How to Make Windows Troubleshoot Your PC Problems for You
The Windows Control Panel includes a variety of “troubleshooters” designed to quickly diagnose and automatically solve various computer problems. Troubleshooters can’t fix everything, but they’re a great place to start if you encounter a problem with your computer.
Troubleshooters are built into the Control Panel on Windows 10, 8, and 7, so practically all Windows users can take advantage of them.
Find the Troubleshooters
To find the troubleshooters, first, open the Control Panel. Click “System and Security” and then click “Troubleshoot Common Computer Problems” under Security and Maintenance. On Windows 7, click “Find and Fix Problems” instead.
You’ll see a list of the most common troubleshooters you might need.
- Recording Audio: Scans for problems that can prevent microphone audio recording from working.
- Program Comparability Troubleshooter: Helps you choose the best compatibility settings for running programs designed for older versions of Windows.
- Playing Audio: Scans for problems that can prevent sound from playing properly.
- Network Adapter: Finds and fixes issues with your Wi-Fi adapter or other network adapters.
- Internet Explorer Safety: Identifies settings that can cause security and privacy problems in Internet Explorer and fixes them.
- Internet Explorer Performance: Identifies problems that can slow down Internet Explorer and fixes them.
- Printer: Checks for and fixes problems with printers and printing.
- Internet Connections: Detects and fixes problems with your Internet connection and loading websites.
- Incoming Connections: Checks if the Windows Firewall is blocking incoming connections you need and help you unblock them.
- Hardware and Devices: Checks your computer for issues with hardware devices. If a hardware device–particularly a recently installed one–isn’t working properly, this troubleshooter can find and fix problems with hardware detection and drivers.
- Background Intelligent Transfer Service: Finds and fixes problems with the Background Intelligent Transfer Service, which Windows Update and some other services use for background downloads.
- System Maintenance: Finds and fixes broken shortcuts and performs and system maintenance tasks, including checking if your clock is the correct time.
- Video Playback: Detects problems that can prevent videos from playing back properly and fixes them.
- Windows Media Player DVD: Fixes issues that can prevent DVDs from playing in Windows Media Player.
- Search and Indexing: Fixes problems with Windows Search and the indexer.
- Windows Media Player Library: Fixes issues with Windows Media Player’s media library.
- Home Group: Looks for problems with your HomeGroup network and file-sharing settings.
- Windows Media Player Settings: Fixes issues with Windows Media Player’s settings.
- Power: Identifies and fixes problems with power settings to increase your computer’s battery life.
- Windows Store Apps: Repairs problems that can prevent Windows Store apps–in other words, Windows 10’s new Universal Windows Platform apps–from working properly.
- Shared Folders: Identifies issues that can prevent shared network folders from functioning.
- Windows Update: Identifies and fixes issues that can cause Windows Update to not work at all, or fail to install some updates.
Microsoft is also adding a “Windows Activation” troubleshooter in Windows 10’s Anniversary Update. It will help fix issues with Windows Activation and suggest solutions.
How to Run a Troubleshooter
To run a troubleshooter, just click it in the Troubleshooting pane. To quickly find a relevant troubleshooter, you can perform a search from the Troubleshooting window.
The troubleshooter will launch after you click it. Just click “Next” to begin troubleshooting.
Most troubleshooters will run automatically, looking for problems and fixing any issues they find. To prevent the troubleshooter from automatically making changes to your system, click the “Advanced” link at the bottom left the corner of the troubleshooter window and uncheck the “Apply Repairs Automatically” option. You’ll be prompted with more information before the troubleshooter makes any changes to your system.
While most troubleshooters run automatically, some troubleshooters will give you options you need to click. For example, the Program Compatibility troubleshooter will walk you through choosing a program that isn’t working properly and changing its compatibility settings. The Incoming Connections troubleshooter will ask you what you’re trying to do so it know what type of incoming connection to troubleshoot.
That’s about it. There isn’t a troubleshooter for every issue you’ll encounter, and the troubleshooters that do exist won’t be able to fix every problem. But troubleshooters are a good place to start when you encounter a problem with something.