windows 10 critical error

How to Fix a Windows 10 Critical Error

The Windows 10 Critical error is related to the Start menu not working. It happens when some files become corrupted. Sometimes, the Start menu alone is affected, but other times the search feature, Cortana, and the Start menu are all involved. This walkthrough will teach you how to resolve the error. For more methods that deal with a Start menu icon not working, click here.

Perform a System Backup

Before making any changes to your PC, you should always perform a system backup to prevent lost files. Here is how to backup your computer:

Step #1

Press the [X] and the [Windows] keys on your keyboard at the same time. Choose “Settings” on the menu that appears.

settings on menu

Step #2

In the Settings window, click on Update & Security. Then select “Backup” from the left panel in the Update & Security window.

backup under update and security

Step #3

Connect an external drive such as a USB drive to your computer. Click “Add a Drive” and then choose the drive you attached.

click add a drive

It may take some time, but Windows will create the backup on the drive for you.

Resolving the Windows 10 Critical Error

Reboot Windows

The easiest way to deal with this issue is to restart your computer.

Step #1

Press the [ctrl], [alt], and [delete] keys on your keyboard at the same time. This opens the Task Manager menu.

task manager menu

Step #2

Click the Power icon in the lower right corner. Choose “Restart.”

choose restart button

Once the computer restarts, see if the Critical Error is still present. If it is, continue to the next method.

Run a System File Check and Repair the Windows Image

The system file check is designed to repair and fix corrupt files on your computer automatically. You can access this app through the Command Prompt.

Step #1

Press the [X] and the [Windows] keys on your keyboard at the same time. Choose “Windows PowerShell (Admin)” on the menu that appears and choose “Yes” if the system asks if you want to allow that app to make changes.

windows powershell admin on menu

Step #2

In the PowerShell window that opens, type “sfc /scannow” (without the quotation marks) into it and press [Enter]. Wait until the process is done. It may take some time to complete.

type sfc scannow in powershell window

Step #3

When the scan is complete, and you see a new prompt, type “Repair-WindowsImage -RestoreHealth” (without the quotation marks) into it or copy and paste the command. Press [Enter] when you are done. Again, it may take some time for the repair to finish.

type Repair-WindowsImage -RestoreHealth

Step #4

When the scan finishes, you must restart your computer. As before, Press the [ctrl], [alt], and [delete] keys on your keyboard at the same time, click the Power icon, and choose “Restart.”

choose restart button

If you still see the Windows 10 Critical Error, continue to the next method.

Reinstall the Start Menu App

When the Start menu app becomes corrupt, sometimes it is best just to reinstall that app as well as other corrupt Microsoft Windows 10 apps that may be interfering with it. To do this, Windows 10 has a command that you can access through the PowerShell.

Step #1

Press the [X] and the [Windows] keys on your keyboard at the same time. Choose “Windows PowerShell (Admin)” on the menu that appears. Again, choose “Yes” if the system asks if you want to allow that app to make changes.

windows powershell admin on menu

Step #2

In the PowerShell window that opens, type or cut and paste the following command:

 Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”} 

and press [Enter]. Wait until the process is done. This will take some time to complete.

copy and paste the command of get appxpackage

Step #3

Now, you need to restart your computer again. Return to the [ctrl], [alt], and [delete] menu by pressing the keys simultaneously on your keyboard, click the Power icon, and choose “Restart.”

choose restart button

If you still see the Windows 10 Critical Error pop-up, continue reading to find another method that will work to resolve your computer’s error.

Create a New User Account With Administrative Privileges

If your settings or any changes that were automatically made to your computer settings cause the Start menu or Cortana to stop working, creating a new user account is the best option for resolving the issue.

Step #1

Right-click on the taskbar and when the menu opens choose “Task Manager.” Alternately, you could press the [Ctrl], [Shift], and [Esc] keys at the same time to open it.

task manager on list

Step #2

When the Task Manager opens, click “File” in the upper left-hand corner. Choose “Run new task” from the drop-down menu. Type “PowerShell” into the window that opens and make sure the “Create this task with administrative privileges” box is checked before clicking “OK.”

check create this task with administrative privileges

Step #3

When the PowerShell opens, type “net user DifferentUsername DifferentPassword /add” without the quotation marks. In this case, you should replace DifferentUsername with the actual username you want for the new account. DifferentPassword is replaced with the password you want to use for the new account. Neither the password nor the username can contain any spaces, and both will be case-sensitive. When you have finished typing the command in, press [Enter] to execute it.

type net user differentusername differentpassword

Step #4

As with the other methods, you have to restart your computer. Close the PowerShell window, press the [ctrl], [alt], and [delete] keys simultaneously on your keyboard, click the Power icon, and choose “Restart.” When the computer restarts, log on to the new user account you created using the new username and password you typed into the PowerShell command.

choose restart button

The Windows 10 Critical Error should be gone when you log in to your new user account. If it is, transfer all your files to your new account and delete the old one. Otherwise, continue reading for more methods of dealing with this issue.

Do a Clean Boot

Sometimes third-party apps will interfere with the Start menu function. A clean boot starts the computer with only necessary Microsoft apps running. If a third-party app is the cause, you can try updating it or uninstalling it to fix the issue permanently.

Step #1

Once you log in as an administrator and see the Critical Error message, press the [R] key and the [Windows] key together to open the Run box. Type “msconfig,” and click “OK.”

msconfig in run box

Step #2

The System Configuration window will appear. Click the services tab. “Hide all Microsoft services” should have a checkmark next to it. (Click it if it doesn’t.) Then click “Disable all.”

disable all microsoft services

Step #3

Now, click the “Startup” tab while you are still in the System Configuration window. Click on “Open Task Manager” there.

open task manager on startup

Step #4

The Task Manager will open. Click the tab labeled “Startup.” Select each item you find there and click the button to “Disable” it if it isn’t already disabled. Now you can close the Task Manager.

select item and click disable button

Step #5

On the System Configuration window that is still open, click the “Apply” button and then “OK.”

click apply and ok button

Step #6

As before, press the [ctrl], [alt], and [delete] keys on your keyboard at the same time, click the Power icon, and choose “Restart.”

choose restart button

Step #7

As the computer restarts, see if you get the Critical Error message. If the message is gone, repeat the steps above, but this time “enable” each app one at a time until you find the app causing the error.

Until you determine which app is interfering, you will need to use your computer in the Clean Boot state. If this method did not work, continue to the next method.

Update or Uninstall a Third-Party Antivirus

If you are using a third-party antivirus, it is possible that the antivirus is interfering with some components of Windows. Since Windows 10 comes with Windows Defender, first you should make sure Windows Defender has been deactivated if you are running a third-party antivirus. Running two antivirus programs at the same time can cause problems because the programs interfere with each other. To find out how to deactivate Windows Defender, click here.

Virus and Threat Protection settings

Since each antivirus is different, the instructions below are general and not specific to any one antivirus program. Visit the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions on how to update or uninstall your antivirus.

Step #1

When you open the third-party antivirus program, you should be able to find an “Update” area. Sometimes, this is located in a “General” folder. In other cases, you might find it under “Settings.” Click the button to update the program.

update antivirus

Step #2

After you update and restart your computer, if you still see the Critical Error message, you need to uninstall your antivirus software. Press the [X] and [Windows] keys at the same time. Choose “Settings” from the list.

settings on menu

Step #3

Click “Apps” in the Settings window. In the “Apps & Features” submenu, scroll down until you find your antivirus program. Click on it, and then click the “Uninstall” button.

uninstall antivirus program

Step #4

As before, press the [ctrl], [alt], and [delete] keys on your keyboard at the same time, click the Power icon, and choose “Restart.”

choose restart the computer

Step #5

If the problem is resolved, you can try reinstalling your third-party antivirus. If the problem appears after you reinstall the antivirus again, you will need to uninstall it and find another one or turn on Windows Defender and use that.

Download the Microsoft Start Menu Troubleshooter

Shortly after Windows 10 came out, it was notorious for having Start menu/ Cortana critical errors. As a result, Microsoft created a special troubleshooter that you can still find here. This option works best if you think the errors might be related to issues with missed updates. All you need to do is download the Troubleshooter and run it, following the onscreen instructions.

Reinstall the Start Menu and Re-register Cortana

If the Start menu is corrupt or the registration process for Cortana is missing on your computer, this is the best option to fix it. Also, if you run the Start menu Troubleshooter, and it tells you “Microsoft.Windows.ShellExperienceHost” and “Microsoft.Windows.Cortana” applications need to be installed properly; the following directions will resolve the issue.

Step #1

Press the [X] and the [Windows] keys together. Click on “Windows PowerShell (Admin).” Choose “Yes” if the system wants permission for the app to make changes.

windows powershell admin on menu

Step #2

In the PowerShell window that opens, type Get-AppxPackage Microsoft.Windows.ShellExperienceHost | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage –DisableDevelopmentMode –Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\ AppXManifest.xml”} into the PowerShell and press [Enter]. Wait until the process is done.

type get appxpackage microsoft.windows.shellexperiencehost

Step #3

When that finishes, type Get-AppxPackage Microsoft.Windows.Cortana | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage –DisableDevelopmentMode –Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\ AppXManifest.xml”} into it or copy and paste the command. Press [Enter] when you are done. Again, it may take some time for the repair to finish.

type get appxpackage microsoft.windows.cortana

Step #4

Now, restart your computer. Press the [ctrl], [alt], and [delete] keys together, click the Power icon, and choose “Restart.”

choose restart the computer

Perform a System Restore

If you manually created a system restore point before the Start menu stopped working, you can restore your system to that point. Although some of your information might be lost, this method allows you to fix many issues. You can find out how to turn the System Restore feature on and create a restore point here.

Step #1

As mentioned previously, press the [X] and [Windows] keys at the same time. Choose “Settings” from the menu that appears.

settings on menu

Step #2

Choose “Update & Security.” In the Update & Security window, click on “Recovery” on the left side menu. You should see “Advanced Start-up” on the right. Click the “Restart now” button found underneath that.

restart now button of advanced startup

Step #3

This will cause Windows to restart, and you will see the “Choose an Option” menu.

troubleshoot-I

Step #4

Pick “Troubleshoot” and then “Advanced Options.”

click advanced options under troubleshoot

Step #5

Choose “System Restore.”

system restore under advanced options

Reset the Computer

If you don’t have a system restore point and if none of the other methods mentioned in this walkthrough work, you will have to reset your computer if you want your Start menu functionality back.

Step #1

Press the [X] and [Windows] keys together. Choose “Settings” from the menu.

settings on menu

Step #2

Click on “Update & Security.” Then choose “Recovery” on the left side. You should see “Reset this PC” on the right. Click the “Get started” button found underneath that.

click get started button under reset the pc

Step #3

Now click “Keep my files” and continue. The computer will reset to Windows 10 factory conditions.

click keep my files under reset this PC