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Issue #692: October 25-31, 2020

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Q: I have a problem with my computer, in that, an access feature disappears frequently causing me to restart the computer to regain its presence. I have a new Acer, Windows 10 computer just 3 months old. Only my wife and I use the computer for email, news, ordering products and some correspondence. I purchased Microsoft 365 with the computer. At the lower left corner of the desktop screen is a Windows icon labeled “Start” that when clicked opens several colorful tiles featuring access to different programs on the computer. In addition, there is an alphabetical listing of features as well as a few computer access icons: Power, Settings, etc. I leave the computer on overnight. Two to three times a week when I click this Start button nothing happens. I mean nothing. The tiles do not appear nor the alphabetical listing. I find I must restart the computer to regain this feature. Why is the “Start” feature being disabled? How do I keep from losing this action?  The only feature that seems to be active on the computer, that I do not know how to disable, is a Norton ad page that shows itself often. Norton came with the computer free for several weeks. I allowed Norton to expire as I am under the belief that with my Cox Wi-Fi and email account I have McAfee virus protection and do not need Norton. Is this a valid belief? Or should I retain the Norton virus protection for a yearly fee?

– Rick G.
Crestview, Florida

A:  This “access feature” about which you’re talking is nothing more than the standard Windows “Start” menu.  Your description made me smile, as you described it like it was some exotic feature of Windows, rather than the built-in standard method of launching applications and accessing Windows’ features.  Actually, you provided a rather good, and very comprehensive description of it, but just saying “the Windows Start menu” would have been enough.

Your question, like most “why” questions that people ask me, has no absolute answer.  Windows being the highly complex beast that it is, there are any number of things that can go wrong, not just with the Start menu, but with lots of seemingly-unrelated features.  The Start menu is obviously not intended to lock up or randomly stop working, so there The closest thing to an explanation that I can offer is to say that some part of Windows is likely corrupted or out-of-date, which is causing this erratic operation of your system.

Since the common Start menu seemed exotic to you, it strikes me that you may be unfamiliar with how to configure Windows Update.  Although there have been many issues with updates Microsoft has pushed out this year (Thanks a lot, Bill!) theses updates still contain necessary software changes that keep your PC running smoothly.  To make sure you have the latest, click the “Start” menu (if it’s not working, you’ll need to re-start your PC), then choose Settings (the gear icon).  In the Windows Settings box, click on “Update & Security”.  Click the button that says “Check for updates”.  If it finds anything, let it perform the installation.  It might require a reboot to complete.  Repeat these procedures until no updates remain.

If that doesn’t solve the problem, Windows has a built-in tool to scan itself for corrupted files.  The process to run it is non-trivial, so I’d rather let Microsoft explain how to do it. Just click over to TinyURL.com/IGTM-0692a and follow the instructions carefully.

As for your anti-malware software, first, no, I don’t recommend that you renew your Norton subscription.  Second, merely being a Cox customer doesn’t cause the McAfee software to automatically install.  Cox may make it available to their customers, but you’d need to go and download and install it before it will do you any good.  Before you do that, give a read to the article at TinyURL.com/IGTM-0692b.  It makes the case for the “best Windows 10 antivirus” and you may be surprised at what you read.  You’ll need to decide for yourself whether it’s the “best” solution but it’s free, and it’s already on your computer.

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