Is the Microsoft Fix It Service Really Any Good? [MakeUseOf Tests]

Chris Hoffman 10-05-2013

microsoft fix itHave computer problems? Microsoft Fix It service attempts to fix them for you. If you’ve browsed Microsoft’s help pages, you’ve probably seen a variety of “Fix It” programs you can run to quickly fix a problem without walking through a complicated troubleshooting process. We’ve covered the Fix It Center Microsoft Fix It Center Offers Quick Streamlined Troubleshooting Read More in the past, but now we’re really going to put Microsoft Fix It service to the test.


The Microsoft Fix It Center desktop program is no longer available for Windows 7, but Microsoft hosts a web page where you can browse all their Fix it solutions. This page allows you to locate a Fix It that will hopefully solve your problem and run it. You may also find Fix It programs suggested to you when you browse for help elsewhere on Microsoft’s website. For example, there are Fix It scripts for repairing your Internet Explorer settings, fixing Windows security settings, and more. We’ll find out whether Microsoft Fix It scripts are actually any good for fixing computer problems or whether you shouldn’t bother with them at all.

These Fix Its work on Windows 7 The Windows 7: Ultimate Guide If you are afraid to upgrade from Vista or XP because you feel it is completely different to what you are used to, you should read this new guide. Read More , Windows Vista, and even Windows XP.

Help, My USB Drive Doesn’t Work!

To put our first Fix It to the test fixing a USB drive that failed to work, we:

  • Inserted a USB drive and used the DISKPART tool to delete all partitions on it, making it unusable until it’s partitioned again.
  • Disabled the USB drive device in the Device Manager.

After this, we ran the “Diagnose and fix Windows USB problems automatically” Fix It with the USB drive 7 Uses for a USB Stick You Didn't Know About You've used USB sticks to transport files between computers and back up files, but there is much more you can do with a USB stick. Read More inserted. This Fix It did not find the problem, only recommending that we use Windows Update to install USB drivers.

microsoft fix it


To be fair, Windows Explorer itself prompts us to repartition the USB drive — so the only real problem is that the USB drive itself is disabled in the device manager.

We gave the Fix It service another chance to fix the problem by running the “Hardware devices are not working or are not detected in Windows” Fix It. This Fix It did find the problem.

microsoft fix it center

Together, the two Fix Its found the problem, but they’re a bit too fine-grained. How is a user supposed to know whether the USB device isn’t functioning because of a USB problem or if it isn’t functioning because of a hardware device problem? You almost need to know what the problem is to choose the right Fix It — and if you knew that, you wouldn’t need the Fix It service. One Fix It that ran through all the related problems would work better.


Fixing Internet Explorer Problems

The Fix It service can’t check for problems with other browsers, but it can with Internet Explorer. It can theoretically set Internet Explorer’s settings to recommended ones.

To test this, we:

  • Disabled the pop-up blocker.
  • Disabled protected mode.
  • Set the cache to it lowest possible value.
  • Set an invalid proxy server, preventing IE from connecting to the network.

The Fix It service didn’t even make it past the invalid proxy server 2 Effective Ways to Access Region-Blocked Videos Without a VPN Internet users outside of the United States are blocked from accessing the wealth of streaming video and music content available to Americans. Even Americans are deprived of international services like BBC iPlayer. Faced with this,... Read More , failing to connect to the network and providing no help on solving the problem. However, to Internet Explorer’s credit, it noticed the invalid proxy server itself and suggested we disable it.

microsoft fix it center


The Fix It service noticed all other problems and offered to fix them. However, don’t rely on the Fix It center to fix network problems, even if it’s downloaded directly to your computer ahead of time.

microsoft fix it center

Internet Connection Problems

We were going to test the Fix It service’s ability to help you solve Internet connection problems, but we skipped this part — based on our test above, it wouldn’t even be able to contact the Internet and download the appropriate data. The Fix It service doesn’t even attempt to help you repair Internet connection problems Network Problems? 7 Diagnostic Tricks and Simple Fixes Network problems must be diagnosed before they can be resolved. This article covers seven simple tricks for fixing your network. Read More if it can’t connect to the Internet. It gets a failing grade here, which is too bad as this would be a great use for Fix It tools.

microsoft fix it center online


Securing Windows

Microsoft offers a Fix It tool that promises to help make Windows more secure. To test this, we:

The Windows Action Center started to complain about many of these changes, alerting us to them. We went ahead and ran the “Automatically fix Windows security settings to keep your PC safe” Fix It tool.

The Fix It tool prompted us to re-enable UAC Stop Annoying UAC Prompts - How To Create A User Account Control Whitelist [Windows] Ever since Vista, we Windows users have been pestered, bugged, annoyed, and tired of the User Account Control (UAC) prompt telling us a program is starting up that we intentionally launched. Sure, it has improved,... Read More and automatic updates Why Do Apps Nag Me to Update & Should I Listen? [Windows] Software update notifications seem like a constant companion on every computer. Every app wants to update regularly, and they nag us with notifications until we give in and update. These notifications can be inconvenient, especially... Read More . It also noticed that our antivirus was “not up-to-date” — not an ideal message, but at least an indication that something is wrong.

It didn’t notice any problems with the Windows Firewall at all, even though it was disabled. This is disappointing — there appears to be another Fix It that handles problems with the Windows Firewall, but we should be able to run the security Fix It and fix all security problems. This is the same issue as the USB and Hardware Fix Its above. They should be logically grouped together, but are separated to the detriment of users.

microsoft fix it

The Verdict

The Microsoft Fix It service isn’t perfect. In addition to not offering enough Fix it scripts, it isn’t robust enough to deal with network problems. It solved many of the problems we caused, however. To its credit, where the Fix It service failed — with an partitioned USB drive or an invalid proxy server — other parts of Windows noticed the problem and alerted us to it. However, you may have to run several related Fix It tools to identify and fix your problem.

The next time you have a problem, should you run a Fix It script you see on a Microsoft support site or even head to the Fix It center and look for one to help you? It certainly can’t hurt. Fix It does help. Unfortunately, it’s rather limited in what it can do.

Whatever your problem, you’re likely better off using the troubleshooter utilities included in Windows 7 and Windows 8 The Windows 8 Guide This Windows 8 guide outlines everything new about Windows 8, from the tablet-like start screen to the new "app" concept to the familiar desktop mode. Read More , which can handle network connection issues and other more difficult problems.

To be honest, the Fix It utilities feel like a beta test for the troubleshooting tools found in Windows 7. This is a shame, as Windows Vista and Windows XP users would benefit from having more robust Fix It tools available. They’re also still advertised on Microsoft support sites, including to Windows 7 users.

Go ahead and run a Fix It tool if Microsoft suggests one — it can’t hurt and can only help. Unfortunately, given their limitations and the low number of tools available, you’re probably better off looking for help elsewhere than fixing your problems with the Microsoft Fix It service.

Have you had any luck with the Fix It service in the past, or has it been unable to solve your problems? Leave a comment and share your experiences!

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Microsoft.

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  1. Rosita
    June 23, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Microsoft Fix It has fixed the issues I've used it for. I've never had any issues. It hasn't failed for me so far. I'm considering using it to fix a broken icon for Malwarebytes. I have been a bit hesitant because this is a different kind of issue. But I have the feeling Microsft Fix It is the correct solution. I trust it more than ending processes in Task Manager.

  2. Dee Valley
    April 25, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Being an average user and always afraid that I'll mess it up again, I needed some answers. I've read all replies and have decided not to down load this program. It seems easier for a senior to understand. Thank all of you for educating me.

  3. Daryl
    April 3, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Same experience as others here. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't so I just have it as one of several tools I try when working on computer issues. In those cases where it does it work, though, it's often the only thing that's worked.

  4. Sri Vastav Reddy
    June 4, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    i tried 3 fixes and 2 out of 3 it's a complete success.
    well it do fix common things...
    but have a problem in fixing registry settings (regedit.exe) !!

  5. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    May 13, 2013 at 9:35 am

    I had a problem with my CD drive. I could conduct some tests and went online to fix it myself like I always do, but I was intrigued by FixIt. It got the job done that time. Problem is, it's useful only if you know your way around the computer (more or less). It helps in determining the source of problem so you can take over and finish the troubleshooting by yourself. It's definitely not so user-friendly for average users.

  6. David Moreira
    May 11, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    I used these before to fix some sound errors that a game (Saw - The videogame) was giving me and they have worked fine. :P

  7. bben46
    May 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I have had mixed results - sometimes it can find a problem and sometimes it can't. Then sometimes it can fix the problem and sometimes not. That said - it is a simple tool, runs quickly and can take care of quite a few problems without a lot of troubleshooting. But like any troubleshooting tool, not perfect - but very useful.

    My last use, several weeks ago, it found and fixed a CD problem in my niece's XP laptop that had been damaged by a virus - after the virus had been removed (using a USB copy of the Kapersky rescue disk) the CD still didn't work in Windows. I ran the Fixit problem detector and it found it, Then clicked on Fixit and it replaced the files that he virus had corrupted to keep you from using the CD - The virus was a fake antivirus that blocks access to your installed AV & firewall and even blocks internet access to many AV sites as well as the CD.

    • Chris Hoffman
      May 16, 2013 at 6:09 pm

      FixIt is definitely a mixed bag. It's frustrating because it just feels useful, but nowhere near useful enough.

  8. dspang
    May 11, 2013 at 3:33 am

    I've found it useful for mainly specific errors with things. Such as application specific errors that maybe caused by an incompatibility with something in Windows. I've found it useful for patching .NET issues also that occur.

  9. Eric Jay P
    May 11, 2013 at 2:07 am

    sometimes it solves and at times it cannot.

  10. BAM
    May 11, 2013 at 1:53 am

    While it hasn't actually fixed that much for me in the past, it's still handy to keep in the toolbox.

    Good idea to grab the portable version though, as you can download all the fixes and run them without the need for an internet connection.

  11. Jim LaFronz
    May 10, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    I found it helpful in diagnosing and fixing a problem I was having with the Windows Media Player in Win7. It spotted some corrupted wmdb files and had me delete them, and re-index that database.

    Admittedly not a complex problem, but one that a quick search of the web did not provide a fix for.

    • Igor Rizvic
      May 10, 2013 at 10:49 pm

      Yup,same here

    • Chris Hoffman
      May 16, 2013 at 6:08 pm

      Yup, it can fix problems in specific areas pretty well, but it's nowhere near foolproof, it seems.