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Critical Error with Windows 10, Start Menu and Cortana

Critical Error with Windows 10, Start Menu and Cortana

I started to get a critical error with Windows 10, Start Menu and Cortana.

For anyone working from home, getting critical computer errors can really upset your schedule and your productivity. Here I talk about the solutions that worked for me with this particular critical error.

After I upgraded from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, all was well for about a month. I was using a new laptop which came with Windows 8.1 along with McAfee Antivirus which was free for the first month. I have being using Avast Antivirus for a number of years on my old laptop and the antivirus license was still valid for another year and a half, so I wanted to use that. I installed Avast Antivirus on my new laptop, got the Avast license installed and was ready to go. I then uninstalled the McAfee Antivirus software a day or two before it was due to expire.

All was well for a while

Critical error with Windows 10, Start Menu and Cortana - Cortana

All was well for a while then I started to get a critical error with Windows 10 when I was trying to log into my account. During the log in process, it would report a critical error with start menu and Cortana and that the system would attempt to fix it on the next log in. It only gave me one real option, to try to log in again. Talk about an endless loop.

A not so good way to fix it that is not recommended

The way I ‘fixed it’ was to turn the computer off and let my finger stay on the power off button until it was really powered off. This approach is not recommended and is a final last step. The pc on the next boot up would appear to be working however some of the functionally was a ‘bit off’. I was having issues with Edge (Microsoft’s new internet browser that is replacing Internet Explorer), sometimes it would work in the expected manner and other times it would not. It was slow and not reliable.

Online research

I did an amount of online research and it appeared that Windows 10 and Avast Anti-Virus do not play well together for some reason. Avast was getting a lot of ‘blame’ for the problem. For me, I do not care if the problem is with Avast or with Microsoft, I just expect both those companies to sort out the problem between them, so that I can enjoy using my computer.

Non runner ‘solution’

The solution offered time and time again online was to uninstall Avast. That was not a runner for me, so I kept doing online research.

Anyway I gradually found a technical hint which appeared promising, so I tried it over the last weekend. Since I done this, my pc has behaved a lot better and a lot faster. So fingers crossed….

Sharing what so far is working for me

I am sharing this approach with you in the hope that if you have this problem, that this approach will also work for you. Please note, I am not in a position to provide personal support to you. If the following works, let me know by providing feedback below. That way, other readers of this article would be better placed to determine if they should also try this approach.

If you sorted out the problem yourself with an alternative solution, let me know by providing feedback below. That way other people reading this may find that your solution helped them.

One cure: Getting critical error with Windows 10, Start Menu and Cortana

  • Press [ctrl] [alt] and [del] at the same time to bring up the Task Manager.
  • Click File.
  • Run New Task.
  • Enter msconfig
  • Click run with admin privileges prompt.
  • Go to the boot section.
  • Click on Safeboot and Network.
  • Click on OK to restart.
  • After restart:
  • Repeat the process above, unclick Safeboot in msconfig
  • The Network option within Safeboot is automatically unselected.
  • Restart again.
  • This approach worked for me and I hope that it works for you.

If you need technical help, you will need to go to your Windows 10 provider for that help. After all, that is why they are there. 🙂

Another approach if you are using Avast, is to drop it, but you need an alternative Antivirus in place

Also another approach is to use the Windows Defender software than comes with Windows 10 as your anti virus solution. You would need to do more research yourself to determine if this approach is ok for you. For the moment, I have decided that as my Avast antivirus subscription does not expire for another 18 months or so, that I want to continue using them. I have been using Avast antivirus software for years now and am familiar with them. In 18 months or thereabouts, I will do research to determine what I will do.


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Article by:
David from WorkFromHomeNotes.com
Hi, I'm David, the guy behind Work From Home Notes.

I work from home. I've written guides, reviews, tips and notes that help people work from home. I include my experiences of my work from home journey.

9 thoughts on “Critical Error with Windows 10, Start Menu and Cortana”

  1. That is true, I have the same problem as you with my Windows 10, and I’m using Avast antivirus free edition. Ok then, it is a compatibility issue, I understand now. The positive thing is that I’m using the free edition so I won’t have a problem to try another product and I hope that I won’t get the same issue. Do you recommend any trustworthy antivirus to use with Windows 10?

    • Hi Koelner,

      I have paid for my Avast Antivirus for another 18 months or so. If I was using the free version I would do more research on Windows Defender, the antivirus that comes with Windows 10. I heard that it may be up to the task, however have not done any real research to back this up.

      You might be kind enough to do some research and provide additional feedback on what you find out here to help other readers make an informed choice.

      I have had to do the workaround once again since I wrote the article. However at least the PC is behaving as expected (expect for this annoying thing) which I wish Avast and Microsoft would just fix.

      My current plan is to move to Microsoft Windows Defender in about 18 months time assuming it is free and reliable, and Avast still want money, once I have done additional research or move before then if I still keep having the issue. Patience wears thin after a while.


  2. Great that you were able to resolve the problem. As windows users we are kind of used to seeing such weird problems crop up and we just get used to it since Microsoft itself isn’t able to fix it, talk about the pathetic Windows 8, only when 8.1 came it was somewhat stable, the difference was so much that it could have easily been like Windows 9 for me.
    Have got a Mac now and cannot be happier, use windows only for office, since office for Mac is another pathetic product by MS, otherwise Mac is the way to go!

    • You have a very interesting point of view. Hope you Mac continues to give you continued enjoyment.

      I have just had to go through this process again. Thank goodness I wrote the instructions down, using an old fashioned pen in a physical note book.

  3. Hi David,

    I’ve yet to encounter this issue (hopefully – I never will), but you never now. So far Win10 is nice, but some problems exist.

    By the way, did you run into any issues using the card readers or phones and mic on your laptop? Because, since the upgrade, I can’t use my phones and my card reader doesn’t see any memory sticks in it. Updating drivers didn’t help at all.

    • Hi Dmitriy,

      It was, or rather is, a huge upgrade for Windows, and as Windows is used on so many devices, all with different hardware specifications I would be surprised if there are no issues.

      Regarding your issue, I have two suggestions, hopefully one of them will do the trick for you.

      Suggestion 1: See if there are any more Windows updates. If so, it may be worth upgrading to the latest one. On your machine, Start, Settings, Update & Security, Windows Update

      Suggestion 2: Use your favorite search engine eg Google or Bing, to search for any possible solutions. If you find some, it may be worth following their suggestions.


      • Thanks for your reply, David!

        I’ve already tried those and didn’t find anything. I guess I’ll wait until Win 10 will be compatible with more hardware than it is right now.

        • Hi Dmitriy,

          Or maybe purchase a phone or a card reader that is compatible with your machine running Windows 10. Maybe a friend or a colleague could load you such a phone or card reader to allow you to see if their one is compatible with your machine running Windows 10. Just a thought.


          • Yeah, actually SD cards work fine, the problem arises only with Memory Sticks. Not a big deal, but you know how it is when something you are used to… use every day just stops working.

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