Sometimes a Windows 10 system starts misbehaving to the point where repair is needed. This often takes the form of worsening performance or stability, and can originate from damage to, loss of, or corruption of Windows system files typically found in the
C:Windows folder hierarchy. When that happens, users would be well advised to break out the following routine to help them set things back to rights.
I initially wrote this story in 2016, but as Windows 10 has evolved over time, some of the steps have changed a bit. I’ve now updated it for the latest versions of Windows 10. That said, most of these approaches also work with Windows 7 and 8 (with slight variations), and the advice here applies almost identically to Windows 11, which Microsoft is gradually rolling out to Windows 10 users whose hardware can support the new OS via Windows Update from October 2021 into early 2022.
The Windows 10 (or 11) repair drill
The idea is to first try the initial step in the sequence. If that doesn’t fix what’s broken, advance to the next step. Keep working through the steps in order until you reach the end, and you are bound to fix the vast majority of problems. (The only remaining step at that point would be to replace the system on which the software is running, and that’s outside the scope of this story.)
The amount of time and effort required for each step goes up incrementally. Some steps involve additional work to restore the prior state of your PC more or less back to where it was prior to taking that step. Thus, the most important bit of advice I can dispense for those who must venture beyond Step 1 is this: Make a complete backup of your system to provide a source for files and information that might otherwise go missing. Ignore this advice at your own risk.