Windows 8.1, Microsoft’s new operating system, is not without flaws. Many of the issues relate to the confusing interface but some are indicative of deeper problems. Windows 8 has bugs. Which, to many users, is probably not a surprise.

Fortunately however, like Microsoft’s preceding OS, there are solutions. Microsoft is a company moving forwards and it does not want unhappy customers or bad consumer reviews. Many of the initial problems facing Windows 8 can be fixed, making your experience on the OS much smoother and less stressful.

Windows 8.1 Problems#1 – The Start Menu

The main problem reported by users of the OS is the missing start menu. Obviously an integral part to using the software this problem was initially surrounded by rumors. It transpires though that Microsoft have done away with the start menu in favor of an “App view” which functions in pretty much the same way.

However for those familiar with Windows it was the loss of a familiar friend that bugged them. Fortunately for those users there are third party solutions that can resurrect that missing Start Menu in Windows 8. If a user installs one of those substitutes then it’s possible to completely circumvent and eventually forget the Metro interface. If you do this, make sure you set Windows 8.1 to boot directly to your desktop .

#2 – Explorer.exe Does its Own Thing

After installing a brand new version of the OS some users reported error messages reading, “Windows Explorer has stopped working.” This is not a one-time problem, instead it’s a recurring one that makes using the software pretty infuriating.

This problem seems to derive from a bug between the OS and a hardware driver of installed software. The problem usually comes from the hardware driver however – just a note for those looking to troubleshoot.

The problem is fixable and for those needing a solution here’s one. You’ll need to use the “Refresh my PC” feature.

To do this, follow these steps:

  • Go to settings > ‘change PC settings’ > ‘update and recovery > recovery
  • Click on ‘get started’ under ‘refresh your PC without affecting files’

Effectively this will reinstall Windows. It will keep all of your files but it’s a good idea to make sure that everything is backed up prior to embarking on these steps.

#3 – Svchost.exe Malware Hogs Your Processor’s Performance

Svchost.exe is a normal Windows process, but a malware version (using the normal process as a ‘disguise’) can start consuming processor cycles. This leads to a sluggish computer and often it eventually forces your PC to crash.

Knowing that many PC users will have encountered svchost.exe before there is an assumption that they will not consider it a virus. Download some free anti-virus software and make sure your computer is not infected.

If the problem does not stem from malware, there are other solutions that could solve the issue. Another potential root of the trouble is the Windows uPNP (universal plug-and-play) service, which scans your home network for compatible devices. The service however can get out of control, scanning continuously and using up resources until there are none left.

Here’s a solution:

  • Carry out a Windows search for the Network and Sharing Center and open it
  • Go to Advanced Sharing Settings and turn Network Discovery off.

There are some programs that are incompatible with svchost.exe. Those programs may install services that make svchost.exe run amok. Often the culprits include anti-virus apps, backup apps and networking utilities. To solve the problem try uninstalling any software that you have recently installed – it’s common to find that issues appear following any new installation as software can be incompatible with certain Windows processes or other software you have installed.

It’s normal for svchost.exe to consume resources on your PC, this includes periodic spikes and looking for a solution is only necessary if it’s using a significant percentage of your processor’s power.

#4 – Multiple Copies of the Same Files

Windows has an impressive backup utility that has file history functionality built in. The backup program can detect if a file has been altered and it will back it up automatically whilst retaining the old one. This means that if you altered something in error you can return to the previous version.

Obviously this is a great feature, but it doesn’t always function as it should. Instead some users have reported that the OS is backing up new versions of files that have not been modified. This leads to a hard drive full to capacity of redundant files, which is of course a huge headache.

This problem however does not have such a clear solution. This issue is widely reported but there is not an exact cause or reason defined as of yet. Arguably the best way forward to negate this problem is to disable the default back up service. Using a third party service instead seems to be a good solution and it’s worth just avoiding the Window’s 8 back up feature.

#5 – Windows is Always There

Another recurring problem for many users is Windows staying on, not going to sleep or staying asleep. Clearly putting Windows to sleep is a great way to save on energy bills but sometimes the OS just refuses. This is usually triggered by background process’ that prevent the device from sleeping.

To check what devices might be interfering with your PC’s sleep cycle open the command line (search on your PC for “cmd.”) Then, into the command line, type powercfg –devicequery wake_armed.

Now that you have a list in front of you open Device Manager and track down each component. Right click on each one and open its properties. Go, then, to the Power Management Tab. Once there you’ll see a checkbox next to “allow this device to wake the computer.” Uncheck that box and do this same process for all the devices, one by one, and after each one attempt to put your computer to sleep. It’s a potentially laborious process, but work through it via trial and error and you should resolve the problem.

However if that does not work it could well be another problem. This might be caused by Windows Update and to double check do a Windows search and open the Action Center and enter the Maintenance section. In that menu click “change maintenance settings” and uncheck the box next to “allow scheduled maintenance to wake up my computer.” You can also choose to allow your computer to re schedule the maintenance process for a time that suits you.

#6 – Explorer.exe Appears Blank

This is a problem that occurs when the computer boots on. A mysterious blank window has been greeting users who have in turn been reporting the problem. The window is in the shape of the Explorer.exe pop up but it has no text and an OK button.

This problem has a variety of potential causes; however, regardless of the origins the root issue remains the same; an erroneous load value in the registry. To troubleshoot this do a Windows search for “regedit.” This will open the Registry Editor. Use it to find the Windows registry folder and once there look for an entry called Load. This may or may not have data linked to it. Delete the entry and the blank box will stop appearing.

Note: only enter and edit the registry if you consider yourself to be an advanced user, as deleting the wrong entry can cause Windows to become corrupted and therefore unworkable. This will mean a new installation of the OS will have to be carried out and you may lose important data.

#7 – The Blue Screen of Death

Windows 8.1 Bluescreen of DeathThe BSOD is a fabled Windows favorite and one that has plagued every version of Microsoft’s OS, as well as producing a plethora of jokes from the tech support community. This is especially the case with Windows 8, as the screen is now a lot ‘friendlier’ than it has been in the past.

There are many reasons for this problem to occur but perhaps the most common message that accompanies the blue screen is the dreaded “DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL.” Effectively this message is informing users that Windows has crashed due to a problem with a driver.

If you read the additional text that appears with this message you may be able to determine what driver is causing the issue. However, since the PC will automatically restart when the message appears you may not manage to read it all in time, you can find the BSOD error dumps and check there.

To find them go to:

  • C:/Windows/Minidump folder

For the average user reading through this folder will not be a simple task however, it’s commonly caused by AvastSvc.exe, which is associated with Avast anti-virus software updates and with the help of the Windows community , it can be fixed.

You will need to upgrade the drivers regardless of the cause of your problem. If your computer keeps having the same problem even after all the trouble shooting there may be a problem with your hardware. You’ll need to replace the offending part if this is the case, unfortunately. However, be aware that it’s often caused by software and if you’re not computer literate, then visit your local PC repair store.

#8 – Activation Error

Online activation is required to verify that your version of the OS is legitimate; however, some users have experienced difficulties when upgrading from Windows 7. Basically the code from Windows 7 gets “stuck” and since it belongs to Windows 7 and not Windows 8, the activation fails.

The solution to this problem involved the command line. Do a Windows search for “cmd” and make sure you have the correct privileges, you may have to right click and select “Run as administrator.”

Then, type these commands:

  • slmgr.vbs /ipk XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX
  • slmgr.vbs /ato

Substitute the x characters for your Windows 8 product key and your activation should now be successful.

#9 – Unclear Text

Windows 8 has another problem when it comes to displaying text. Many users have reported that some programs are displayed poorly on their monitors. This often is due to the software in question being older and designed for screens with a much lower resolution. Often the Windows OS will attempt to upscale the software to a higher resolution. Not everyone is happy with the blurry results however.

To turn this feature off, right click on a programs executable file. From there go to the Compatibility option and tick the box for “Disable display scaling on high DPI settings.” After that restart the program.

The problem may also be with icons and general text. To solve these issues simply scale the Windows UI. To do this carry out a Windows search forDisplay and in the menu, change the UI to a larger or smaller scale. There is an option to customize text scaling with the “set custom text size” link.

That’s It!

Hopefully this guide was helpful and ideally you’ll be troubleshooting all of your problems successfully. Perhaps this guide will help your Windows 8 experience be much more enjoyable. We’d recommend that if you’re still using Windows 8, you upgrade to 8.1 at your earliest convenience for a better PC experience.

Are there any we’ve missed? Please add any other problems or solutions you’ve found in your experience using Windows 8.1 in the comments below. We’d love your feedback!

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William Thompson is the Marketing Manager at Power Admin, a server monitoring software business in the Kansas City area. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter. William has been a professional in website design, digital marketing and 3D/graphic design for over 20 years.

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58 Responses to 9 Common Problems in Windows 8.1

  1. Ann Marie says:

    If I take suggestion 2, I lose all of my applications. Some of which I will have no way to reinstall. It keeps your personal files but none of your applications. It's very frustrating.

  2. Gary says:

    2 Desktops. On one the upgrade from Windows 8 pro to Windows 8.1 pro went fine. No problems. The other desktop after upgrade, “Windows Store” does not load. I’ve been looking for solutions to this issue for 3 months. I’m hoping “Update 1” will fix it.

  3. Rachel says:

    Problems with 8.1 how do you fix a problem when you log into your computer and all the screen does is flash on and off. the screen does not seem to want to start

  4. Hi Rachel,

    You might check out this resource for more help:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/answers/id-1916110/windows-logs-black-screen-moving-cursor.html

    If that doesn’t work, scroll towards the bottom and check out “Related resources” for other similar problems and see if anyone is having the same issue.

  5. […] though it involves a lot of sifting through the dross, so here’s a convenient list for users of Windows 8 or RT devices. The best part is they’re all […]

  6. SYED TAYYAB says:

    I have encounter a new problem while using window 8.1.
    when i am using my PC it suddenly stuck and show CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED & KERNAL_INPAGE_ERROR.kindly tell me how to fix this problem????

  7. Remco says:

    Hi,
    explorer.exe is putting my PC to sleep during the night. Energy parameters are set to high performance and the PC should never go to sleep: is this a windows 8.1 issue or more likely a virus or driver issue (iPhone/ITunes is the main suspect)
    Regards Remco

  8. […] Windows 8.1 users have the option of booting directly to the desktop. This feature doesn’t come pre-running […]

  9. nihit says:

    i am having a problem with windows8.1 error is 8.1 kernel data inpage whenver i start my windows its screen goes blue nd windows restarts on its own.. i cant access any foldr as it starts to restart what should i do..

  10. barbara hurvey says:

    media player does not work

  11. nicola foley says:

    When I turn off the computer I loose all my programmes and software.

  12. satish says:

    si i have a problem that when i have open apps ,store,all windows based apps shows a blank screen and not working please give me a solution

  13. dev says:

    my touchpad is not working in window 8.1 how it solve

  14. John Rey says:

    Hello good day sir i just updated my windows 8 to 8.1 last night the installation run smoothly but after i log in to my pc after the update there is nothing showed it only black screen pls help how can i fix this issue 🙁

  15. Adrian says:

    Problem: Older programs listed as “compatible” with Win 8.1 ran fine for months until one day Windows decided not to run them. I tried everything from checking the DirectX connections to redoing the compatibility settings. I even researched internet articles on the subject and tried their methods, all to no avail. Then I tried a cold reboot, but accidentally turned off all Microsoft Services in the process.

    New problem: With the MS Services including those governing the WiFi and networking capability turned off, Windows 8.1 wouldn’t accept my MS Live Account password. I tried the PC Refresh, the Restore, and everything else which would have worked with previous Windows versions. Nothing that I tried, even with the aid of Microsoft tech support, would allow me access to my account.

    It seems that the only way for me to correct this second problem was to purchase the same kind of hybrid hard drive, install Windows 8.1 on it with a local account, and attempt to copy that local account onto the first hybrid drive and pray heaven that when booted from, I will be able to turn back on the services and thus be able to use my first user account.

    All of this could have been avoided if Windows 8.1 had continued to be “compatible” with the older programs. Everything changed after that last August update. Trying to troubleshoot the Windows 8.1 system has had me yearning for the days when Windows had an actual “Safe Mode” and “Safe Mode With Networking” option. Not even the DOS style network commands would work, in that laughable excuse for a safe mode which Win 8.1 has.

  16. David says:

    Ever since my computer automatically upgraded from 8.0 to 8.1 there is this black box with an orange arrow and “recommendations” that pops up from either screen edge. It will not go away, does not have a close-me ‘x’ in the corner. Nothing I do to it will get rid of it. It stays on top of everything else and blocks essential sections of the screen. HOW DO I GET RID OF THE ORANGE ARROW IN A BLACK BOX?
    Thankyou for any help you may have. This is driving me crazy!

    • Kyle says:

      David, I have noticed this too, especially if I open PDFS. I haven’t attempted to get rid of them all together, but if I scroll with my mouse to the very corner edge of the box it disappears. The “recommendations” I receive are to return to my previous screen. Is this the same as what you are seeing or are they ads? Best.

  17. John says:

    Hello, please i need help, i upgraded my system from windows 8 to 8.1 and it cant detect any wireless network that were in range when windows 8 was on anymore. Please what can i do?

  18. Harsh says:

    I updated my Windows 8 to 8.1. When the update finished, there are 100s of folders on the desktop with dll files in them. I am sure this is not intended. Can you please share a solution for this?

  19. Ken says:

    Why would Windows 8.1 shut down my HDMI port after 5 mins;?; does the same to some USB drives, also. It is VERY annoying!

  20. Markus says:

    My Vista powered PC crashed last summer and the Geek Squad said they could not fix it because MS no longer supported Vista, they required me to pay for an upgrade to 8.1 and of course I lost emails, photos, favorites, about four years worth of files and notes and etc. I don’t like 8.1, it is horrific for navigation, just getting to the right place in the control panel is a time wasting trial. And I swear this is the last MS Windows product I will ever buy, but for now I am stuck with it.

    Today my computer suddenly decided it would take 10 or more minutes (if ever) to open a new tab in IE and I can’t open a new window at all unless I right click on a link and then navigate from there to where I want to go, I don’t have chrome or firefox, and the antivirus is Kaspersky. I ran a scan but it found no threats. I had trouble opening task manager, alt+cnt+enter didn’t work, I had to go through control panel. When I did manage to access task manager it said the only running app was IE.

    I may just trash this machine and get an apple product, but then I risk losing anything I have managed to salvage over the years, not to mention the thousands of dollars I have in gear. I doubt I will bother taking it to Geek Squad again though I had to also buy a one year service contract, they now require you make an appointment just to go in and make an appointment, then you take the hardware in and kiss it goodbye for about a week, then they tell you why you have to get something that is not covered by the contract or get a new computer. ENOUGH ALREADY!

  21. doug simerly says:

    Win. 8.1, my windows media player network process( on task mangler ) plays commercials that I am not, or would not sit through. I can be watching a short vid, and the commercial comes on at the same time as the video. What gives and how can I kill this infuriating demon?

  22. Barbie says:

    Windows 8.1 When I enter my password, a pop up for cleaning my computer appears. When I close that out, the screen is blank for 50-60 minutes before it shows the applications. This is a brand new computer. It seems like the computer isn’t even running. What do I do?

  23. Ron MacDonald says:

    Clicking on the red X box or the grey tab x to close out of win 8.1 I get an error message from internet explorer has stopped working. A problem caused the program to stop working correctly.
    I have to click on this red x and close the message window. so I have to perform 2 exit functions. What is causing this as I did not have this issue with win8.0?

  24. Avast Phone Support says:

    Thank u for sharing this blog .To read this blog i solved my win 8.1 regarding problems to follow those steps..

  25. Barry Derbyshire says:

    I’m ordering a new PC and from the problems I have read on this blog about 8.1 I feel inclined to opt for windows 7. (my current PC is running XP)

  26. saurabh says:

    I am unable to open taskmanager and the ways to get it……like cmd reggdit explorer.exe and many of its apps in windows 8.1. I Just did something wrong in resource moniter ,I disabled some of the svchost works through their process tree………
    Plz help

  27. puhnken says:

    Windows 8 says it will restart pc and do update. After downloading updates, it then says after restarting, that it was unable to install the updates, and is resetting the changes. This has happened the past 3 times it wants to update. Please tell me what I need to do, and be specific, I do not understand pc at all. Ty for you help.

  28. Kyle says:

    @William Thompson: thank you for the very helpful article. I have a question in regards to #6 above: when I’m logged in on Windows 8.1 a black blank box appears similar to an Explorer.exe window pops up once a minute and immediately disappears. However, unlike what you list above, it doesn’t have an OK button. It doesn’t seem to interfere with any other processes but it’s annoying. I’m unsure if I began seeing this pop up after upgrading to an 8.1 or installing the Google Music Manager (I installed around the same time).

    BTW I like Win 8.1; I have an older Gateway laptop which came with Vista, which I had much more operational challenges with. I upgraded to 8 then 8.1 without problems – my documents and other files seamlessly transferred over. I’m sure that I added at least a year of life to my laptop by upgrading.

    Thanks again and in advance!

  29. Bill says:

    In 8.1 any time I try to drag and drop a folder, I get the “folder in use-action cannot be completed” error even if the folder is not being used anywhere else. This appears to be a common problem, but what is the solution? (In layman’s terms)

  30. Betsy says:

    I can’t type anything for very long, before the letters start switching places. When I try to highlight it to correct it, a vast part of the page is highlighted in blue, and I cant get rid of it

  31. Pat Abbey says:

    When I went to shut down my laptop I chose update then shut down. I now only have the message “keep your PC on until this is done. Installing update 1 of 1….
    This is a Toshiba Satellite C55d-b5214, Part# PSCN4u-005, ser # 8E0415118, windows 8.1
    This screen will not go away. What do I do???

  32. Jemp says:

    Hi
    I have this problem:
    ” I can log on to the primary user account using my Microsoft Account credentials without a problem, but any other user account, no such luck. All I get after the login screen, is a black display with the mouse pointer.
    Doing the three finger salute (Ctrl-Alt-Del) and bringing up the Task Manager, shows that explorer.exe is not running. Attempting to run explorer.exe manually using the Run command box does nothing.

    So, there’s no desktop or taskbar, no Start screen, nothing. Only a solitary mouse pointer sitting in the dark! ”

    I have created several users, no one does work, except the first one, created during the installation

    (The hidden admin also works, bur even if i create another user in this admin mode I get the black screen)

    I have already tried the sfc /scannow but this didn’t solve the problem…

    Windows 8.1 on a DELL INSPIRON 3000 8GB with NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 705
    All Windows updates
    G-Data
    Office 2007
    Corel Draw Essential 3
    Mc Affee

    Maybe you can help me
    Thanks

    Jemp

  33. mthobisi dladla says:

    A have a problem in installing windows 8.1 it keeps me waiting at 0% downloading, I’ve tried some of Microsoft methods they didn’t work. Please help

  34. paula says:

    We have been rebooting the computer without any problems from the beginning, but today is the first day it has asked for a password. why would it do that? now, our whole system is down and we are at a loss as to what to do. no one has a password that they are aware of. i’m trying to figure out what password is used when you first get onto the computer. HELP!!!!

  35. Carolyn says:

    My PC keeps losing the connection to wifi in the house. All other devices connect to the wifi without issue no matter where they are in the house. My PC will either not connect when I turn it on or will lose connection while using it. I constantly reconnect; forget the network and then reconnect to it; turn off the wifi connection and then put it back on. Then the PC will work fine for weeks and then start up again. Thank you on advance for your help.

  36. xavier says:

    hi.. !
    1- when i start my laptop (windows 8.1 pro 64bit) is shows a pup up right in the middle of the screen within 3-9 secs after starting and it disappears within 1-3 secs.
    2- when i put password to my laptop it accepts. then the pwd screen disappears like nor normal then again for a second or two it become blue or ( you know like the background color i set).
    any idea what this problem is because this issue annoys me alot. and i think my laptop got a bit slower too. after this issue ..
    and let me tell you my window is registered.
    would it be a good option to recover my window. .
    waiting for your answer.
    thank you in advance. 🙂

  37. william davis says:

    I changed to 8.1 only problem I am having is small black screen keeps flashing not only is it a pain but wont let you stay on full screen when watching anything online except my own dvds what can I do to stop this from happening it does this every few seconds and wont stop help me find a solution thank you

  38. shawn says:

    i have windows 8.1 and the biggest problem I have is after I shut down when I do actually turn on it does automatic updates.after it hits 40% I get a error then the system won’t load windows at all the only thing I can do is reset my cpu losing everything then I have to spend hours re-downloading and installing everything just to do it all over the following day extremely annoying

  39. David says:

    When I try item #2 it says can’t find the recovery environment, use the CD. I don’t have a recovery CD. What now?

  40. mbuthia denis says:

    i just joined windows 8.1 but the only problem is that when am using the the laptop on lines keeps on moving up and down which prevents me from reading what is on the sceen

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