Windows troubleshooting tips, tools, and techniques

    As folks use Windows 10 or 11 of their every day work, issues, points, and outright errors will generally happen. Then, it could be crucial to interact in troubleshooting workout routines to aim to diagnose underlying causes.Sometimes such identification can result in tried fixes. Sometimes such makes an attempt even succeed. Other occasions, fixes is probably not accessible, which can necessitate working round issues and/or reporting these issues to Microsoft.All this stated, a sure self-discipline to troubleshooting Windows is probably going to assist customers and admins get by way of the method and get again to work with minimal disruption.What troubleshooting is all aboutThree fundamental actions, every involving cautious remark and a few documentation, drive most troubleshooting efforts. Briefly described, these include: 1. Observing and describing signs: On Windows gadgets, some signs are completely overt. They will usually embody error messages you can look as much as straight determine causes.Other signs could also be extra basic, reminiscent of “system runs slowly,” “takes forever to boot,” “application takes forever to launch,” “long network latencies,” and so forth. These latter sorts of issues might be extra vexing and time-consuming to repair, however could also be amenable to particular troubleshooting instruments (described in additional element in “Windows troubleshooters” later on this story). 2. Matching signs to potential causes: For noticed signs, on-line analysis will normally assist to correlate potential causes. For noticed error messages, potential causes will usually be recognized explicitly. (Warning: such identifications don’t all the time pan out, however they usually do.)Keeping monitor of identifications might be necessary when matching signs to causes. That’s as a result of many signs of Windows bother could have a number of potential causes, just one (or some) of which might be precise causes. 3. Attempting fixes or workarounds based mostly on potential causes: When a possible trigger is recognized, additional analysis could result in advisable or documented fixes. Keeping monitor of what’s been tried is necessary so that you just don’t repeat the identical (or related) potential fixes — particularly people who don’t do something.When troubleshooting results in repair makes an attempt (because it usually will), it’s prudent to make a picture backup earlier than making use of such fixes — and be sure you have instruments at hand to revive that backup from alternate boot media. Why? Because the worst-case final result from an tried repair is a PC that gained’t boot or run correctly. By booting from restoration media and restoring the pre-fix picture backup, you’ll get again to the place you began with minimal muss and fuss. (See my story “Build the ultimate bootable Windows repair drive” for extra particulars.)In step 3, there’ll usually be repeated trial-and-failure maneuvers earlier than a repair or workaround is carried out, otherwise you run out of choices. Keep monitor of the time you put money into troubleshooting, so you’ll know when to think about short-circuiting the method. Though it’s a little bit of a detour, that’s the subsequent troubleshooting approach I have to suggest.Short-circuiting the troubleshooting course ofThere’s a form of “universal panacea” to Windows issues you need to remember once you begin troubleshooting. I clarify this fix-all in my story “How to fix Windows 10 with an in-place upgrade install.” (The similar approach works for Windows 11 simply as effectively.) Basically, it entails changing the entire OS recordsdata for no matter model of Windows you’re presently working utilizing setup.exe from an identical Windows ISO. This takes 15 to 30 minutes and fixes the overwhelming majority of points that require troubleshooting within the first place.Thus, if I discover myself 30 or extra minutes right into a troubleshooting train, I begin pondering, “Maybe I should do an in-place upgrade.” By the time I’m 60 minutes in, if I’m nonetheless not making progress, “maybe” will get dropped, and that’s what I attempt subsequent. In my private expertise in coping with tons of of Windows points and issues over the previous three many years, this method works in 80% to 90% of all such instances.But first, attempt the next troubleshooting instruments to diagnose and repair the issue with out overwriting the working system recordsdata.Working with Reliability MonitorIf you’re fortunate, the Windows bother you’re capturing is already recognized to Windows built-in monitoring amenities. This contains the Reliability Monitor, accessible by way of the Settings app (sort reli into the Settings search bar, and an merchandise named “View reliability history” comes up). It will usually present you a message below the heading “Critical events,” as proven in Figure 1. Notice that Calculator.exe (the built-in Windows calculator app) skilled a glitch on June 14: “Stopped responding and was closed.” Ed Tittel/IDG

    Fig. 1: Reliability Monitor might be a superb supply of information about errors and points in Windows. (Click picture to enlarge it.)

    In Reliability Monitor, particulars for entries can be found by double-clicking them. Figure 2 exhibits the small print accessible for the calculator error highlighted in Figure 1. Ed Tittel/IDG

    Fig. 2: Details for the calculator error present a “MoAppHang” drawback occasion title. With correct decoding, this tells you it stop interacting with Windows and was closed. (Click picture to enlarge it.)

    Notice the important thing entry “Problem Event Name.” It takes the worth “MoAppHang,” which implies that a UWP software — on this case, the calculator — has stopped responding to the working system, a situation recognized in troubleshooting converse as a “hang.” Simply put, the calculator stopped speaking with the OS, and was subsequently closed. I blogged about this sort of error in November 2018 in additional element, when you’d wish to know extra.Reliability Monitor can assist you determine an ideal many Windows points and issues. My story “Troubleshooting Windows 10 with Reliability Monitor” explains how finest to work with this software, which works identically and with equal functionality in Windows 11. Windows admins may moreover want to attempt Reliability Monitor’s extra complicated and succesful cousin Event Viewer, additionally constructed into Windows.Using the Windows Error Lookup ToolMost of the sorts of issues that Reliability Monitor and Event Viewer discover additionally produce Windows error codes. Thankfully, Microsoft affords a free command line software referred to as the Microsoft Error Lookup Tool, a.okay.a. “ERR,” that may enable you perceive extra about what error codes search to speak. That makes this software price downloading and protecting round. As I write this story, the present model of the software is called Err_6.4.5, with a creation date of May 2021. The newest model, nonetheless, is all the time accessible at from the Microsoft Download Center.Indeed, when an error code is on the market for an issue, utilizing the software is one of the best ways to seek for fixes and/or workarounds to deal with that drawback. For instance, in Reliability Monitor I discovered an exception code worth of 0XC0000005 for a current BEX error related to a Samsung Magician service. As proven in Figure 3, the Error Lookup Tool produces 5 matches for that code. Ed Tittel/IDG

    Fig. 3: Error code lookup output for code 0XC0000005. Here, winerror.h is probably the most related. (Click picture to enlarge it.)

    Looking up the BEX drawback occasion title on-line exhibits it’s related to entry violations. Also, the winerror.h embody file, the final consequence proven in Figure 3, is the one more than likely to provide errors when accessing a service. Thus, I can inform that the ERROR_ACCESS_DENIED interpretation is more than likely for this explicit error code and related module (Samsung Magician, which handles my C: drive SSD on the goal system). In truth, winerror.h is among the sources that the software makes use of to search for system error codes.Searching on error codes (utilizing Google, for instance) is an honest technique for investigating causes and fixes. Restricting that search to will generally assist, however that may present “official” methods which may omit recognized, however less-than-perfect workarounds. I normally test the Microsoft path first, and if it gives no pleasure, transfer onto third-party sources and options. Sites reminiscent of Tom’s Hardware, MSPowerUser, Neowin, Windows Central and TheWindowsMembership all have copious data on error codes and associated fixes or workarounds.Bring on the Windows troubleshootersIf you possibly can’t pinpoint an error code in your present bother, don’t despair. Your subsequent transfer ought to be to show to the Windows troubleshooters. Type bother into the Windows search software in both Windows 10 or Windows 11, and you need to have the ability to launch the Control Panel merchandise entitled “Troubleshoot computer problems” proven in Figure 4. You can use its classes — Programs, Hardware and Sound, Network and Internet, and System and Security, to drill down extra deeply into a selected drawback space. Ed Tittel/IDG

    Fig. 4: Follow the classes to search out an applicable troubleshooting software, and let Windows do the work!

    Screenshot: windows-troubleshooting-fig04-windows-troubleshooters.jpgFig. 4: Follow the classes to search out an applicable troubleshooting software, and let Windows do the work!By manner of illustration, Figure 5 exhibits the assorted troubleshooting instruments accessible below the Network and Internet heading. Ed Tittel/IDG

    Fig 5: Troubleshooting instruments for community and web points. Pick one!

    Because web entry issues are one thing any Windows person can relate to, let’s run the Internet Connections software to see what it does.It launches the software, prompts the person to click on Next, then affords two choices: 1. Troubleshoot my connection to the Internet and a pair of. Help me connect with a selected net web page. Upon selecting 1, the software runs diagnostics, which can report potential points if any are detected.When it could actually, a troubleshooter will even try to repair issues it diagnoses, and it additionally experiences whether or not such restore makes an attempt succeed or fail. This makes troubleshooters good, all-around “fix-it” instruments for every kind of frequent Windows issues or points.In basic, this explains how the assorted troubleshooters work. It’s price exploring the classes and the person instruments so you need to use them do you have to ever want them.If nothing else works, do this…Despite all troubleshooting efforts, together with the aforementioned in-place restore set up, in some instances Windows bother merely can’t be vanquished. Should that occur to a PC below your care, it could be time to reinstall Windows from scratch and begin over. See my story “Windows 10 recovery, revisited: The new way to perform a clean install” for directions, which works for Windows 11 as effectively.Heaven forbid you need to want that story, although it’s prepared to speak you thru that course of if all else fails. Good luck!

    Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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