Ooops! 10 Common User Errors & How To Fix Them In Windows 8

Chris Hoffman 05-09-2013

Try as it might to be an easy-to-use, simplified operating system for tablets and other consumption devices, Windows 8 is still Windows at heart. If you’re using Windows 8’s desktop, you’ll still be facing many of the issues you faced on previous versions of Windows. It’s possible to delete files, fill your computer’s system tray with startup programs, and experience other Windows system issues.


We’ll cover some common problems users will face and how to fix them on Windows 8. Some of these tricks may work on previous versions of Windows, but Windows 8 adds many new tools to help with these sorts of problems. For example, Windows 8 includes a built-in antivirus Five Surprising Facts About Windows 8 Windows 8 is full of surprising changes – whatever you think about Windows 8, Microsoft certainly isn’t being timid this time around. From integrated antivirus protection and less-disruptive updating to the removal of the Windows... Read More , so users will have malware protection out of the box.

Accidentally Deleted Files?

Windows 8’s File History feature Did You Know Windows 8 Has a Built-In Time Machine Backup? We sometimes forget with all the focus on Windows 8's new "Modern" interface, but Windows 8 has a variety of great desktop improvements. One of them is File History, a built-in backup feature that functions... Read More automatically makes copies of your files if you enable it. After enabling this feature, you can restore a file you’ve deleted or restore a previous copy of a file — ideal if you’ve made some changes to a document and want to get the old version back.  File History runs frequently, making backup copies of your files every hour.

After enabling file history, just click the History button on the ribbon in the folder that once contained the file to start restoring it.

windows 8 backup

Forgot to Set Up File History?

If you use a traditional magnetic hard drive instead of a modern solid-state drive, you may also be able to restore deleted files with a file recovery program like Piriform’s Recuva. Such programs scan your hard drive, looking for bits of deleted files and offering to restore them.


They won’t work on solid-state drives because files deleted from SSDs are typically erased immediately, unless TRIM Why TRIM is Important to Solid State Hard Drives? [Technology Explained] Read More was disabled. If you’re using an SSD, be sure to enable File History Did You Know Windows 8 Has a Built-In Time Machine Backup? We sometimes forget with all the focus on Windows 8's new "Modern" interface, but Windows 8 has a variety of great desktop improvements. One of them is File History, a built-in backup feature that functions... Read More before you accidentally delete a file!

Got Too Many Startup Programs?

Windows 8’s Task Manager The Windows 8 Task Manager: A Gem Hidden In Plain Sight While many parts of Windows 8 are debatable (maybe Modern is the future; maybe it's not), one element of Windows 8 that has undergone a massive overhaul and made it unequivocally more awesome is the... Read More allows you to manage your startup programs. If you’ve installed too many programs that are automatically starting with your computer and they’re slowing down your startup process and cluttering your system tray, there’s finally an integrated way to manage these properly.

Just right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. Click the More details link and use the options on the Startup tab to disable your startup programs. Windows 8 even tells you how much time each program adds to your startup process.

make windows 8 fast


Have You Messed Up Any Settings?

You can restore the default options in many Windows programs if you’ve changed them and want to get back to how they were before you messed around with them. If you’ve…

  • Deleted a library: Right-click the Libraries header in the File Explorer application and select Restore default libraries.
  • Messed up your folder display settings: Click the View tab in File Explorer, click the Options icon, and select Change folder and search options. There’s a separate Restore Defaults button on each tab here — each one will restore the options specified on the tab to their default settings.
  • Hid too many system tray icons: Right-click the taskbar, click Properties, click the Customize button next to Notification area, and select Restore default icon behaviors.

Experiencing Problems With Internet Explorer?

The desktop version of Internet Explorer can experience problems if you install too many browser add-ons, such as toolbars. You may also experience problems if you’ve tweaked too many of the advanced settings in Internet Explorer and disabled things you shouldn’t have.

Luckily, Internet Explorer gives you a way to reset it to its default state. To do so, open Internet Explorer, click the gear icon, select Internet Options, click the Advanced tab, and click Reset.

You’ll lose your toolbars, add-ons, browser settings, and most other browsing data. However, you won’t lose your Internet Explorer favorites.



Does the idea of using Internet Explorer make you shiver? The browser has evolved! Read our review on Internet Explorer 11 Surprise: Internet Explorer 11 Has Matured Into A Modern Browser Remember Internet Explorer 6? Well, Internet Explorer isn't horrible anymore. Whether you like IE or not, you can't deny that it has improved dramatically and is now worthy of taking its place alongside other modern... Read More .

Suffering From Frozen or Resource-Sucking Programs?

It’s not an error on your part, but occasionally a program will freeze and become unresponsive. Worse yet, sometimes a program may stay running in the background, sucking up CPU and memory resources to do nothing at all. In cases like this one, you can use the Task Manager to end the program How to Make Windows 8 Go Faster: 8 Tips For Improving Performance Whatever you think of Windows 8 (at MakeUseOf, our opinions are mixed), it’s certainly speedy. Windows 8 boots faster than previous versions of Windows, has lower memory usage, and has a desktop that feels nice... Read More .

Either Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and click Task Manager or right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager to open the Task Manger. From here, you can right-click a program and select End Task to forcibly stop it. The Windows 8 task manager color-codes programs by resource usage, so it’s easy to see if a program is malfunctioning and consuming too much resources in the background.


make windows 8 fast

Does Your Computer Freeze?

It’s possible that your computer may become frozen completely. If it’s not responding at all, you should press Ctrl+Alt+Delete at the same time. If you’re lucky, your computer is still responsive and you can use the Ctrl+Alt+Delete screen to open the Task Manager and kill programs or just click the Power button and reboot your computer.

If your computer isn’t responding at all, you can press and hold the physical power button on your computer. After a few seconds, it will stop completely. This method shouldn’t be used to turn off your PC regularly, as it’s a forcible, hard reset that doesn’t allow your computer to shut down cleanly. However, it’s necessary if your computer isn’t responding.


Facing General PC Issues?

Windows 8 allows you to “Refresh Your PC,” How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation In addition to the standard System Restore feature, Windows 8 has features for "refreshing" and "resetting" your PC. Think of these as ways of quickly re-installing Windows -- either keeping your personal files or deleting... Read More which is essentially an easy way to reinstall Windows. Windows will automatically refresh itself, restoring itself to its default state. Windows will preserve your personal files and Modern apps from the Windows Store What Are The Best Apps To Get Started With Windows 8? Read More , but you’ll have to reinstall any desktop apps you have installed after this.

This is a quick way to get Windows back to a fresh state without losing your files or going through the traditional Windows install process. You’ll find this option in the PC settings app under the General section.

restore windows 8

Experiencing System Issues?

You can also use the System Restore feature How To Make Sure Windows System Restore Works When You Need It System restore is not an automatic feature in Windows 7. Usually it is enabled when you've purchased a new system, but after running updates, installing system tools or running any other list of tasks that... Read More to partially restore your system without performing a Refresh. System Restore won’t erase the desktop programs you have installed, so this can be a faster method. System Restore automatically creates “restore points,” which make a backup copy of important system files.

This can be useful after system files have become damaged somehow — perhaps you installed unstable drivers on your system or accidentally uninstalled a device driver. System Restore can fix such problems without needing to perform a Refresh and lose all your desktop programs.


Accidentally Deleted System Files?

Windows includes the System File Checker (SFC) command, which you can run manually. Run this command and Windows will scan the computer’s system files, ensuring they’re all present and in working order. If a file has become deleted or corrupted, the System File Checker will notice and automatically replace it. This all happens without needing to use the Refresh or System Restore features.

To use this command, press the Start button, type Command Prompt, right-click the Command Prompt shortcut, and select Run as administrator. In the Administrator Command Prompt window that appears, run the following command:

sfc /scannow


Do you know any other common problems and fixes for them on Windows 8? Leave a comment and share your solutions!

Image Credit: comedy_nose on Flickr

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  1. Larry
    February 22, 2015 at 2:17 am

    set up my Sony Viao to dual boot Windows 7 & 8.1. as soon as it did the last reboot of the install, 8.1 screen is very dim, as though the brightness was turned all he way down.. colors are there and all is clear to read but very very dim. if I reboot into Win 7, all is as it should be... is this a known problem?? any ideas on how to fix? running driver update always sez that I already have the most up to date driver... ???

  2. ivy
    January 25, 2014 at 10:02 am

    my pc got stuck up! i dont know how to fix it.! im worried! :( the second screen becomes black!.. what should i do?

  3. jimbo
    September 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    On the keyboard between Ctrl and Alt (on my keyboard) is the "Windows" key. Press this and the E to bring up the desktop. Apparently windows 8.1 will allow us to boot directly to this without any fiddling.

    Once in the desktop, if you hover your mouse on the right hand side a menu 'ribbon' comes up which includes a search magnifying glass, use that to call up programs. Not clean and neat but ok.

  4. Jimbo
    September 11, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Takes a while to get used to it. I ALWAYS start by going Windows E which brings up the 'normal' desktop. Once there all is ok.

    W8 is SO MUCH FASTER than anything else to start up. I installed it over W7 on a four year old Toshiba AMD laptop and it starts within a few seconds. Very good.

    • Robin W
      September 12, 2013 at 9:45 pm

      Windows E? Where is that? Thanks!

  5. Terrie
    September 8, 2013 at 8:23 am

    not bad will have a play starting from the beginning, Im not to keen on the windows eight program either.
    Cheers Terrie

  6. john werneken
    September 7, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Glad this article is there for those who need it. Unfortunately I know to much about windows to be able to add to the good list of basic tips. Having been abused by computers for fifty years, I am of the opinion that computers are about as far from being well designed as it is possible for a product to be. (Compare: doorknob- once seen in operation, no further directions help or practice is required).

    Perhaps because computers do things people find tedious in order to produce hopefully what we want, and do so in a tedious manner, for the most part. Media players like iPods and iPads may be an exception.

    Your list is very basic very essential to know stuff to know; any desktop operating system has similar issues, things one either knows or is always asking for help on. Better I think to have tip sheets like this around...

    I do have some tips and tricks, but not in a convenient list, and do not think the audience for the basic list above would fine mine relevant or useful. Most people don't do the stuff I do and don't bump into the same issues I do.

  7. Amit G
    September 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Nice article. Helpful for basic troubleshooting most of the issues. Thanks.

  8. Noel
    September 6, 2013 at 6:04 pm


  9. Robin W
    September 6, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Thanks for writing this Chris! I just got a computer with Windows 8 & I'll say right now I hate it, but maybe with your tips, their tutorials & time I'll not want to throw it out the window!!!

    • Sam M
      September 10, 2013 at 6:43 am

      I was with the same idea about 8 when I bought it. but now I love 8. you can see some great features are included under the simple interface. lot of features. and windows 8 is really fast compared to other OSs. I am waiting to install 8.1. I am sure that will be really good.

  10. Finco
    September 6, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Error 1: Bought Windows 8.

  11. Deen
    September 6, 2013 at 7:03 am

    Wow, thanks! This is definitely useful!

  12. Snickers
    September 5, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Great tips! Thinking about switching to Windows Phone. Tired of Google childish games.