clean boot Windows 10 to determine problem cause

How to determine what is causing an issue with Windows 10 after you do a clean boot


When having a system performance or network issue with your Windows 10 PC you can follow these steps to determine the cause. Open these instructions on a mobile device or another computer so they are available while troubleshooting the PC with the problem.

MSCONFIG System Configuration Screenshot Steps

First of all perform a clean boot. After this is done proceed to the following steps.

If the problem does not occur while the computer is in a clean boot environment, then you can determine which startup application or service is causing the problem by systematically turning them on or off and restarting the computer.  While turning on a single service or startup item and rebooting each time will eventually find the problematic service or application, the most efficient way to do this is to test half of them at a time, thus eliminating half of the items as the potential cause with each reboot of the computer.  You can then repeat this process until you’ve isolated the problem.  Here’s how:

  1. Sign in to the computer by using an account that has administrator rights. If you don’t have an administrator account, you can create one. Create a local user or administrator account in Windows 10
  2. For Windows 10, in the search box on the taskbar, type msconfig.  (In Windows 8 or 8.1, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then select Search. Or, if you’re using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, and then select Search.  In the search box, type msconfig.)
  3. Select msconfig or System Configuration from the search results.
  4. Select Services, and then select Hide all Microsoft services.
  5. Select each of the check boxes in the upper half of the Service list.
  6. Select OK, and then select Restart.
  7. After the computer restarts, determine whether the problem still occurs.
    • If the problem still occurs, one of the checked items is the problematic service.  Repeat steps 1 through 6, but in Step 5, clear the lower half of the boxes in the Service list that you selected in your last test.  
    • If the problem doesn’t occur, the checked items are not the cause of the problem. Repeat steps 1 through 6, but in Step 5, turn on the upper half of the boxes that you cleared in the Service list in the last test. 
    • Repeat these steps until you’ve either isolated the problem to a single service, or until you’ve determined that none of the services are the cause of the problem.  If you experience the problem when only one service is selected in the Service list, go to step 10. If none of the services cause the problem, go to step 8.
  8. Select Startup, and then select the upper half of the check boxes in the Startup Item list.
  9. Select OK, and then select Restart.
    • If the problem still occurs, repeat step 8, but this time clear the lower half of the boxes in the Startup Item list that you selected in your last test.  
    • If the problem does not occur, repeat step 8, and turn on the upper half of the boxes that you cleared in the Startup Item list in the last test. 
    • If you still experience the problem after only one Startup Item is selected in the Startup Item list, this means that the selected Startup Item causes the problem, and you should go to step 10. If no Startup Item causes this problem, there might be a problem with a Microsoft service.  Repair the service, reset, or reinstall Windows
  10. After you determine the startup item or the service that causes the problem, contact the program manufacturer to determine whether the problem can be resolved. Or, run Windows with the problem item disabled.  To do this, run the System Configuration utility and enable your Services and Startup Items, but clear the check box for the problem item.


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