Tried to fix start menu issue, lost profile, had to use system restore

  1. Posts : 206
    Windows 10

    Tried to fix start menu issue, lost profile, had to use system restore

    There are countless posts on here about fixing the problem of the Win10 start menu disappearing (that is, left-click the start button and nothing happens).

    My wife got her ASUS laptop in early September, and some time - a month or two maybe; it's her computer, but it was me who noticed - later, the start menu functionality disappeared.

    This bothered me a lot more than it bothered her, but I'm a big believer that small visible problems can be a sign of bigger lurking ones. So I finally got around to attempting to fix it.

    It seems like almost universally, the first recommended fix is to open a powershell window and then do the sfc /scannow. So I did that, and it found some corrupt/missing files and fixed them. But that didn't fix the problem.

    Other common steps I've read - registry edits, there is a batch file touted in these forums, much more - seemed to get far less than unanimous endorsement and I didn't want to make things worse. So my next step was to pick "personalize", click "start" on the left menu, then click "Start" from the available choices. From there I tried to toggle "Use Start full screen" on and off, but Win10 never would "remember" the change. It would be "on" and then revert to "off" with no intervention from me.

    After that I rebooted the computer, logged in - and instead of just bringing me to the normal desktop, 2+ minutes went by with the spinning dots and "Preparing Windows" displayed.

    When the login completed, it was my wife's user account, and the start button/menu worked (good!).

    BUT... it was like she'd never been on the computer before, ever.

    Desktop background picture was different.

    Firefox was no longer her default browser, and none of her profile information - bookmarks, passwords, browsing history - had been saved.

    Her Documents folder existed, intact, but the system pointer to "My Documents" pointed elsewhere (to something, an empty folder, buried several levels deep in Temp).

    The home network printer was visible, but not accessible. I had to delete it and manually re-add it.

    And so on.

    And the account WAS her account. Same user name, same password, and looking through the App Data folders, they were created on 9/3, the day the computer was configured. But nothing was the same, and much was lost.

    Desperate, I opted to do a system restore, back about 10 days. Upon completion, we got a message that the restore failed because - well, I forget, but it had something to do with a persistent file that the restore was unable to eliminate or overwrite or something.

    However, then everything was back to as it had been before I started. All the good/expected things about the computer configuration, but the start button/menu no longer worked again.


    1. Even though it gets asked a lot, how do I restore Start button/menu (without the disastrous consequences I encountered)?
    2. What the heck happened, so that a seemingly superficial/benign "poke" at personalizing and playing with the "start full screen" setting, caused her user profile to complete reset on reboot? By the way, the computer is scanned daily by AVG and is clean, and I ran a Malwarebytes scan before playing with anything, and that too found zero instances of malware.
      My Computer

  2. Railtech's Avatar
    Posts : 474
    Win 10 Pro x64 versions

    I solved the same issue you had by doing an in place upgrade of Windows 10. Solved the problem and everything user account wise remained the same.
      My Computer

  3. dalchina's Avatar
    Posts : 30,455
    Win 10 Pro (1903)

    If you're not familiar with that, here's my write-up:
    Precede it with this in case sthg has happened to your file system:

    From an admin command prompt
    [Windows key + X, click command prompt (admin)]
    chkdsk C: /F
    Your PC will need to restart.
    Make sure the result is clear or fixed- else do not proceed.
    Post back the result, which you can get after a restart as follows:
    How do I see the results of a CHKDSK that ran on boot? - Ask Leo!

    An In-place upgrade repair install will fix many things, but not those where the settings are not changed by the procedure.

    For this you need an installation medium with the same base build as you have installed, and x64 if you have a 64 bits OS, else x86 (32 bits).

    Before you perform the following major repair procedure, do create a disk image (see below).

    Repair Install Windows 10 with an In-place Upgrade - Windows 10 Tutorials
    - this includes a link from which you can obtain a Windows 10 iso file (" download a Windows 10 ISO"), or create a Win 10 bootable medium.

    I would recommend creating the bootable medium, as this can be used
    - for any future in-place upgrade repair install
    - to boot from and use its recovery options should Windows become unbootable.
    - to clean install Windows

    This will refresh Windows, after the manner of a Windows installation.
    - all/most associations will be unchanged
    - all your programs will be left installed
    - no personal data should be affected
    - you will lose any custom fonts
    - you will lose any customised system icons
    - you may need to re-establish your Wi-Fi connection
    - you will need to redo Windows updates subsequent to the build you have used for the repair install
    - Windows.old will be created
    - system restore will be turned off- you should turn it on again and I recommend you manually schedule a daily restore point.
    - you will need to redo any language downloads including the display language if you changed that)
    - inactive title bar colouring (if used) will be reset to default
    - if Qttabbar is installed, you need to re-enable it in explorer (Options, check Qttabbar)
    This is one of the better features of Win10: as each major build comes out, that's your updated reference build, and as updates are mostly cumulative, there will be few to do.

    Please consider using disk imaging regularly. It's a brilliant way to
    - preserve your system (and your sanity)
    - back up your data
    - restore your system to a previously working state in a relatively short time

    Recommended: Macrium Reflect (free/commercial) + boot disk/device + large enough external storage medium.
      My Computers

  4. Posts : 206
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    Thank you Dalchina for the reply, and the instructions.

    I'll push this off to the weekend, since it's my wife's laptop, and both she and I are occupied in the evening during the week.

    Sadly, I regularly image my own C drive, although I'm the "safest computing" practitioner in our house. The more "rogue-managed" computers, more likely to go off into the weeds, I don't. Very bad on my part, I admit. I've used Drive Image on my own computer all these years and it's worked great. The Macrium free product sounds wonderful though; I will have to check it out.
      My Computer


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