Here's how to fix all Windows error messages

Admittedly, Microsoft has created a stable operating system with Windows 10. That does not mean that the OS does run into problems every now and then, due to faulty hardware, outdated drivers, corrupt system files or whatever. We will deal with the most persistent problems or typical Windows error messages and of course also provide solutions!

1 Beep and LED codes

My pc does nothing more than blink leds and beeps. What now?

Like any other day, you turn on your PC, but in vain this time. You can't get more than a few beeps or some LED flickering out of your system. A small consolation: Windows itself can't be the cause, because it hasn't even had a chance to start up. So you have to look for the problem earlier in the boot process: beep and LED codes typically come from the so-called POST (power-on self-test), a part of your system bios. To find out exactly what's going on, it's best to look it up in the manual of your motherboard or system, or consult the website of the manufacturer of your computer or your BIOS. Press Windows Key+R and enter msinfo32 for more information about your bios. You will probably find the meaning of the beep or LED codes in the manual or online. You can google beep codes or led codes, in combination with the make or model of your computer. This site is also useful. In practice, it often turns out to be memory problems and taking it out and firmly replacing the ram modules can help.

2 Low CMOS Battery

What should I do if my PC only displays a Low CMOS Battery error?

For an error message like Low CMOS Battery or CMOS Data/Time not set we have to exonerate Windows again. That has everything to do with the memory chip that, by the grace of a battery, saves some startup data for the benefit of your system bios. As a result, some settings are no longer correct, causing the PC to refuse to boot. Or your PC will start up, but your system time is constantly wrong. The latter can also have consequences while surfing: you may then see messages like Security certificate expired or not valid. That's because your browser relies on your – wrong – system time to assess the validity of the SSL certificate.

The solution is almost always to replace the cmos battery. In most cases, it is a CR2032 button cell battery. First, consult the manual for your system: it will tell you where to find the battery and how to replace it exactly. First, disconnect the power cable from your PC.

3 Incorrect boot medium

My computer says no operating system is found, what went wrong here?

After the bios has done its job, it's the turn of the master boot record, your operating system's boot code. But even at this stage something can go wrong. If a message appears indicating that certain data is missing from the boot medium, first check the bios settings, paying particular attention to the boot order. It may refer to an erroneous bootable media rather than your system drive.

Does that setting appear to be correct but the problem persists, often with messages like Missing operating system, Error loading operating system, No operating system found, BOOTMGR is missing or An error occurred while attempting to read the boot configuration data (or in a Dutch version), then the boot record of your disk may have been damaged, for example after an incorrect installation or (re)partitioning. See further question 4.

4 No OS

What should I do if my computer's master boot record is corrupted?

You can usually recover a damaged boot record using the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE). Boot your computer with the Windows 10 installation DVD or installation stick (here's how to create an installation stick). Choose your language and keyboard layout and then choose Your computerto recover. It attempts to repair the damaged boot media. If this doesn't work, you can still try it manually, if you don't have much chance that it will work. But that's how it works: choose for Resolving problems / Advanced options, after which you put the Command Prompt opens and you run the command bcdboot x:\windows /l en-nl (or nl-be for Dutch-Belgium). Replace here X: by the correct drive letter of your Windows partition. It's not necessarily c:, even though it might be with a normal reboot. You can still find the correct letter with a trick: enter the command . on the command line notepad off and choose File / Open, then find out which drive contains the \Windows folder (with the typical Windows files). That's the drive letter you need. Some time after executing this command, hopefully a message like: 'Bootfiles successfully created' will appear, after which you can start Windows normally again.

5 Dynamic link library

I get the message that a dll file is missing. Can I just download a file with the same name?

A dll, or dynamic-link library, is a shared file that several programs can call to perform a specific action. Dlls are normally built into Windows, so not every program needs to provide its own method to run something on the system. Do you get a message like: “The program cannot start because […].dll is missing from your computer”? Then the inclination might be to immediately google the missing dll file and put it on your system, in the \Windows\System32 folder.

But how sure are you that it is an up-to-date version and that it does not contain malware, for example? Try to solve such a problem in a different way first. Reinstall the complaining application first, it might fix your problem right away. Or return to a system restore point from a time when the application was still working without any problems: press Windows+R and enter rstrui from.

If it still does not work, check whether the drivers that probably have something to do with the application, such as the display adapter, printer or network card, are up-to-date (see also question 11). A check of the system files may also be useful (see question 6).

6 Weird Locks

My Explorer sometimes suddenly shuts down, and sometimes Windows even shuts down completely. Do I need to reinstall Windows now?

One or more programs suddenly stop working without much explanation, or worse: Windows suddenly gives up at different times. There is a real chance that you then have to deal with a damaged system file. In this case, it's best to use the built-in System File Checker to find the culprit. First, open Command Prompt as administrator. Now enter dism.exe /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth from. This can take a long time, up to twenty minutes. This command uses the Windows Update feature to fix identified errors. If it doesn't work because the Windows Update client itself is already damaged, you should use a working Windows installation as a repair source. This can be done by entering the following parameters after the stated command: /source:c:\recoverysource\Windows /limitaccess, where you c:\recovery source\Windows replaces it with the location of your repair source, for example a Windows DVD/USB stick. Then you run the command sfc /scannow scans all protected system files and replaces corrupted copies with a cache file.

7 Station unreachable

My external hard drive is no longer shown in Explorer, is the drive broken?

Does one of your (external) disks no longer show up in Explorer, so that you can no longer access the data? This does not necessarily mean that the disk is broken. First check whether the disk is still (physically) recognized in the Windows Disk Management. To do this, press Windows + R and enter diskmgmt.msc from. Check here to see if you can find the drive and if it has a drive letter assigned to it. If you see it in the overview but without a drive letter, right click on the drive and choose Change drive letters and paths, Press Add, select a suitable letter and confirm with OK.

Does your drive have an icon with an arrow on a red background, including the indication Unknown and Not initialized, then apparently your disk's file management has become messed up, so that it appears as if it is no longer properly partitioned and formatted. Then try plugging the drive into a different port, or better yet, connecting it to another computer in the hopes that you can still access your files that way, after which you can repartition the drive if necessary.

8 Blue screen on crash

Help, my computer gives such a strange blue screen and then shuts down!

It has traditionally been one of the most dreaded error messages: a so-called BSOD, blue screen of death. It will show a laconic message like: "There is a problem with this computer and it needs to be restarted", along with a cryptic stop code like "driver_irql_not_less_or_equal" or "page_fault_in_nonpaged_area". If you bump into such a 'blue screen' once, it does not have to be disastrous: often a restart is sufficient and you are further protected from that disaster.

If BSODs occur regularly, this requires further investigation. The problem is that there are a whole series of stop codes and that each can have various causes, take a look at the list of codes on this microsoft page. If such a BSOD occurs, try writing down its code. Then go here and follow Microsoft's support steps. It tries to find a cause and to propose a solution through targeted questions.

Very often such a blue screen is caused by poor or insufficient memory or by a corrupt or defective driver (see also question 11). Or maybe you recently added or changed hardware and something went wrong. In the latter case, if possible, try to use the PC without that hardware. If you don't know what could go wrong, search the internet for the stop code listed. There is a good chance that you will find the culprit this way. Furthermore, Windows should make a 'minidump' of the memory when a BSOD occurs. Check whether Windows is set up correctly: you will find the necessary instructions here. If a BSOD occurs after this, you can download and start the free tool BlueScreenView after restarting. It will read the minidump so that you get some more information about the error. You probably still need the help of Google to find out exactly what you can do, use the Bug check code in your search.

9 Sudden Lockups

My computer freezes and becomes unresponsive, a reboot is the only thing that seems to help. What can I do about this?

Windows (or any other application that crashes) isn't very lenient here: your system freezes or reboots, without giving you any information about what exactly went wrong. Difficult, because the possible causes are countless. Taking the memory modules out and putting them back in can solve the problem, but it could just as well have to do with dust accumulation in your system case or the fans. An overclocked cpu or gpu can also cause an unstable system. If it is the same program each time, remove it from your system and then install the program again.

If that doesn't help, check that the memory is working properly. This is possible with the built-in Memory Checker. Go to it Control Panel and choose successively System and Security / Administrative Tools / Windows Memory Check / Restart now and troubleshoot (recommended).

10 Access denied

I'm trying to open a folder, but Windows tells me I don't have enough permissions. Even if I'm logged in as administrator. How do I get to it?

Right-click the folder in the Explorer and choose Characteristics. Open the tab Security and press Advanced. At the top you can read who is the owner of this folder. Chances are you're here Can't view current owner is reading. click on Modify and fill in Enter the names of the objects your own account in or of a group like Administrators. Press Check names to verify that Windows recognizes the name. Confirm with OK and open the advanced security settings window again. Place a checkmark Replace owner of child containers and objects and confirm again with OK.

You can also take ownership as administrator from the command prompt. This is done with the following two commands:

takeown /f "path_to_folder" /r /d y

icacls "path_to_folder" /grant administrators:F /T

Of course, replace "path_to_folder" with the full path to the grumpy folder.

11 Unknown device

I reinstalled Windows, but now my wireless network card doesn't work anymore. It worked just fine before the reinstall. How do I get him to talk again?

You have installed Windows neatly, but certain hardware or functions do not appear to work (optimally). When you bring up the Device Manager (press Windows key + R and enter devmgmt.msc off) then you will notice the 'device type' Unknown device on. This immediately means that Windows could not install the appropriate driver. In this case, right-click the device and select Characteristics. Open the tab Details and choose Hardware IDs in the drop-down menu. One or more text strings will now appear in which you usually enter the Vendor ID (VEN or VID), as well as the Device id (THE V or DID), the Class Code (CC) and the Revision (REV).

Initially, google the top – most detailed – id: there is a good chance that you will be directed to a site with the appropriate driver. If the search does not yield useful results, try with a shorter, less detailed id. By the way, there is also a free tool that makes searching for the hardware IDs a bit easier: Unknown Device Identifier. It not only gives you the hardware IDs, but also tells you who the manufacturer is and possibly even which device it is. Through the menu Drivers / finddriver the program then immediately passes on a suitable search query to Google.

12 Update error

Windows occasionally gives error messages, and recently I saw the error code 0x80070057. No more updates will be installed either. What to do?

Error 0x80070057 has been popping up since Windows XP and numerous users have already seen this error message. It usually indicates a problem with the Windows update service and is often accompanied by messages such as "The parameter is incorrect" or "Unknown error". You can give it a try by running the built-in System File Checker (sfc /scannow: see question 6). If that doesn't help, press Windows key + R and run %systemroot% and you'll find the subfolder SoftwareDistribution renames to something like SoftwareDistributionOUD. Restart your PC and see if the problem is solved.

Still not? Then take the registry editor: press Windows key + R and enter regedit from. Open the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsUpdate\UX. Double click on IsConvergedUpdateStackEnabled and set the value to 0. Do the same for the parameter UxOption in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsUpdate\UX\Settings. Close the registry editor and restart your PC. That should do it.

13 In use

Why can't I delete a folder in my Documents folder?

It may happen that a certain program can no longer be opened or that a file cannot be removed. It can also happen that an application complains that a certain program is still running even though you have closed it. Then first check via the Task Manager whether the (mentioned) application is actually no longer active: press Ctrl+Shift+Esc and click on More details. View the list: if the process or application is still active, right-click on it and choose To end.

If that doesn't work, restart your PC and see if the problem is now resolved. If necessary, start Windows in so-called safe mode. You can read more about this here. After all, it cannot be ruled out that the application or process is automatically started during the (normal) startup of Windows.

Don't let a file get deleted, try it with the free LockHunter tool. Download that tool and run it as administrator. Refer to the grumpy file here: LockHunter tells you which process is holding it in its grip. Right click the process and choose Unlock Selected Process or possibly Terminate Selected Process.

14 Documents in the queue

What can I do if my printer no longer wants to print my documents?

First check whether everything is OK in terms of hardware: are the cables connected, is the printer on, is there paper and ink in the printer? If that's all right, open the Institutions from Windows and choose here Devices / Printers and Scanners. Select your printer, choose Open Queue and delete all documents.

If it is not possible to roll out the prints with a new print job in this way, you must reset the print spooler. Press Windows Key+R and run services.msc. Scroll to Print Spooler and click on the top left Fuses. Navigate with Explorer to C:\Windows\system32\spool\printers and delete all files from this folder. Go to the Services module again and click Print Spooler on Start the service. Restart your PC: the problem should now be gone.

15 Stick unusable?

How do I get a USB stick to work that refuses to work?

USB sticks and SD cards are very handy, but unfortunately also quite prone to errors. It has already happened to many that a card or stick is no longer accessible and that Windows indicates that it must be reformatted. Or even more: that Windows still refuses to reformat. Bad news: you have most likely lost your data.

In order to be able to use the stick again, you can usually get started with some complex commands from the command line command diskpart (more information can be found here). But it can be done much easier and more effective: with the free SD Card Formatter tool. This program is available for Windows and macOS. Don't let the name of the tool mislead you: it works just as well for USB sticks. The operation is very simple: put the card or stick in your PC, start the tool as administrator and select the correct medium. late (at least initially) Quick format selected, enter a name and press the button format. Confirm that any data on the media may be deleted. If the quick method doesn't work, use the more elaborate but slower way.

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