Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Lots of Problems after Refresh - what is the best solution

  1. #1


    Greece
    Posts : 341
    Win8.1 64bit, Windows 10 TP on VMWare Player

    Lots of Problems after Refresh - what is the best solution


    I was getting a lot of glitches, hanging programs and needing to force a power down, so I decided to refresh (possibly the second-worst decision I've made recently), which took me back from W8.1 to W8.

    This went okay, and I went to the store to update to W8.1 again, and found I had to install all the updates for W8 first, so went to do this. There were 118 updates, plus one optional. I downloaded the 118 and clicked to install them (having read another thread I now realize that trying to install so many updates at once is not a good idea, but hindsight is a wonderful thing).

    At first I got into a loop where it appeared to be configuring updates, then said it had failed to configure them and wad reverting, then restarted, then appeared to be configuring etc.

    After about 4 hours the loop finally worked through and I switched off and left everything else until the following day, at which point I found that only about 10 updates had successfully installed, so I again checked for updates and selected to install just 10 (from the bottom of the list). Installing these 10 automatically triggered more to reinstall and I was left with just 16 to deal with in a final install (rebooting in between each batch).

    I then went to uninstall some unwanted programs including McAfee (I had already installed my preferred malware program) and after this had to restart, when I got stuck on the 'restarting' screen for at least a half hour. In the end I opted to power down the machine.

    When I switched back on again I still got the 'restarting' screen and it took another power down before I was able to log on again.

    So then I made what could be the worst recent decision and decided to do another refresh, as it seemed that I had already got glitches happening.

    Again the refresh itself went okay. I installed my preferred malware then uninstalled Mcafee without any problem. I did a couple of Dell related things that came up automatically and would not go away until I had dealt with them.

    Then I went to Windows Update. The screen indicated that I needed to restart to complete installing updates, but as far as I could see there weren't any updates yet, so I didn't do this but went to check for updates. Part-way through the check I got a message to say Windows Update needed to update itself and clicked to install this update.

    The message said Windows Update would close and re-open. Closing was immediate, re-opening took maybe the best part of an hour, with no indication of whether anything was happening. Once the program was open again I clicked to view installed updates, of which there are 28 (installed before I bought the laptop). I then clicked to go back to check for updates and just got a blank window.

    In Task Manager I could see that disk usage was mostly above 95% at this time. 2 programs were at the top of the list for usage:

    Windows System Reset Platform Operating System Updates and System. For the latter, the details were: NT Kernel and System, ntoskml.exe.

    After some time Windows System Reset ... closed down and disk usage was then very low, but I still had a blank window in Windows Update. I eventually gave up and switched off the laptop (using settings/shutdown, which worked fine), and this is where things currently are.

    Since the second refresh things have been generally slow to load, and disk usage generally high despite very little actually being done on the laptop.

    So my question is: what should I do now? I feel my current install is not satisfactory so should I try another refresh (third time lucky ) or should I try a different option. I have a Dell recovery usb and a Windows recovery usb available, plus a recent System Image. I'm not keen to try the latter as the point was to renew my system files, but this could maybe get me back to where I was before I started trying to make things better.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    United States
    Posts : 3,093
    Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit


    Sounds like you've been through the wringer. I would backup what files you don't want to lose and do a recovery. Would probably wipe the drive first also. Maybe others will have a different opinion.

    Installing all the updates can be a pain. Often have to do in blocks of 5 or so and see what takes then move on to next 5 then go back and do the ones that wouldn't take at first. Not fun for sure.

    Once you get things running the way you want take a look at the Custom Refresh tutorial.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Greece
    Posts : 341
    Win8.1 64bit, Windows 10 TP on VMWare Player


    Quote Originally Posted by popeye View Post
    I would backup what files you don't want to lose and do a recovery. Would probably wipe the drive first also.
    Thanks @popeye. Fortunately I copied everything before I did the first refresh, so if I do go the recovery route it will not be too much more work than a refresh, just setting up accounts again and copying things over (or have I missed something significant from that list??).

    Are you suggesting I use the Recovery option within Windows, or manually wipe the drive then presumably use a usb to reinstall?

    I will be interested first to see if anyone would recommend another refresh attempt.

    Quote Originally Posted by popeye View Post
    Once you get things running the way you want take a look at the Custom Refresh tutorial.
    That was the original plan for after the refresh. Maybe one day
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    United States
    Posts : 3,093
    Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit


    I was talking about the USB recovery you made when you first got the computer. And thinking wiping the drive would be the best way to ensure everything will be clean when you recover.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    San Jose - California
    Posts : 2,847
    8.1x64PWMC Ubuntu14.04x64 MintMate17x64


    Having any kind of Anti Virus software running while performing Windows Updates, Installing third party software is just asking for trouble. So often the Anti Virus will produce false positive results and disrupt Windows from doing its things.

    How did you uninstall McAfee ? Did you use their special Uninstaller or just used the Windows Uninstaller ?

    Having said that, the best way to install Windows 8.1 is always from Windows 8.1 ISO disk directly but I guess you don't have the media to do that.

    With DELL OEM. After you reset Windows back to the factory, you first need to clean up all the bloatware that they have installed such as trial software, games, McAfee etc... Run Disk cleanup, CCleaner to clean up all the orphan entries in the registry. In addition, to ensure nothing interferes with Updates, Run Msconfig and disable all non Microsoft services, reboot then run Windows Updates.

    Having up to 95% disk space used also brings the PC down to its knee so I would do what Popeye suggested above ie. reformat the drive and reset the PC back to its original state.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Try downloading a Windows 8.1 iso file using this tip: How to download the Windows 8.1 ISO

    It might be faster than doing all the updates and just might resolve the problem that you're experiencing in the first place. Providing of course you have another PC to do the download from...
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Harrisonburg, Va.
    Posts : 10,488
    Windows 8.1.1 Pro with Media Center


    Once you get everything working good, you might consider using something like Macrium Reflect to image your system on a usb drive.

    Macrium Reflect FREE Edition - Information and download

    The paid Standard version has a boot time menu option that makes it easy to use your usb drive.
    If you choose it the usb should be formatted as NTFS to get 1 big image file.
    If you format it as Fat or Fat 32 you will end up with a bunch of 4 GB files.
    Which is clumsy.
    Also use High compression.

    Just a suggestion.

    edit---added pictures---

    Click image for larger version

    Click image for larger version
    Last edited by David Bailey; 07 Nov 2014 at 16:11.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    San Jose - California
    Posts : 2,847
    8.1x64PWMC Ubuntu14.04x64 MintMate17x64


    @David,
    The boot menu option is not available in Free Version. You have the paid version.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Harrisonburg, Va.
    Posts : 10,488
    Windows 8.1.1 Pro with Media Center


    Quote Originally Posted by topgundcp View Post
    @David,
    The boot menu option is not available in Free Version. You have the paid version.
    I pointed that out in my post---

    The paid Standard version has a boot time menu option that makes it easy to use your usb drive.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Greece
    Posts : 341
    Win8.1 64bit, Windows 10 TP on VMWare Player


    Thank you for all your contributions. I'm going to try to respond (and ask all questions) in one post.

    @play2mefish: unfortunately I can't download a Windows 8.1 ISO file as I have an OEM install of Windows 8 (unless things have changed since I researched this option before). So I'm stuck with getting W8 up and running then lots of updating

    @David: I did have Macrium Reflect free on my laptop before I refreshed it, and some time ago you suggested the boot menu option to me (which was shown on the free edition, though maybe only until clicked??). Anyway, I didn't do it at the time, and, despite thinking about it as recently as a few days ago, I still didn't try this . Though it sounds like it may not have worked anyway, if it's a paid feature.

    I do have Macrium on a usb and have a System Image created a couple of months ago. But glitches had appeared with the laptop before this was made, so even though I could use this I suspect it would not solve all my problems.

    I had already been using the laptop for some time when I got into 3rd party back-up software, so didn't really use Macrium as effectively as I could have. But I do try to learn from my mistakes .

    @topgundcp: I note what you say about antivirus programs interfering with other things, but can honestly say that this hasn't been a problem for me previously. I occasionally get warnings that a program is trying to modify something but am able to okay this. And Windows updates have never been an issue. HOWEVER I recently upgraded to an enhanced version of the antivirus and, despite no problems in the past, I will bear your advice in mind.

    I uninstalled Mcafee from Programs and Features which brought up a Mcafee uninstaller (I assume since it tried to get me to activate the trial version instead of uninstalling). This took a little while but went through okay, prompting a restart after it finished.

    Moving forward:

    I have some queries about the process, which may seem basic and obvious to you people, but for me this is completely uncharted territory so please bear with me. I've highlighted specific questions in red so they don't get lost, but please comment on my statements as well if I seem to have misunderstood something:

    When I switched on today I got a message saying Windows Update has an error so something has to be done.

    It seems that no-one is advocating another refresh, so a recovery or factory reset would be the next step. As the factory reset usb was created when I first got the laptop, this seems like the best option (no time for glitches to have gotten in).

    @topgundcp and @popeye are both suggesting that I reformat the drive first, which makes sense in terms of being the only way to be sure I have a clean set of files. How exactly do I do this though?

    Once I have reformatted, I presumably have a clean and empty C drive and no OS?

    Then I assume I boot into the bios to enable me to load the factory reset from the usb (and not from the recovery partition on the hard drive - or will this also be wiped in the reformat?) and just follow the instructions?

    Once this is done @topgundcp recommends (in this order?):

    clean up all the bloatware that DELL have installed such as trial software, games, McAfee etc...

    Run Disk cleanup,

    Install and run CCleaner to clean up all the orphan entries in the registry.

    In addition, to ensure nothing interferes with Updates, Run Msconfig and disable all non Microsoft services (do I open an elevated command to run Msconfig? Will it be obvious how to disable all non Microsoft services?),

    reboot then run Windows Updates.

    At this stage I won't have any antivirus on the laptop unless I reinstall my own. Is it better to get Windows update finished before installing this or should I install but disable it?


    Is there anything I've missed above?

    and finally...

    What if it goes wrong (not that I'm a pessimist or anything )

    Edit: I've just been reading a post that mentioned a Windows Repair tool. Would that be something to try before I go through a disk reformat and factory reset?
    Last edited by SaggyMaggyPoo; 08 Nov 2014 at 06:11. Reason: Added another question!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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