from the command line. Out of the tools available, though, the Troubleshooter is always a good first step.
8. Windows 10 Audio Troubleshooter
Windows 10’s baked-in audio troubleshooter is the first tool everyone should try before proceeding to more advanced methods. Using it won’t require much effort. You can access it the same way we accessed the Windows Update troubleshooter described above (#2). Briefly, press Windows key + Q, type troubleshoot and select the Control Panel result, then, under Hardware and Sound, click Troubleshoot audio playback.
Here’s a video of how it works:
My Printer Isn’t Working
Printers often don’t work. In recognition of this, Microsoft added a slew of troubleshooters for all of the major Windows subsystems.
9. Windows Printer Troubleshooter
Like previous troubleshooters mentioned in this article, it can be found in the Control Panel. This time, however, you’ll have to dig a little deeper.
First, press the keyboard shortcut Windows key + Q. Second, type troubleshoot into the search bar and choose the Troubleshooting Control Panel. In the Troubleshooting menu, choose View all from the left panel.
From the following menu, select Printer.
The troubleshooter itself requires almost no effort on the part of the user. Click Next to activate it. The rest of the process is automated.
The Internet Is Not Working
A million different failures cause Internet problems. After determining the adequacy of your wireless connection, you might want to try a few software toolkits or the baked-in Windows Network Adapter Troubleshooter.
10. Complete Internet Repair [No Longer Available]
RizoneSoft’s Complete Internet Repair isn’t a diagnosis software; it’s a shortcut to a variety of tools for fixing Windows Internet problems. If you can’t get your Internet working using the default Windows Network Troubleshooter, you might want to give Complete Internet Repair a look.
11. Windows Network Adapter Troubleshooter
The Troubleshooter comes pre-installed on the Windows operating system (as far as I can tell, it first became useful in Windows 7). It automatically performs several tasks, such as resetting the network adapter, and checking the stability of the Internet connection. Use it as the first line of defense against spotty Internet connections. Accessing the Troubleshooter is easy.
To launch the automated troubleshooter, find the Internet status icon in the lower right of the Taskbar. The icon either appears as a Wi-Fi symbol, as shown below, or as a monitor with a LAN cable to its left, depending on how you connect to the Internet. Right-click the icon and choose Troubleshoot problems. The process only requires clicking through a few menus.
The optimal method for resolving driver problems: locate the driver and install it. Sometimes, though, finding the right driver can be next to impossible. In that case, you might need help.
12. Driver Booster 3
IOBit’s Driver Booster 3 automatically downloads and updates drivers. Driver Booster 3 (which is the free version of Driver Booster) offers an “automagic” solution.
I do not advise using Driver Booster as the first line of defense against driver problems — it’s best used when you’ve exhausted all other options and simply can’t find the correct drivers for your device. And, even then, you would need to perform a full Windows backup before using it. Because an incompatible driver can render your system unbootable, not only should you take safeguards, you should also look towards other solutions for fixing irritating Windows problems. Another place to look: Installing unsigned drivers in Windows.
For those committed to using a third party tool, here’s a review of Driver Booster 3:
Reinstall Windows or Upgrade In-Place
Sometimes, no matter what troubleshooting steps or tools you use, Windows just won’t work. Fortunately, Microsoft released the Windows Media Creation Tool (our guide to the Windows Media Creation tool).
The tool allows users to download and install a fresh image of Windows 10. The image must match your current version of the operating system. In other words, if you have the Window 10 Home edition installed, you must download a Windows 10 Home edition. The tool also lets you do an “in-place upgrade,” which will allow you to retain your settings, software, and personal data. It’s pretty easy to perform an in-place upgrade using the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition.
What’s the Best Tool?
In my experience, the troubleshooters work about half the time, but they take seconds to complete — without much user effort. That’s why they’re best used as the first line of defense against issues. Anything that you install from a third party source may, or may not, improve the situation. Start with the easiest to use tools and work your way up from there. A final recourse is to reinstall your operating system — but even then, you should always use the in-place upgrade before trying other options.
Do you have a favorite tool for fixing problems with Windows? Please let us know in the comments!