So you finally upgraded to Windows 10, only to discover your installation is broken. The Start menu is not working, apps are not opening or crashing, and an assortment of error messages are popping up on screen. This is becoming a common issue for many users. The upgrade process, especially on older installations is a complex procedure. Outdated applications or incompatible drivers can be a contributing factor, resulting in an unstable installation. Before you take the easy route out and rollback, here are some things you can try repair your broken Windows 10 installation.
Fix a Broken Windows 10 installation
Incompatible applications are a common reason why Windows 10 installations might be broken after upgrading. Users have reported being unable to open the Start menu, or the desktop will flicker, antivirus utilities are notorious for this. You can try uninstalling them, then reinstall a compatible version or switch to the built-in Windows Defender.
If the Start menu is inaccessible after an upgrade, press Windows key + X then click Programs and Features, select your incompatible Antivirus utility then uninstall it. You can also open the Run command, press Windows key + R then type: appwiz.cpl then hit Enter. If you are unable to load Control Panel, try accessing the recovery environment, then boot into Safe Mode.
If the Windows desktop fails to load at all, then there might be an even more complex issue such as an incompatible display driver. Applications and drivers such as Apple’s iCloud and IDT audio can also prevent the desktop from loading.
You can isolate these problems by uninstalling them, then install the latest versions. Press Control + Alt + Del on your keyboard, click Sign Out. At the sign-in screen, hold down the Shift key on your keyboard, click the power button, then click Restart. Keep holding down the Power button while Windows 10 loads the recovery environment. Click Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart. Press the number 4 key to load Safe Mode.
Log into your account then proceed to uninstall the following:
- Apple iCloud Control Panel
- Display drivers – press Windows key + X > Device Manager > expand Display adapters, right-click your display adapter, then click uninstall.
- IDT audio if installed – from Device Manager, expand Sound, video, and game controllers, right click IDT High Definition Audio Codec then click uninstall.
When complete, restart in normal mode, then install a compatible antivirus or enable the built-in Windows Defender. Proceed to update drivers for your display and audio driver.
If the Windows 10 desktop is accessible, but the system behaves erratically, it is possible system files might be damaged. You can use the Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool to correct corrupted system files and determine the status of the PC.
Corrupt User Profile
Another common issue you might encounter after upgrading is a corrupt user profile. When this occurs, Windows 10 will load a temporary profile. Usually, panic ensues, but there is often little need to worry, your files and applications are still there. Sometimes restarting a few times will resolve the problem, or you will need to create a new user account then copy over your files. Your corrupt user account can be found under C:\Users. You might need to take ownership of the folder, then recover your data.
If your modern apps refuse to open, you might need to update them. Launch the Windows Store then check for Updates. Learn more about installing and updating Windows Store apps. If the Windows Store refuses to open, launch Windows Update then checks for the latest updates. If the problem persists, then try running the Windows Store troubleshooter. Press Windows key + Q then type: troubleshooting then hit Enter.
Type windows store in the search box then click the result to start the troubleshooter. Follow the on-screen instructions to resolve to resolve the problem.
The Windows 10 Recovery Environment includes a Startup Repair option, which can be used to resolve issues with Windows Startup or behavior. You can access it multiple ways, from the desktop, click Start > Settings > Update & security > Recovery, under Advanced startup, click Restart now.
If you are unable to load the Windows desktop, at the sign-in screen, hold down the shift key on your keyboard, click the Power button, then click Restart. Keep holding down the Shift key while Windows 10 loads the recovery environment.
Click Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Repair
If Windows does not load at all, then you can try using your Windows 10 install media to access the recovery environment. Boot from your Windows 10 install DVD or USB media, at the Install screen, click Repair your computer
If you can successfully access the recovery environment, wait while Windows loads the Startup repair mode.
Click your account name.
Enter your password.
Wait while Windows 10 attempts to fix the problem. When complete, Windows will restart your computer.
If you have exhausted all the above, and Windows 10 does not improve instability; then the next option you might want to attempt is a repair upgrade. A repair upgrade is reinstalling Windows 10 without deleting your installed applications and personal files. The process will refresh broken system files.
- Download the latest Windows 10 ISO file.
- Double-click the ISO file to mount it.
- Launch setup, then follow the on-screen wizard, choose the option to Keep personal files, apps, and settings.
- Click Next to begin the installation.
I have seen this resolve issues with modern apps not launching, Windows components such as the .NET Framework not installing. The Windows 10 Anniversary Update offers the option to perform a fresh install removing bundled OEM Software and Drivers. You can use this as a last resort if a repair upgrade does not work.