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Broken 'Start menu', Search/Cortana, Clock and more


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#1 domiflichi

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Posted 18 January 2018 - 12:56 PM

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

16GB RAM

SSD

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...

 

Symptoms/problems:

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!



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#2 dc3

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 11:00 AM

If this is running properly in Safe Mode you should run a Clean Boot to see what third party service/s are causing this.

 

How to perform a Clean Boot.

Warning:  Disabling items in Services or Startup may leave your anitivius disabled until the process is ended.  For this reason I would suggest that you perform this process off line.

 Press the Windows key OS4o0pO.png and the R key to open Run, then type msconfig in the search box.  This will open System Configuration.

If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, you should enter the password or provide confirmation.

1. Click/tap on the General tab.   

2. Click/tap on the Selective startup option.

3. Remove the check mark in the Load startup items  check box.

clean-boot-1.png

4.  Click on the Services tab.

5.  Place a check mark in the Hide all Microsoft services check box, this will remove the Microsoft Services from the list but will still be running.

6.  Click Disable all, this will remove all of the check marks in the Services list.

clean-boot2.png

7.  Click on Hide all Microsoft services.  Click on Apply then OK  

clean-boot3.png

Click on Restart in the window that opens.

When the computer is restarted it will boot normally.  

If the problem does not continue after the restart please do the following.

8.  Divide the number of these services by two and you place checks in the first half of these, then restart the computer.
 
9.  If the problem doesn't return in those services remove the checks and place checks in the remaining services and restart the computer.

10.  When you find which half the service is in go on to the next step.  

11. The half which has the service causing this problem remove half of the checks as you did previously to see which half has this service.  Restart the computer.  

12.  If it isn't in the first half of these services, do the same with the last half of the services.

13.  Once you have narrowed it down to the last three or four services remove the checks one at a time till you find the service at fault.

Once you have found the service post it in your topic.


Family and loved ones will always be a priority in my daily life.  You never know when one will leave you.

 

 

 

 


#3 domiflichi

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 12:24 PM

Well, I got through all the way to Step 7, but no joy. So I obviously didn't do steps 8-13 - The problem did (and still does) continue.

 

I'm getting a feeling it's some kind of weird permission issue. I wanted to try and uninstall BitDefender Endpoint Security, but when I try to open Control Panel via the 'Run' box I get the following error:

 

Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access the item.

 

You may recognize that it's the same error I get in #2 of the 'Symptoms' heading in my original post.

 

I went into Safe Mode to try and uninstall it but it wouldn't let me uninstall it - it said it has to be done in regular mode (or something like that)

 

I wonder if gasoline and matches would fix the problem...



#4 dc3

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 04:08 PM

After following the steps through #7 you restarted the computer, correct?  And this didn't resolve the issue?


Family and loved ones will always be a priority in my daily life.  You never know when one will leave you.

 

 

 

 


#5 domiflichi

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 04:39 PM

Yes, I restarted. Correct - issue not resolved yet.



#6 domiflichi

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Posted 08 February 2018 - 07:57 AM

I'm closing this thread.

 

After hours and hours of scouring the Internet and trying many many different things I decided to cut my losses (way too late) and just blow away the hard drive and install Windows 10 from scratch. Needless to say everything is working great.

 

I still have a feeling that something happened to the security/permissions of my file system, but I guess I'll never know.

 

Thank you all for reading and thank you even more dc3 for helping out.

Until next time. ;)



#7 dc3

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Posted 08 February 2018 - 09:15 AM

One of the down sides to receiving help here rather than taking your computer to a repair shop is that getting scans run and reported takes more time that it would take if I had the computer in front of me and would be able to run the scans comparatively fast.  But having said that, occasionally it is much quicker and easier just to bite the bullet as you did and get it over.  I hope the future with your computer is uncomplicated.


Family and loved ones will always be a priority in my daily life.  You never know when one will leave you.

 

 

 

 


#8 EddoX

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 11:00 AM

I'm closing this thread.

 

After hours and hours of scouring the Internet and trying many many different things I decided to cut my losses (way too late) and just blow away the hard drive and install Windows 10 from scratch. Needless to say everything is working great.

 

I still have a feeling that something happened to the security/permissions of my file system, but I guess I'll never know.

 

Thank you all for reading and thank you even more dc3 for helping out.

Until next time. ;)

 

When you erased the hard drive and started from scratch, did you reinstall your files? I did the same thing this week and used "Bounceback-18" to make a backup image.  When I tried to restore my files in my own admin directory (C:\users\Ed), I got an access is denied error due to permissions and I could not restore them. So, I'm interested in getting a different backup software. Would you recommend a better software for backup and restore to a different machine?  (this is probably a new topic so I will post it)



#9 dc3

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 02:30 PM

When you erased the hard drive and started from scratch, did you reinstall your files? I did the same thing this week and used "Bounceback-18" to make a backup image.  When I tried to restore my files in my own admin directory (C:\users\Ed), I got an access is denied error due to permissions and I could not restore them. So, I'm interested in getting a different backup software. Would you recommend a better software for backup and restore to a different machine?  (this is probably a new topic so I will post it)

 

https://www.macrium.com/reflectfree


Family and loved ones will always be a priority in my daily life.  You never know when one will leave you.

 

 

 

 


#10 domiflichi

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 11:01 AM

Edwardj51,

 

There are a lot of good free backup programs out there. The one that I use is Cobian Backup. But I actually didn't use a backup program when I backed up my data for this. I was trying a few free file synchronization tools: Microsoft SyncToy, FreeFileSync, Allway Sync, and SyncBack.



#11 zebop55

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Posted 04 March 2018 - 10:02 PM

I'm experiencing the exact same problem.

 

After spending a lot of time watching You Tube videos and trying various recommended fixed (same as the OP), I'm gritting my teeth and considering resetting Windows 10 and hoping that fixes the issue.  If that doesn't work, well, am I too old to curl up in a ball and suck my thumb while weeping uncontrollably?  :unsure:

 

My best guess is this problem started around the time I installed a free version of Avast anit-spyware.  Never had problems with it before, but maybe this time it didn't play nicely after the trial period expired because I've been hosed ever since.  Click on Cortana, the calendar, Edge, calculator and nada.  

 

So I made a fresh backup, made a list of every program I installed and I'm  just about ready to take the plunge and reset 10, count three and pray. 

 

But first I think I'll try some of the suggestions made by Bleeping Treehugger.  Can't  hurt, right?   I'm still open to any suggestions though.

 

To be continued....


Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy. ~Joseph Campbell




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