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415 Amwell Road, Suite 103, Hillsborough Township NJ 08844

What to do if Cortana or your Windows 10 Start menu isn’t working

If you see an error that reads like this, ‘Critical Error – Start Menu and Cortana aren’t working. We’ll try to fix it the next time you sign in. Sign out now’, you’re not alone. This is something we see a lot here at Dave’s Computers. We frequently help our neighbors fix this problem or help them fix it themselves.

When Windows 10 first came out, the main cause of this issue was older antivirus software. It conflicted with the indexing that made search work properly and as the Start menu and Cortana both integrate into search, this problem arrived. Later, when all antivirus was updated to play nicely with Windows 10, it was configuration errors causing issues.

Cortana or your Windows 10 Start menu not working

As a first fix, I would check just how long you have used your current antivirus solution without updating it. By updating I mean the core product and not the antivirus signatures that should be downloaded regularly.

As a precaution, I would suggest fully uninstalling your current antivirus and downloading and installing a brand new copy from the provider. This has the side effect of refreshing the antivirus and giving you the very latest version.

If you still see ‘Critical Error – Start Menu and Cortana aren’t working. We’ll try to fix it the next time you sign in. Sign out now’, we need to run a Safe Boot of Windows 10.

Windows 10 Safe Boot

A Windows 10 Safe Boot forces a refresh of the Windows profile which stores all your settings and configurations. The theory is that one or more of these files become corrupted and interferes with Cortana or your Windows 10 Start menu. A Safe Boot asks Windows to pull a fresh copy from the Windows cache which allows everything to work again.

  1. Type ‘msconfig’ into the Search Windows box and select System Configuration.
  2. Select the Boot tab in the new window.
  3. Check the box next to Safe Boot and leave the selection at ‘Minimal’.
  4. Select OK and then Apply. This will immediately restart your computer.
  5. Once rebooted, repeat Step 1 to bring back msconfig.
  6. Select the Boot tab.
  7. Uncheck the box next to Safe Boot.
  8. Select OK and then Apply to restart your computer once more.

I don’t fully know why this procedure fixes the Cortana or Windows 10 Start menu not working. I have my theory but all I really know is that it does fix it!

Dave’s Computers in Hillsborough, New Jersey is here to help with any computer repair problem you may have. Call us or drop into the store and we would be happy to help.

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