Windows 10 tips
Windows 10 can be troublesome if it isn't used as it would like to be. Here are some tips to help keep things running smoothly.
Windows 10 would like to be on all the time and connected to the Internet. Clearly, this is not always possible, but you can take some steps to help it out.
Avoid having the computer on just for a few minutes at a time. If you switch on, check emails, perhaps a few minutes on Facebook and then switch it off again, Windows never has the opportunity to do its own housekeeping tasks.
If you don't spend long periods at the computer (say, a couple of hours a day), then make sure that you leave it on for at least half a day, a couple of times a month. This will give Windows time to complete its maintenance work – downloading and installing updates, cleaning up old files, indexing new files, for example – and so it will be less likely to slow you down when you need to get things done.
Restarting Windows 10 can often resolve a wide range of problems, from minor glitches in appearance to black screens (but read the Windows Update section before trying to fix a black screen).
Restarting is not the same as shutting down and then switching on the computer. When you click on 'Shut down', Windows remembers a lot of settings and other information about how it was running, so that it can be quicker to start up next time you switch it on. Unfortunately, this means that if something was not quite right last time, it may not be quite right next time.
To correct this, restarting actually switches everything off and starts Windows afresh, checking the hardware and clearing out obsolete information. It will also make sure that any updates that have been downloaded but not yet installed are attended to, so it may take a little longer than usual. Follow the steps in the Restart procedure section to do this.
Most of the problems with scheduled Windows updates fall into two main areas:
- Slow internet connection doesn't allow the download to complete;
- Installing an update may take several hours, often with a black screen and with no indication that it is progressing normally.
There are large parts of rural France that still have very poor internet connection speeds, which means that it may take a couple of hours or more to download some of the bigger update files (perhaps two or three times each year). Usually, Windows is able to resume an interrupted download, but this may not always be possible, for various reasons.
Often, the download can be completed by following advice above (Good practice) and leaving the computer switched on for extended periods at least a couple of times each month. If you are on a very slow connection, that 'extended period' may need to be all day, or even longer.
Alternatively, for laptop users, you could take your computer somewhere with faster access – a friend's house or a cafe with good Wi-Fi, for example – to speed up the download process.
The biggest single cause of 'black screen faults' is not realising that an update is in progress and trying to intervene when it isn't necessary. This is somewhat understandable as it isn't always apparent that things are still working behind that black screen. Being patient and leaving the computer alone for a couple of hours will often be sufficient to resolve the problem, inconvenient as it is.
It's a good idea to find out which of the lights on your computer shows hard drive activity. This is generally a good indicator that the computer is still working on something – if that light is flickering, even occasionally, the update is probably still being applied and you should carry on waiting. (Unfortunately, some newer computers no longer have a hard drive activity light, so this diagnostic tool may not be available to you.)
If the computer still doesn't recover after being left alone, it can be forced to switch off, but this is a risky procedure (it may lead to damaged files or, in extreme cases, a damaged computer).
When the update process has finished normally and the display has returned, wait a further few minutes for all the normal screen elements to show (background picture, icons on the Desktop, toolbar and icons at the bottom of the screen). You will usually see a notification towards the bottom right of the screen advising that an update has been applied when everything is up and running. Avoid using the computer for those few minutes, until the screen is normal.
Even after a trouble-free update installation, it is useful to restart the computer, following the steps in Restart procedure below. This ensures that updated files are properly applied and that Windows is running at its best.
You can perform a restart either from within Windows (after logging in) or from the Login screen (where you enter your password or PIN).
Logged in to Windows
If you are already in Windows:
- Click on the Menu button, the icon at the bottom left of the screen;
- In the menu window, click on the Power icon, found at the bottom of the left column;
- Click on the Restart option.
After starting the computer, click the mouse or tap a key on the keyboard to go from the initial picture screen to the Login screen. On the Login screen:
- Click on the Power icon at the bottom right of the screen;
- Click on the Restart option.
In either case, allow a little longer than usual for the computer to start up. If updates have been downloaded and are ready to be applied, they will be installed during the restart so you may need to allow time for that, too.