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How to Troubleshoot Problems in Windows

Are you bumping into trouble with Windows? Maybe it's freezing or crashing, or perhaps a particular application or feature isn't working right.

Trying to narrow down the cause and fix the problem can be challenging and time-consuming. Instead, let Windows itself come to your rescue via its built-in troubleshooters.

Available in any supported version of Windows, the built-in troubleshooters target specific types of problems based on the feature or category. Having trouble connecting to the internet? Run the Internet Connections troubleshooter. Bluetooth headaches? Run the Bluetooth troubleshooter. The troubleshooter analyzes the problem, suggests a solution, and in some cases even implements the fix itself. Let's see how the Windows troubleshooters can pinpoint and resolve problems.

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  • Run From Control Panel

    Troubleshooters are accessible in Windows 10, 8.1, and 7. In Windows 8.1 or 7, you access the troubleshooters from Control Panel. In Windows 10, you can run them either from Control Panel or Settings. I'll try it from Control Panel first, so you can follow along no matter which version of Windows you use.

    Okay, let's say you're being plagued by a persistent problem in Windows. You may have already tried various methods to resolve the issue, but you're still stuck with it. Open Control Panel in large icon view and double-click on the icon for Troubleshooting.

  • Troubleshooting Window

    The troubleshooting window displays links to different features and categories.

  • Categories

    If you don't see the right link for your issue or aren't sure which one to pick, click on one of the relevant categories, such as Programs, Hardware and Sound, Network and Internet, or System and Security. Now you see all the troubleshooters for each specific type of issue in that category.

  • View All

    You can also return to the main troubleshooting screen. Then click on the link on the left side to View all. This list breaks down the troubleshooters with items such as Bluetooth, Connecting to a Network, Keyboard, Printer, and Video Playback.

  • Find Your Troubleshooter

    Wherever you find it, click on the link for the troubleshooter you think best applies to the problem. The initial screen for that troubleshooter pops up. Click Next.

  • The Fix Is In (or Not)

    In some cases, the troubleshooter may come up empty, telling you it couldn't identify the problem or that no changes or updates were necessary. In other cases, the troubleshooter detects a problem and may automatically try to fix it. The troubleshooter then tells you that some changes were made to your system. To see the change, click on the link to View detailed information.

  • Fix Details

    The troubleshooter displays the details of the fix for you to review. Click Next when done.

  • Try, Try Again

    Close the troubleshooter. Now try to reproduce the problem. Has it disappeared? If so, hurrah! If not, you may want to try another troubleshooter you think is related to the issue. Some troubleshooters ask if you want to make certain changes; others will install or reinstall the necessary drivers to resolve the problem. Exhaust the resources of the troubleshooters to try different ways to fix the issue.

  • Running a Troubleshooter on Windows 10

    To run a troubleshooter from Windows 10 Settings, open Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot. Click on the item that best matches the issue and then click on the button to Run the troubleshooter. Follow the same steps and suggestions offered above to track down and hopefully eliminate the problem.

  • More Tools

    What if the troubleshooters aren't up to the task? You can tap into other features in Windows to try to resolve a glitch. Run a memory check to analyze your system memory. Check Event Viewer to see if you can find a record of the problem. And restart your PC in Safe Mode to eliminate bad drivers and other potential culprits.

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