7 votes

Tech Support Request: Broken Start Menu on Windows 10

Solved!

Thanks to @pseudolobster's post here, I was able to resolve the issue by creating a new user account on the computer. I'm leaving the post up for posterity, in case anyone else is ever searching up this same issue in the future.


My husband is starting to transition to work from home. He is using his personal computer and just yesterday set up a VPN, Microsoft Teams, and Windows' built-in remote desktop so that he can access his work computer. Everything worked smoothly and he was able to finish out his workday from home just fine.

Primary Issue

This morning, upon booting his computer, he cannot access his Start Menu. It is on screen, and it appears clickable, but nothing comes up. Likewise, the search bar in his task bar is present on boot, but upon clicking the start menu for the first time it disappears and does not return. Other basic Windows functionality seems to be broken. Alt-tabbing does not work to switch between windows. System tray icons are present, but right clicking them and selecting an option does nothing. We cannot open taskbar settings or network settings this way, for example.

This might be indicative of a larger breakdown. Even by command line, I can't get to the Windows 10 settings or Windows Update. It seems like all of the "new Windows"-style interfaces won't start (though the old ones, like the Control Panel, do).

We can still open up apps by clicking on the links in his taskbar, and those seem to work fine. I can also get to the run command with Win+R.

He is running Windows 10, and as far as I know, it's fully up-to-date (I can't open Windows Update to check).

Additional Information

In attempting to diagnose this issue, I've come across several others that are potentially related. I don't know if these are relevant and they're not a primary concern at the moment, but I'm including them here in case they help contextualize what's going on.

There seems to be a runaway process that slowly eats up more and more memory over time, as well as a chunk of CPU. Sometimes it's called "Service Host: Windows Push Notifications User Service_#####" and sometimes it's called "Service Host: WpnUserService_#####" with the numbers changing each boot.

Also, in attempting to restart the computer, it sometimes (but not always) pauses with a notification about programs still running, with one of them being "Task Host Window" with the message Task Host is stopping background tasks. (\Microsoft\Windows\Plug and Play\Device Install Reboot Required) Finally, immediately before restarting, it shows an error message from "svchost.exe" which reads The system detected an overrun of a stack-based buffer in this application. This overrun could potentially allow a malicious user to gain control of this application.

Is this potentially a malware/intrusion issue?

Attempted Solutions

I have tried, to no success:

  • Rebooting the computer, both via a restart in Windows as well as by holding down the power button
  • Signing out and back in to his user account on the computer
  • Running sfc /scannow
  • Running DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth

Request for Help

I know we have a lot of techy people here, but I also know you are all probably busy with everything that's going on. Nevertheless, if anyone has any guidance or help they could give on this issue, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Also, it's been a while since I've used Windows, but IIRC there's a way of just resetting the whole thing and starting fresh? That's not ideal, but if that's the course of action I need to take, just let me know. Ultimately I just want this to work, by whatever method, so that my husband can be at home and reduce his exposure.

5 comments

  1. [5]
    pseudolobster
    (edited )
    Link
    I've seen similar issues related to user permissions. Might want to try creating a new user and see if they have the same problems. If you can't get to the control panel you can try bringing up...

    I've seen similar issues related to user permissions. Might want to try creating a new user and see if they have the same problems. If you can't get to the control panel you can try bringing up the XP user control panel by typing control userpasswords2 at an elevated cmd prompt, or you can simply type net user username password /ADD. If the new user doesn't exhibit the same symptoms we can try and fix it from there. I know a couple registry keys related to UAC that have caused similar problems for me in the past.

    IIRC there's a way of just resetting the whole thing and starting fresh?

    This is most likely going to be your best option. Win10 has two options for this, either Reset or Refresh. Reset deletes everything and does a fresh install. Refresh keeps your flies and documents, but reinstalls windows. You'll lose all installed programs and all configured settings, but you won't need to back up files first.

    The best way to do this is from Recovery Mode, imho. If you click start, shutdown, then hold shift while pressing restart, you'll reboot into recovery mode. This will prevent anything from interfering with the process. This is especially important if this is malware related (though I'm not convinced it is).

    Here's a step-by-step guide for the process: https://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/4090-refresh-windows-10-a.html

    edit: I just realized what I just said. Use this command to reboot into recovery mode: shutdown /r /o /f /t 00

    5 votes
    1. [4]
      kfwyre
      Link Parent
      Creating a new user account did the trick! I'm in a fresh account and everything is (for the moment) functional. Thank you for listing the command, as I originally tried to go through Control...

      Creating a new user account did the trick! I'm in a fresh account and everything is (for the moment) functional.

      Thank you for listing the command, as I originally tried to go through Control Panel to add the account, but it kept trying to open the Windows 10 settings to no avail.

      I'm going to try to get all of the remote work stuff set back up now and will report back once that's all done. Thank you for your help. You helped me with my last major tech issue, and again with this one. You are a knowledgable saint, and I'm incredibly grateful!

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        pseudolobster
        Link Parent
        No worries! If you want to get the old profile working, I can't guarantee anything but here's some things you can try: Reset file permissions Open an admin command prompt type icacls...

        No worries! If you want to get the old profile working, I can't guarantee anything but here's some things you can try:

        Reset file permissions

        • Open an admin command prompt
        • type icacls "c:\users\username" /grant username:(OI)(CI)F /T
          (this will probably take a couple minutes)

        Reinstall/re-register windows apps

        • Open powershell
        • type Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}

        Ensure applocker service is running

        • Open services.msc
        • Find "Application Identity" service
        • Ensure it is set to automatic start

        If none of the above work, let me know. I've got a couple registry keys to try, but it requires me to boot into windows to find them.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          kfwyre
          Link Parent
          I got the VPN and remote desktop fully set up on the new user account, and it's working great, even after reboots. I asked my husband about the old account and he said he's fine with jettisoning...

          I got the VPN and remote desktop fully set up on the new user account, and it's working great, even after reboots.

          I asked my husband about the old account and he said he's fine with jettisoning it. Normally I would want to go in and tinker with it to try to resolve it, but now that the computer is working he's in favor of just not touching anything else so we don't potentially break anything again.

          The clean user account was exactly what we needed, and that memory-eating process isn't showing up there either. Thank you SO much for your help. If there's ever anything I can do for you to help return the favor, let me know. You have now saved two out of two computers in my household!

          2 votes
          1. pseudolobster
            Link Parent
            Again, no worries! I honestly really enjoy helping people and diagnosing tech issues. Glad to hear you're back up and running!

            Again, no worries! I honestly really enjoy helping people and diagnosing tech issues. Glad to hear you're back up and running!

            3 votes