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How to repair the Windows 10 Start menu apps

When it comes to using Windows 10, the Start menu app tiles are a popular way to open some of your favorite programs. But what happens if the app tiles stop functioning correctly? Here is how to repair the Start menu apps.

How to repair the Windows 10 Start menu apps

The Start menu apps are not standard desktop Windows programs; they are Universal Apps, UWP (Universal Windows Platform), to be exact. They are designed to run on all Microsoft devices, including Xbox, Surface Hub, and HoloLens. Microsoft has set quite a few of them as default apps in Windows 10 for opening photos, videos, music, etc.. So when they stop working, it can be a significant problem.

The steps outlined in this article should be taken in the order listed. Remember to restart your computer between each step so that changes have a chance to take effect. The links to the blogs referenced in each stage are highly detailed and will open in new browser tabs. That way, you don't have to worry about trying to get back to this article.

Reinstall the Start menu apps

This step is one of the most straightforward procedures and should fix the Start menu apps most of the time. All you have to do is copy a string of text and paste it into an Administrative PowerShell console.

There are several ways to open an Administrative PowerShell. Here are a few of the most popular

  1. Open an Administrative PowerShell using one of the following procedures.
    • Bring up the Start menu by left-clicking on the Start Windows logo button.
    • Scroll down to the Windows PowerShell folder and left-click on it.
    • Right-click on Windows PowerShell and select Run as Administrator on the context menu that appears.
    or
    • Bring up the Power User menu by right-clicking on the Start Windows logo button.
    • Left-click on the Windows PowerShell (Admin) link.
    or
    • In the search box to the right of the Start Windows logo button type PowerShell.
    • In the right-hand column of the search results, left-click on Run as Administrator directly below Windows PowerShell.
  2. You will get a prompt stating Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device? Left-click on Yes.
  3. Copy and paste the following text into the PowerShell window.
    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}
  4. When the script is done running, close the PowerShell window by typing exit and press enter.
  5. Restart your computer.

Don't worry if a couple of errors are generated while running the PowerShell command. It happens even on a clean Windows 10 installation. If numerous errors are generated, then you may need to proceed with the following steps.

I once had a system that the Start menu apps would not reinstall because the Windows Security Service would not start. I had to repair it before I could get the Start menu apps working again. Remember that once you complete any of the following procedures, restart your computer and rerun the PowerShell command.

Check the drive for errors

There is a possibility that the Start menu apps are not functioning correctly because there are errors on your C:\ drive. Running a quick standard disk check may be just the thing your computer needs to get the Start menu apps running again.

And even if it doesn't fix the problem with the apps, it is always an excellent procedure to do before the next step. Here's how to run a standard drive check in Windows 10.

  1. Open File Explorer using one of the following:
    • Left-click on the File Explorer icon (manilla folder) on the Taskbar.
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo + E at the same time.
    • Use the Power User menu by right-clicking on the Start Windows logo button and selecting File Explorer.
  2. In the left-side column left-click on This PC.
  3. In the right-side column right-click on the drive you want to check and select Properties.
  4. Left-click on the Tools tab.
  5. Under Error checking left-click on Check.
  6. Left-click on Scan drive.

If you get an error when trying to run a standard drive check, you may have to perform an advanced check. Here are all of the details on how to do it.

How to check your drive for errors in Windows 10

Check system files for corrupt or missing files

Now some of the files the Start menu apps require to operate correctly may be missing or gotten corrupted. Windows 10 has a utility called System File Checker (SFC) that can detect and repair problems with files required by Windows 10 for properly operation.

Let me forewarn you that you may have to run SFC more than once to fix some of Windows 10 files. You may even have to start your computer in safe mode to get SFC to repair Windows 10. Here's how to run a basic SFC scan:

  1. Open an Administrator Command Prompt using one of the following.
    1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo button.
    2. Scroll down the program list and then left-click on the Windows System folder to expand.
    3. Right-click on Command Prompt.
    4. On the context menu that appears, hover your cursor over More and then left-click on Run as administrator. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
    or
    1. In the search box next to the Start Windows logo button, type Command Prompt.
    2. In the list of results, the Command Prompt should be highlighted.
    3. In the right-hand column under Command Prompt, there is an options menu. Left-click on Run as administrator. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  2. Type sfc /scannow into the Admin Command Prompt and press enter.

And in the worst-case scenario, you may have to replace a corrupt file or two manually. Luckily there is a way to determine what files SFC repairs and what ones it cannot. The following article has all of the details on how to go about using SFC to its fullest potential.

Check Windows 10 system files with System File Checker

Perform an in-place upgrade of Windows 10

The next step to getting the Start menu apps to working again involves doing an in-place upgrade of Windows 10. Even though it sounds kind of scary, it is relatively simple.

When performing an in-place upgrade, your documents, pictures, and videos stay perfectly safe. And you can keep all of the installed programs too. The only downside is the default programs for specific file types revert to Windows 10 defaults. To me, that is no biggie. The following article gives all of the details on how to do an in-place upgrade.

How to repair Windows 10 by doing an in-place upgrade

Reset Windows 10

This step is the completely last resort to fixing the Windows 10 Start menu apps. I defiantly don't recommend it, but I do have to suggest it (reluctantly) as an option. With resetting Windows 10, you can keep all of your documents, pictures, and videos. But all of the programs that did not come with Windows 10 will be gone. The following article gives all the details on how to reset Windows 10.

How to reset Windows 10

How to check your drive for errors in Windows 10

Updated July 20, 2020

Keeping the drive in your Windows 10 computer error-free is essential to its performance. If you are experiencing issues opening files or applications, it may be time to check your drive for errors. Here is how to check your drive for errors in Windows 10.

How to check your drive for errors in Windows 10

There are two ways of checking drives for errors in Windows 10, standard and advanced. The standard approach is the easiest to use, but the advanced method has more options.

Standard drive error checking in Windows 10

Standard drive error checking in Windows 10

  1. Open File Explorer using one of the following:
    • Left-click on the File Explorer icon (manilla folder) on the Taskbar.
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo + E at the same time.
    • Use the Power User menu by right-clicking on the Start Windows logo button and selecting File Explorer.
  2. In the left-side column left-click on This PC.
  3. In the right-side column right-click on the drive you want to check and select Properties.
  4. Left-click on the Tools tab.
  5. Under Error checking left-click on Check.
  6. Left-click on Scan drive.

Advanced drive error checking in Windows 10

Advanced drive error checking in Windows 10

  1. Open a Command Prompt with Administrative privileges (click here for instructions)
  2. Use the following command-line syntax(s) and parameter(s) to run CHKDSK:

CHKDSK [volume[[path]filename]]] [/F] [/V] [/R] [/X] [/I] [/C] [/L[:size]] [/B] [/scan] [/spotfix]

volume Specifies the drive letter (followed by a colon), mount point, or volume name.
filename FAT/FAT32 only: Specifies the files to check for fragmentation.
/F Fixes errors on the disk.
/V On FAT/FAT32: Displays the full path and name of every file on the disk. On NTFS: Displays cleanup messages, if any.
/R Locates bad sectors and recovers readable information (implies /F, when /scan not specified).
/L:size NTFS only: Changes the log file size to the specified number of kilobytes. If a size is not specified, it displays the current size.
/X Forces the volume to dismount first if necessary. All opened handles to the volume would then be invalid (implies /F).
/I NTFS only: Performs a less vigorous check of index entries.
/C NTFS only: Skips checking of cycles within the folder structure.
/B NTFS only: Re-evaluates bad clusters on the volume (implies /R).
/scan NTFS only: Runs an online scan on the volume.
/forceofflinefix NTFS only: (Must be used with "/scan") Bypass all online repair; all defects found are queued for offline repair (i.e. "chkdsk /spotfix").
/perf NTFS only: (Must be used with "/scan") Uses more system resources to complete a scan as fast as possible. This may have a negative performance impact on other tasks running on the system.
/spotfix NTFS only: Runs spot-fixing on the volume.
/sdcleanup NTFS only: Garbage collects unneeded security descriptor data (implies /F).
/offlinescanandfix Runs an offline scan and fix on the volume.
/freeorphanedchains FAT/FAT32/exFAT only: Frees any orphaned cluster chains instead of recovering their contents.
/markclean FAT/FAT32/exFAT only: Marks the volume clean if no corruption was detected, even if /F was not specified.

The /I or /C switch reduces the amount of time required to run Chkdsk by skipping certain volume checks.

How to speed up the boot time of your computer

Updated August 31, 2020

Does it seem like your computer takes forever to boot up? Waiting for your Windows-based computer to boot can be quite frustrating. But there are a few things you can do. Here is how to speed up the boot time of your computer.

How to speed up the boot time of your computer

Check the drive for errors

If your computer has a Hard Disk Drive (HDD), this is the first thing you want to do. HDD's are notorious for not writing data back to the exact place where the data was read. Little known fact, but Microsoft didn't invent the Disk Operating System (DOS). It bought Quick and Dirty Operating System (QDOS) in the early '80s and renamed it MS-DOS. If you have a Solid State Drive (SSD), you can bypass this step, as SSD's don't have moving parts.

Check for hardware issues first with the software provided by the manufacturer of your HDD. The Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD) has all of the significant drive manufacturer's diagnostics software built-in, so this is always the right place to start.

Diagnose computer hardware issues with the Ultimate Boot CD

Then check for software issues with Windows built-in CHKDSK.

Check your hard disk for errors in Windows Vista / Windows 7

Check your hard drive for errors in Windows 8

Check your hard drive for errors in Windows 10

Uninstall any unwanted programs

This one is a no-brainer. Allot of adware/junkware will load itself up at boot, causing an increase in boot time. It also takes away resources that could be used by programs you want to run. The first thing to do is to go to the Control Panel > Programs > Programs and Features. Then go through the list of programs to see which ones can be uninstalled. Remember that you can change the way the programs are listed just by clicking on the column name. I like to know when a program was installed because you can find many unwanted clutter installations that way.

Remove unwanted items from startup

MSCONFIG inside of Windows 8
MSCONFIG inside of Windows 8

You can temporarily disable programs and services that start up with Windows using MSCONFIG. MSCONFIG is a diagnostic tool built into Windows that allows you to troubleshoot boot issues. You can enable and disable various boot settings, including programs and services that startup with Windows. Just open an Administrator Command Prompt and type MSCONFIG.

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows Vista and Windows 7

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 8

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 10

Once you have your system fine-tuned with MSCONFIG, you could leave your system running in diagnostic mode by having MSCONFIG not displayed at startup. That's one of the first things I check for on systems I work on. It just too easy to let it go. But if you want to permanently remove the items you have disabled in MSCONFIG, here's how to do it.

The Everything tab inside of Autoruns
The Everything tab inside of Autoruns

  1. Download and extract the latest version of Autoruns from Microsoft.
  2. Open MSCONFIG and make a note of each item you have disabled.
  3. On the General tab of MSCONFIG, select Normal startup, then left-click Apply and OK. When prompted, close MSCONFIG and do not restart the computer. Yes, this will enable all of the items you have disabled, but we will delete them next.
  4. Open the folder where you saved Autoruns.exe, right-click on it and select Run as Administrator.
  5. Once it is done scanning, you need to find the items you had disabled with MSCONFIG. Check the Services and the Logon tabs first. Remember that you can check the logon items for each user with the User pull-down menu. Once you find your things, you can 1) disable it with the checkbox on the left or 2) you can right-click on it and select Delete.

Clean up the drive

It's time to clean up some of the clutter that seems to pile up. Using Windows built-in Disk Cleanup tool (cleanmgr.exe) will quickly clean out all sorts of crap, like user temp files and temporary Internet files. If you want to go a little further with cleaning your drive, download a copy of CCleaner.

Free up more disk space with Windows Vista / Windows 7 Disk Cleanup

Clean up your hard drive in Windows 8 with Disk Cleanup

Clean up Windows 10 with Disk Cleanup

Clean up and optimize your computer for free with CCleaner

Defragment your HDD

This is another step that only pertains to HDD's since SSD's don't get fragmented. If your HDD is fragmented, it takes it longer to find and load files. Optimizing the HDD structure will always give you a little more speed. You can use Windows built-in Optimize and Defragment drive tool or another disk utility like Defraggler from Piriform.

Using Disk Defragmenter in Windows Vista

Using Disk Defragmenter in Windows 7

Defragment and Optimize your hard drive in Windows 8

How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 10

Perform advanced disk defragmentation with Defraggler from Piriform

If you want to go the extra mile with optimizing your HDD, remove the swap file before you defrag and restore it after you're done. And when you restore it, go ahead and use the following calculations.

The minimum pagefile size is one and a half (1.5) x the amount of memory. The maximum pagefile size is three (3) x the minimum pagefile size. Let's say you have 2 Gb (2,048 Mb) of memory. The minimum pagefile size would be 1.5 x 2,048 = 3,072 Mb and the maximum pagefile size would be 3 x 3,072 = 9,216 Mb.

How to keep your hard drive healthy

When it comes to computer repair, hard drive failures are among the top issues I deal with. A failed hard drive can be disastrous. But with some regular maintenance, you can keep your hard drive spinning like a top. Here's how to keep your hard drive healthy.

How to keep your hard drive healthy

Hard drive failures fall into two (2) classes: Predictable and Unpredictable. Predictable failures arise from mechanical wear and the eventual degrading of the storage surface. Unpredictable failures come from parts becoming defective or sudden mechanical failures. Around 60% of hard drive failures are from gradual wear and tear from daily use. With regular maintenance, you may be able to find, fix, and repair problems before they become catastrophic.

CHKDSK (check disk)

CHKDSK running on Windows 10 Tech Preview boot
CHKDSK running on Windows 10 Tech Preview boot

Every operating system has a built-in utility for checking the health of your hard drive. In the early years of Windows (when it ran on top of DOS), there was ScanDisk. When Microsoft came out with Windows NT and NTFS, the disk checking utility changed to CHKDSK and is still in use today. The functionally has been expanded, but the commands have changed very little. CHKDSK verifies the integrity of the file system and fixes logical file system errors. It can also check for bad sectors and mark them as bad, but it cannot repair them. Cost: Free

Run CHKDSK in Windows XP

Run CHKDSK in Windows Vista / Windows 7

Run CHKDSK in Windows 8.1

Run CHKDSK in Windows 10

Manufacturer's software

UBCD HHD diagnostics list A thru P
UBCD HDD diagnostics list A thru P

Almost all hard drive manufacturers have utilities to check their drives for errors. Their software can check the SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) status and test the hard drive's physical condition. Best of all, their software can re-map bad sectors to spare sectors. You can find most diagnostics software on the manufactures' website or use the version included in the Ultimate Boot CD (recommended). Cost: Free.

Ultimate Boot CD

SpinRite

Intro screen from GRC SpinRite
Intro screen from GRC SpinRite

SpinRite from Gibson Research Corporation is a magnetic storage data recovery, repair, and maintenance utility. The way it works is quite ingenious. It reads the data from each sector, inverts it, and then writes it back to the drive. It then reads the same sector, inverts the data, and then writes it back to the drive in the original format. If it can read, invert and write to a bad sector, it can clear the bad sector flag and make it usable again. SpinRite also has a feature called DynaStat that can reassemble missing data from bad sectors. Cost: $89.

SpinRite

How to upgrade the hard drive in your computer

Are you running out of free space on your computer's hard drive? You've uninstalled unused programs and cleaned it up, but still cannot free up any more space? Doing computer repair, I've seen this many times and have personally run out of space more times than I care to remember. Here's how to upgrade the hard drive in your computer.

Changing out a hard drive may sound scary, but it's not. If your existing drive is healthy and you have a good backup of the data on it, you should be good to go. The procedure is the same for desktop computers and laptops, with slight differences due to form factor (physical size).

Two different sizes of hard drives side-by-side
Two different sizes of hard drives side-by-side

There are two types of drives, SSD (Solid State Drive) and HDD (Hard Disk Drive), two different types of hard drive interfaces, SATA (7 pin connection cable) and PATA (40 pin ribbon connection cable) and two different form factors (physical size) of drives; 2.5" and 3.5" (the dimension relates to the width of the drive). HHD's come in 3.5" and 2.5" sizes, SSD's come in only the 2.5" form factor. Laptops use the 2.5" form factor and desktop computers can use either size. If you're planning on using an SSD or 2.5" HDD in a desktop computer you'll have to use 2.5" to 3.5" adapter brackets. Also, if you're installing an SSD into a laptop, check the physical dimensions first. Some SSD's are higher (thicker) than standard 2.5" HDD's and may not fit into a laptop.

View of hard drive properties inside of Disk Management
View of hard drive properties inside of Disk Management

The next thing to do is find out what you have for an existing drive. Open Computer Management, expand the Storage section and select Disk Management. Find the disk you want to upgrade, right-click on the disk name (Disk 0, Disk 1, etc.) and select Properties. On the General tab you will find the model number of that drive. Do a Google search for it and find out the specifications (form factor, data capacity and interface). Now it's just a matter of getting a new drive that matches the form factor and interface. Remember that the data capacity of your new drive has to be equal to or larger than your existing drive.

If your existing drive is an HDD, the first thing to do is check the existing drive for errors. Running a Checkdisk will find any errors that might prevent the successful cloning of the drive.

Running Checkdisk in Windows XP
Running Checkdisk in Windows 7 / Windows Vista
Running Checkdisk in Windows 8

If errors are found on the existing drive, you will not be able to use the software provided by the new drive's manufacturer. In this case, you will have to use third-party software like R-Drive that can ignore read errors.

Two ways to clone a hard drive

Drive-to-drive cloning

Drive-to-drive is the easiest to do and a few drive manufacturers (Western Digital, Seagate, etc.) have free utilities to do this. There are also a few free disk cloning utilities out there. Check out the UBCD, it has a few. All you have to do is turn off your computer and install the new drive into your computer. If your system is a desktop computer, consult the manufacturer's documentation on how to do this. If it's a laptop, you will have to attach it using either a USB adapter or inside of an external case.

A laptop hard drive connected to a USB adapter
A laptop hard drive connected to a USB adapter

If you plan on reusing your existing laptop drive, an external case might be the way to go. That way when you're done, you can put your existing drive into it, reformat it and use it as an external drive for storage.

Once you have the new drive in place, just start your computer up, install the manufacturer's software and start the disk clone. If you're installing a larger drive, always remember to check and make sure that the new free space is going to partition you want to expand. Once done, just power off the computer and change the drives out. If your system is a laptop, consult the manufacturer's documentation on how to change out the hard drive. If you installed a HDD, first thing you want to do is a Checkdisk. When you clone a drive, you copy everything including the MFT's (Master File Table). SSD's will automatically adjust them, HDD's don't. Run a Checkdisk to fix them.

Drive-to-image / image-to-drive cloning

Drive-to-image / image-to-drive are a bit harder to do but it has an advantage, a full disk backup. This process does require third-party software like R-Drive and an external drive or network drive. Most disk cloning tools allow you to create a boot disk, that way you can boot your system up on it to clone the drive. Once you have created a boot disk, you're ready to go.

Basically the process is the same as drive-to-drive, but instead of cloning to the new drive, you create a file containing an image of the existing hard drive on a removable hard drive or network folder. I prefer the portable (2.5") external hard drive, as they don't require any additional source of power (AC adapter). Boot your computer up on the disk you created. Once it is booted up, attach an external hard drive or configure the network settings and select the location for your drive image.

After you create the drive image, you can shut down your computer and change out the drives. Consult the manufacturer's documentation on how to change out the hard drive. Then you boot your computer back up on the disk you created, reconnect your external drive or network drive and restore the drive from the image file. If you're installing a larger drive, always remember to check and make sure that the new free space is going to partition you want to expand. Once done, just shut the system down, remove the boot disk and start it back up. If you installed a HDD, first thing you want to do is a Checkdisk. When you clone a drive, you copy everything including the Master File Tables. SSD's will automatically adjust them, HDD's don't. Run a checkdisk to fix them.

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