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Windows 11 problems: how to fix the most common issues

Having trouble with Windows 11? We can help

Man having Windows 11 problems with his laptop
(Image: © Marjan Apostolovic / Shutterstock)

If you are experiencing Windows 11 problems, then we can help, as on this page you'll find fixes to the most common Windows 11 issues out there.

Because Windows 11 is still in its early days, following its launch at the beginning of October (we show you how to download and install Windows 11 if you've not yet done it), some people have been encountering problems since upgrading, which is an unfortunate reality of new operating system launches.

We'll be monitoring the rollout of Windows 11, and if any big issues emerge, we'll try to find the solution and update this guide.

One of the most widespread issues, and the most embarrassing, involves PCs with modern AMD processors suffering from a noticeable dip  in performance, especially when gaming. The good news is that AMD and Microsoft have worked on a fix, and we explain how to implement it below.

If you're suffering from a Windows 11 problem that we haven’t covered, follow us on Twitter and let us know and we’ll do what we can to find a solution. We’ll also continue to update this article with all the latest problems and fixes when we hear about them.

Windows 11 installation problems

How to fix Windows 11 installation problems

If you're encountering problems installing Windows 11 via Windows 10's update tool, don't panic. Windows 10 has a built-in troubleshooter that can help identify any problems. This can also reset the Windows Update app, which can help kickstart the installation.

To do this, click the Start menu, then click the cog icon on the left, which will open up the Settings window. Click ‘Update & Security’ then ‘Troubleshoot’. Click on ‘Windows Update’ then ‘Run the troubleshooter’ and follow the instructions, and click ‘Apply this fix’ if the troubleshooter finds a solution. 

Check the Windows 11 system requirements

To install Windows 11, or to ensure that it runs correctly, you'll need to make sure that your PC matches the following Windows 11 minimum system requirements:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with at least two cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or SoC
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • System Firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable
  • TPM: Trusted Platform Module 2.0
  • Graphics Card: DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
  • Display: 720p, 8-bit per color channel, at least 9-inch diagonal
  • Internet Connection and Microsoft Account: Windows 11 Home requires an active internet connection and a Microsoft Account to complete initial, first-use setup of the operating system, or when switching a device out of Windows 11 Home in S-mode.

For a complete list of additional, non-essential requirements, check out Microsoft's Windows 11 specification page.

These are the minimum specs required for running Windows 11, but for the best Windows 11 experience, we recommend you install it on a device that's more powerful. The 4GB RAM requirement is especially low – we wouldn't recommend trying to run Windows 11 on anything with less than 8GB of RAM.

Microsoft health checker, Windows 11

(Image credit: Future)

Windows 11 compatibility check 

In case your system meets the above-mentioned criteria, you need to run a health check to keep your system ready to install Windows 11. 

  • To run the health check you need to first download and install Microsoft's PC Health Check app
  • Once installed, run the program
  • Click on the blue coloured “Check Now” button on the Windows 11 banner
  • If your system is compatible, you’ll get a pop-up stating “This PC will run Windows 11"

Windows 11 won't run due to TPM

In case Microsoft's Windows 11 upgrade checker tells you that your PC isn't supported but it meets all the other requirements then you need to check your BIOS to enable TPM

Almost every modern CPU comes with TPM support. In case you have an Intel CPU then you need to switch to TPM and for AMD you need to check PSP fTPM in the BIOS. Once done, you can run Microsoft's health checker app to confirm the status. This should allow Windows 11 to install.

You can check the status of TPM support in your PC buy doing the following:

  • Press Windows key + R
  • When the box appears, type tpm.msc to open the Trusted Platform Module Management window
  • Look for a sub-window titled TPM Manufacturer Information and check under Specification Version to see what TPM version your device has

Error message saying that Windows 11 cannot be installed

(Image credit: Microsoft)

How to upgrade to Windows 11 without TPM 2.0

If you cannot install Windows 11 because your PC does not have TPM 2.0, then you'll get an error message when trying to install it that says your PC doesn't meet Windows 11 system requirements.

If this happens and you still want to install Windows 11, there is a way to get around the TPM requirement, but this should only be done by people who are confident about the risks it involves.

It's a complex process, so read our how to upgrade to Windows 11 without TPM 2.0 guide for the full rundown, including a look at the risks involved.

Free up disk space

As with previous operating systems, Windows 11 requires a certain amount of hard drive space to successfully download and install. If your main hard drive (where Windows 10 is installed, usually the C: drive), is almost full, then you'll encounter problems when trying to install Windows 11.

The Windows 11 requires 64GB of storage.

So, the first thing you should do if Windows 11 install fails is to check your drive space in Windows Explorer. If it is running out of space, try typing in "Disk Clean-up" in the search box on the taskbar and select the system disk (usually the C: drive).

Free up space to fix Windows 11 problems

Click ‘OK’ then select the tick boxes of the files you want to delete. These should be safe to remove, but remember you can't retrieve them once they're gone. You’ll be told how much space you’ll save. Click ‘OK’ then ‘Delete files’ to remove the files. If you want to create more space, click ‘Clean up system files’. 

Once that's done, try downloading and installing Windows 11 again.

Antivirus software on a laptop

Disable anti-virus software

Antivirus software is certainly helpful to have, but it can sometimes cause problems when trying to install Windows 11.

If you have antivirus software installed, try disabling that before trying to install Windows 11, as that may fix the problem. You should then enable it and use it normally once the installation has completed.

You may even need to uninstall the software temporarily. Just make sure that you reinstall it once the update installs successfully.

How to fix general Windows 11 problems

Wi-Fi modem in home

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Internet is slow after upgrading to Windows 11

New reports are emerging about some people experiencing poor Wi-Fi performance after installing Windows 11.

It seems streaming movies, using VPNs, and general internet browsing may be slow, and it seems to be affecting people using Intel Killer hardware.

Microsoft is aware of this issue, and will release a Windows 11 cumulative update on October 12 to hopefully fix the problem.

Until then, you could try using an external USB Wi-Fi dongle if you have one.

Windows 11

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Unable to search in Windows 11 Start Menu

There's currently an issue with the new Start Menu search bar that prevents it from being typed into. There are other ways to perform a search on Windows 11, but for anyone bringing this habit with them over from a previous OS it's a nuisance to change.

Microsoft has also acknowledged the problem, stating that opening the Run window will enable you to type into the search bar again. You can do this by hitting Win+R on your keyboard, and when it appears you can close it as you don't actually need to type or run anything. Simply opening and closing the program seems to resolve the search box issue.

It isn't clear when we can expect a patch to officially correct the bug, but given this is a rather funky workaround it's likely something more permanent is currently being worked on.

File Explorer still looks like Windows 10

Some people have been complaining that since upgrading to Windows 11, the File Explorer still looks the same as Windows 10.

This is actually a skin that replicated the older Windows 10 layout, but it's unclear why some users are getting this as a default. Thankfully, there is a simple fix:

  • On the top of the File Explorer taskbar, select 'View'
  • Select 'Options' on the far right, and head into the next 'View' 
  • You should now see a list. Look for the option that reads 'Launch folder windows in a separate process'. Ensure the box next to it is unchecked
  • Apply the changes. File Explorer should now initiate a restart

After File Explorer has restarted you should now see the redesigned layout for Windows 11.

Windows 11 screenshot

(Image credit: Future / Microsoft)

The Widgets board looks empty

The Widgets board is a new part of Windows 11 that holds small apps, known as 'Widgets' that give you quick access to information, such as news and events in your calendar.

However, some people have found that the Widget board appears empty (it can be brought up be swiping from the left-hand side of the screen or pressing Windows + W on your keyboard).

Screenshot of Windows 11 Widget board

(Image credit: Future / Microsoft)

To fix this, click the icon in the top right-hand corner of the Widgets board, then click 'Sign out'. 

Next, sign in again and the Widgets should appear.

Windows 11 memory issues

There are reports that when users close File Explorer in Windows 11, it remains in RAM, and after a while that can cause memory issues that slow down the operating system.

Microsoft hasn't acknowledged this problem yet, but there is a workaround. Restart File Explorer (in the Task Manager, you’ll find Windows Explorer listed as a process, and if you click on it, there’s a ‘Restart’ button bottom-right), or just reboot your PC. 

In the Task Manager you can also see how much memory that File Explorer is consuming.

Windows 11 Start menu

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Windows 11 Start menu is unresponsive

Some readers have contacted us about their Start menus no longer working after upgrading to Windows 11.

If this happens when using Windows 11, try restarting your PC. With the Start menu out of action, you can do this by switching to the Windows 11 desktop by pressing the Windows Key + D on your keyboard, then pressing Alt + F4. A window will appear and you can select 'Restart' and click 'OK'.

If the Start menu remains unresponsive after a restart, then you may need to use the DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) and SFC (System File Checker) tools.

To do so, press Windows Key + R to open the Run box, and type in:

cmd

Then, press Ctril + Shift + Enter to open the Command Prompt in with Administrator privileges (which you'll need to run these tools).

In the Command Prompt, enter the following: 

DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealt

This should clean up any corrupt files from the Windows 11 upgrade, and may take some time.

Once it has finished, enter the following text into the Command Prompt:

sfc /scannow

Press Enter on your keyboard and the tool will scan to check all the files are correct. Once done, your Start menu should work again.

If that doesn't work, some people have found by creating a new user account on the PC, and using that, has fixed the issue. It's not ideal, however, so hopefully Microsoft will release a fix for this Windows 11 problem soon.

Image of an AMD chip

(Image credit: Christian Wiediger/Shutterstock)

Poor Windows 11 performance with AMD processors

One of the most publicised Windows 11 problems has been with gaming PCs running AMD processors, with people complaining that they have seen as much as a 15% drop in gaming performance after installing the new operating system.

This is obviously a big concern, especially as Microsoft was touting how good Windows 11 will be for gaming. The good news is that Microsoft and AMD have been working hard on a fix, which is now available.

There are two fixes listed on AMD's website. The first addresses the issue where functional L3 cache latency increases in some applications. For this problem, Microsoft has released a new Windows 11 software update, KB5006746, which you should download and install. You can do this via the Windows Update app in Windows 11.

AMD has also released a Chipset Driver package that fixes an issue where 8-core AMD processors and higher were seeing reduced performance due to incorrectly scheduled threads.

If you have a modern AMD CPU and have found your PC's performance to have been impacted by installing Windows 11, then make sure you apply both these updates, which will hopefully fix the issue.

Matt Hanson

Senior Computing editor

Matt (Twitter) is TechRadar's Senior Computing editor. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. If you're encountering a problem or need some advice with your PC or Mac, drop him a line on Twitter.