I don't even know where to start. I'm going to try and keep this short and simple, but I've been spending hours on this new problem that appeared on my Windows 10 computer this Monday.
Info on the computer:
Dell Optiplex 9020 (about 3 years old)
Came with Windows 7 Pro, but I upgraded to Windows 10 last year
Belongs to a Windows domain
It's been working great for many months...then I came into work this Monday. I've been fighting with it for hours every day all week.
This is the only Windows 10 computer on the network - all the others are still on Windows 7...exactly for this reason.
I'm not sure if this is relevant, but when I first came in on Monday (Jan 15th) and logged into the computer, I noticed that a few icons were missing form the task bar like the 'Store', 'Edge' and 1 or 2 more. I just thought it was nothing so I just restarted the computer, re-logged in, and the task bar looked fine. But then I started discovering the below issues...
1. Taskbar issues:
a. Start menu unresponsive - when I click on it, it does nothing
b. Search? Cortana? (the ring next to the Start menu) unresponsive
c. Date/time unresponsive (the date/time is correct, but nothing happens when I click on it)
d. System notification is unresponsive
e. A few 'shortcuts' on the taskbar don't work - Edge, Calculator, App Store
2. Can't open Windows Explorer (from the shortcut on my desktop, or 'directly' by double-clicking on Explorer.exe)
It produces the following error when I try:
Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access the item
Interestingly I can launch/run 'This PC' (on my desktop) and 'File Explorer' just fine.
3. Most .png, .jpg files are not showing the thumbnails, nor can I double-click to view the image
4. Can't open 'Settings' by using Windows + R and enter 'ms-settings:' (since I can't get into the start menu). What happens is that it seems like it opens for a split-second, but then closes immediately
This list is just the things I can think of off the top of my head that have been happening - there may be more issues that I haven't recalled at the moment (or haven't discovered).
A couple notes about the above issues:
In case it wasn't clear, my entire taskbar is not completely broken - the 'Task View' button, File Explorer, and the 'minimize all' bar works, The system tray seems to work ok also.
Things I have tried:
1. Ran chkdsk (this was a bit of a pain to get to run successfully actually)
2. Ran sfc /scannow (I also had problems running this successfully too, more so than the chkdsk...but I was finally able to run it by using a Windows 10 media flash drive in Windows RE. But all this is a whole other story)
3. Went into Safe Mode - everything seems ok in Safe Mode
4. Ran a Powershell command that reinstalls all Windows Apps (per https://www.digitalcitizen.life/how-reinstall-all-windows-10-default-apps-powershell)
5. Downloaded/ran Microsoft's Windows 10 Start Menu Troubleshooter. It came back with 2 errors -
A. Tile database is corrupt (it did not fix it)
B. Required applications are not installed correctly... (it did not fix it)
6. Now here's what surprised me - I thought for sure it would work - I did a (Windows) System Restore from 1/11/18. I thought it would work because the computer was behaving just fine all week last week. But alas, it did not fix the problems.
7. Added DWORD 'EnableXAMLStartMenu' in registry (per https://www.kapilarya.com/fix-start-button-not-working-in-windows-10)
8. Created a new local user with Administrator privileges. (Note that I had to use Powershell to give the new user Administrator privileges). I was able to log in as that new user, but the Start menu still did not work. I did this 3 more times just to be thorough, and all 3 of the other new users did not have a working Start menu.
(This sounds a bit misleading so see the next item)
9. Logged in to the company domain with 'Administrator'. Much to my surprise, the Start Menu WORKED! This is the way I actually created the new (local) users (non-Microsoft accounts) that I just mentioned in #8. However, I could not 'Change account type' - nothing happens when you click that button. This is why I had to use Powershell to give the new user Administrator privileges. I also discovered that the 'add a work or school user' did nothing.
Note - I'm not sure why I got so hung up on the new users having to have Administrator privileges because you don't have to be an Admin to use the Start menu, right?!
So I did a couple things when I was in the Administrator account such as run the Windows 10 Start Menu Troubleshooter again. I got different results - it only found the 'Tile database is corrupt' issue, but this time it says it fixed it. Of course it didn't fix it as far as I'm concerned because after restarting and logging into my main account, the Start menu still didn't work.
I'm sure there are things that I'm forgetting, but hopefully what I have already supplied will be enough to go by. I'm ready to pull my hair out at this point so I'm hoping someone has a great tool/tip/idea/etc!
Oh, I do have a complete partition image (made with 'partimage') that I can use but it's from 3 years ago, so I'd have to re-upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10, re-install software (I've installed a lot of software since then), do some re-configurations, and of course restore my data...this does not sound fun, so I'm trying to use it only as a last resort.
Any questions, let me know. And if I remember anything major I'll update this post.
Thanks for making it this far!