Product problem solver

Product problem solver

Use our handy problem solver to quickly diagnose problems and find solutions

Problem: There are icons missing from the Taskbar Notification Area.

Solution: First, click the ^ arrow next to the icons that are still visible, to reveal more icons. If the icon you’re looking for is there, drag it on to the notification area of the taskbar and it will stay there permanently from now on. If there’s no sign of the icon at all, right-click on the date and choose Customise Notification Icons. Scroll through the list until you find your icon, then make sure it’s not set to Hide Icon and Notifications. If you find certain icons – the network, volume and power icons, in particular – are missing and only appear after you restart your computer, visit the Microsoft Knowledgebase for a tool that can fix the problem.


Problem: My PC keeps waking up even after I’ve put it to sleep .

Solution: If your PC wakes up more often than an overexcited toddler, it’s probably because a device is set up to bring it out of standby when triggered. You can identify the culprit by pressing the [Win] + [R] keys to open the Run Dialogue Box: type ‘cmd’ and press [Enter]. Now, type the following text: powercfg –devicequery wake_armed and then press [Enter].

Now click 'Start', type ‘device’ into the Search box and click the 'Device Manager' link that appears under Control Panel. Look for any devices listed earlier, then double-click them and look for an Advanced or Power Management tab. Check to see if the device is allowed to bring the computer out of standby – if it is, untick all the boxes that allow it to be woken up. Click 'OK', close Device Manager and test, repeating the process, if necessary, until you’ve found the culprit.


Problem: I think there are some missing or corrupt system files on my PC. How can I verify this isn’t the case?

Solution: The System File Checker (SFC ) tool enables you to scan for – and replace – corrupt and missing files. You can either scan your entire hard drive, or individual files and folders, if you’re getting error messages linked to a specific file. Click the 'Start' button, type ‘cmd’, then right-click 'cmd.exe' and choose Run as Administrator, clicking 'Yes' when prompted, to open a Command Prompt window. If you want to check your entire drive for possible errors, type ‘sfc /scannow’ and press [Enter]. The scan can take some time, but the tool should automatically fix any errors it finds.

If you want to scan and – if necessary – replace individual files, type sfc /SCANFILE=path\filename and press [Enter], replacing path\filename with your chosen file – for example, c:\windows\system32\riched32.dll.


Problem: I can’t get an older program to run in Windows 7.

Solution: Before installing older software, check the program website or type the program name, version number and ‘Windows 7’ into Google to see if there are any issues with it. Avoid installing system software that’s not listed as being compatible with your version of Windows. Other applications such as older versions of Microsoft Office or graphics programs should be fine.

First, try installing the program as normal. If it doesn’t work, Windows 7 might offer to apply compatibility settings to it so see if these work. If the program installs, but won’t run, right-click the program shortcut and choose Properties > Compatibility Settings. Click 'Help me Choose the Settings' to launch the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter, which will hopefully help you to get the program running again.


Problem: My computer is stuck in a restart loop after installing a Windows update.

Solution: If your PC keeps rebooting during the update process, you need to undo the updates using System Restore. Check out our recovery guide and follow the process to undo system changes using System Restore. Picking the recommended Restore point from the list should be enough to get your computer working again.


Problem: System Restore won’t restore

Solution: If System Restore fails to revert your computer to an earlier state when you access the tool from within Windows itself, you might have more success if you try running System Restore from Safe Mode instead.

Restart your PC and keep tapping [F8] until the Advanced Boot Menu appears, then select 'Safe Mode' from the list and run System Restore from there.


Problem: The text on my screen is too small to read comfortably.

Solution: Right-click the desktop and choose 'Personalization', then click the 'Display' link, under See Also. Pick either Medium or Large, read the warning and click 'Apply' to rescale all on-screen text.

Some programs have warnings indicating they may not work properly with the text set larger. You can get around this problem by right-clicking the program shortcut and choosing 'Properties' from the pop-up menu that appears. Switch to the 'Compatibility' tab, then tick 'Disable Display Scaling on High DPI Settings' before clicking 'OK'.


Problem: How do I remove wireless network settings from my computer?

Solution: If you need to delete existing settings for your Wi-Fi network – perhaps you’ve changed router or temporarily connected to another network that you don’t need any more – then click on the wireless icon in the Taskbar Notification Area and click the 'Open Network and Sharing Center' link.

When the Network and Sharing Center opens, choose 'Manage Wireless Networks' from the left-hand pane to view all saved network settings. Click your unwanted network to highlight it, then click the 'Remove' option. A confirmation box will appear and you just need to click 'Yes', to delete the network. You can still re-connect to that network in the future if you want to – all you’ve done is delete your saved settings.


Problem: Double-clicking on a file no longer opens it in the right program.

Solution: If a particular type of file no longer opens in the correct program – for example, a photo or a word processor document – then you can quickly fix the problem. Right-click the file in question and roll the mouse over 'Open' (from the pop-up menu) to reveal a sub-menu. Now, click 'Choose Default Program'.

A window with a list of recognised programs will appear – if your chosen program is there, choose it from the list. Make sure 'Always use the Selected Program to Open this Kind of File', is ticked and click 'Next'.

If you can’t see the program, click the 'Browse' button to find it. Look in the Program Files and Program Files (x86) folders for the program you’re looking for. Once you’ve found it, click 'OK', as before.


Problem: Something is stuck in my print queue and I can’t print anything else.

Solution: The print queue shows which documents are lined up to be printed. You can see this by clicking the 'Start' menu and selecting 'Devices and Printers' to see a list of the various hardware devices attached to your PC. Highlight your printer by clicking it, then click 'See What’s Printing', to view exactly what’s in the print queue.

Start by selecting the stuck document, then open the Document menu and choose 'Cancel'. If this doesn’t work, try opening the Printer menu and choosing 'Cancel all Documents' instead. If this doesn’t work, close all the windows you’ve opened, then click the flag icon in the Taskbar Notification Area, and select 'Open Action Center', from the pop-up window that appears.

Click the 'Troubleshooting' link and then choose 'Use a Printer' (under Hardware and Sound). Follow the instructions in this Troubleshooter, which should be able to resolve the problem for you.


Problem: I’ve got problems reading or writing CDs and DVDs.

Solution: Many disc problems can be traced to third-party disc-burning software. If you’ve recently installed a new program, try removing then reinstalling it, or simply removing it permanently. This doesn’t always solve the problem but luckily there’s a quick and easy fix-it tool from Microsoft that should help.

Accessing it in Windows 7 is simple: click the flag icon in the Taskbar Notification Area, selecting 'Open Action Center', from the pop-up window that appears.
Click the 'Troubleshooting' link, type ‘dvd ’ into the Search box and press [Enter]. After a short pause two results should appear – most people find the 'Playing and Burning CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs' entry is the one that is most likely to resolve the problem.


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