Six Quick and Simple Tricks for Fixing Windows Problems


Windows logoSometimes a problem with Windows that seems baffling has a really simple fix. Simple, that is, when you know the trick. Here are some common problems that can have quick solutions. These tricks may not always work but they are so easy to apply that they are worth knowing.

1.The universal solution for a host of problems

Anyone who has used Windows for a while knows this trick but it is so useful that it is worth repeating. I can’t count how many PC problems I have fixed this way – turn the PC off and turn it on again. Yes, this trick is common knowledge to experienced PC users but a lot of non-technical people are not aware of it. Pass it along to your friends and family and you’ll find them asking you for help with computer problems less frequently. Incidentally, PCs aren't the only place where this simple trick often works. I have used it on any number of electronic devices.

A corollary to this tip is that it pays to do a cold reboot periodically so Windows can clean up after itself. Your PC will run faster.

2. You get a message that your copy of Windows is not genuine

Here is an example of applying the universal solution given above. Even though you have a legitimate, activated copy of Windows, it sometimes happens that turning on your computer greets you with a message that your copy of Windows is not genuine. It doesn’t happen often but, if it does, it can be pretty scary. I have had it happen to me only once but I am glad that I knew that turning the computer off and then back on would probably fix things. And so it did.

3. Windows gets stuck at the loading screen

If you have a PC connected to a network with a cable, it can happen that you get this strange behavior. You turn on the computer, Windows gets to the loading screen, and then goes no further. It just sits there. Try unplugging the network cable. After Windows loads, plug the cable back in.

4. No operating system found

You turn on your computer and get the message “No operating system found”. This can mean that your hard drive has gone bad but it might just be that you forgot and left a USB flash drive connected or left a CD/DVD in the optical drive. If your boot sequence checks the USB or optical drive before the hard drive, the absence of bootable media can trigger the error message. Remove the USB drive or CD/DVD and reboot.

5. Windows takes a long time to shut down

This problem can have many causes but here are two that are easily solved.

Sometimes it is a program waiting for a response from you. For example, you edited a file, forgot to save it, and a program is waiting to know what to do with the changed file. Check if any programs are waiting for you to confirm an operation.

Another cause for delay in shutdown that I have encountered is when an external USB drive is connected. Even though the drive seems inactive and hasn’t been used recently, for some reason its presence slows up the shutdown process. If you keep running into this problem and the delay annoys you, try removing external USB drives before shutting down a computer.

6. Windows 7 or 8 Libraries stop working

The virtual folders called Libraries can be quite useful but sometimes they simply stop working. Either nothing happens when you try to open a library or you get an error message. Here’s the fix:

  1. Open Windows Explorer (File Explorer in Windows 8) and delete the library that is not working. Deleting a library does not delete the files in the library but be sure that you are deleting a library. The usual libraries are Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos.
  2. After deleting affected libraries, right click on “Libraries” in the navigation pane, and click “Restore Default Libraries”.
  3. For illustrations of the solution to this problem, see this link

And there you have it - some very simple fixes that can save you a lot of time. Do you have a favorite quick trick for fixing PC problems? Share it with us.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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I was told by a tech that if you are going to do the shut down and restart, after you shut your computer down, unplug it and hit the power switch a few times to discharge it. Then you can plug it back in and do the restart.

The tech was correct. Unplug after shutdown, then hold the power switch on for 5 seconds or so. This will drain the capacitors and give you a clean system to start again.

"2. You get a message that your copy of Windows is not genuine"

This is typically caused by the Software Protection service not starting as it should. Usually just going into services and starting the service is enough. No need to reboot.

A typical PC user is unfamiliar with things like services and will find rebooting to be easier.

re The universal solution for a host of problems

In Windows 8.1 turning it off and on again may not work as Shut Down doesn't completely shut things down if "fast startup" is enabled. Better to Restart just to be sure.