When a drive is defragmented, its contents is essentially reorganized in a way that allows data to be accessed more quickly. Defragging a heavily fragmented drive can result in stark performance gains, but the optimization process is also taxing for the drive itself.
Traditionally, Windows 10 should record the last time a drive has been optimized to ensure it is not subjected to unnecessary wear and tear.
In the case of SSDs, some experts believe it’s not sensible to perform defragmentation at all, while others have previously stated that there are benefits to optimizing a heavily fragmented SSD roughly once per month.
However, as a result of the Windows 10 2004 bug, the Optimize Drives tool is defragging drives every time the connected device is rebooted. In effect, this means many SSDs are being defragged circa 30x more frequently than is optimal.
Microsoft has acknowledged the issue, first identified in June, and has already rolled out a fix for members of its Insider program with Windows 10 Build 19042.487 (20H2).
While regular Windows 10 users wait for the fix to be tested in beta and rolled out the entire user base (which should take place sooner rather than later), it is advisable to turn off automatic defragging to prevent further damage to SSDs.
Five years ago, on July 29, 2015, Microsoft released Windows 10 for most people – and while things started off well, after half a decade it feels like that early promise hasn’t quite paid off.
It’s a shame, as when Windows 10 launched, it genuinely felt like Microsoft had managed to right the ship after the serious misfire of Windows 8.
In case you’d managed to erase Windows 8 from your memory (good work if you have), that was Microsoft’s follow up to the immensely popular Windows 7, where Microsoft threw out all the goodwill it had clawed back by releasing an operating system that was supposed to work for people on both traditional PCs and laptops, as well as touch-screen tablet devices, but ended up being such a horrendous mishmash that it disappointed everyone.
In fact, Windows 8 was such a disaster that Microsoft skipped Windows 9 altogether to distance Windows 10 from its predecessor.
So, when Windows 10 launched, many people saw it as a welcome return to form. The iconic Start menu, which had been a part of Windows since Windows 95, returned, after being dumped in Windows 8 for its unloved Start screen, which forced big, chunky icons onto everyone’s screens.
In many ways Windows 10 felt like a true successor to Windows 7. It no longer felt like two separate operating systems awkwardly taped together (though some elements of that dodgy fusion remain), and Microsoft promised some exciting new features, like advanced security, biometric Windows Hello logins and more.
As Microsoft’s blog post announcing the July 29 launch stated, “Windows 10 starts fast, resumes fast and helps enable batteries to last longer,” while Cortana, “the world’s first truly personal digital assistant,” would help you get things done just by talking to your PC. There was also a promise of the “all-new browser” Edge, which was “designed to get things done online in new ways.”
Windows 10 certainly seemed to promise a lot five years ago. The problem was, many of those promises fell completely flat.
Free for all
One of the most eye-catching elements of Windows 10 was that it was being offered as a free upgrade to people using Windows 7 and Windows 8. Considering how much Microsoft usually made by getting people to pay for an upgrade, this came as a surprise, though many people had their concerns about why Microsoft was suddenly being so generous.
And, while many people liked the fact they could upgrade to the newest version of Windows for free, some of the concerns people had were borne out.
Firstly, it was clear that Microsoft was keen to get people off Windows 7 and Windows 8 as soon as possible. It made sense, as Windows 7 was nearing its end of life, and by having most people on a single operating system, it would be easier for Microsoft to release important updates and patches.
However, many people found Microsoft’s attempts to get them to upgrade to Windows 10 heavy handed and aggressive. Pop-ups encouraging people to upgrade were a common annoyance, and many people found that even if they didn’t want to upgrade, their version of Windows would download Windows 10 anyway.
While Microsoft did end up making it so users have slightly better control over what kind of data Windows 10 shares about you (though concerns still remain), that, along with Microsoft’s forcing of the new operating system on people, meant Windows 10 left a bad first impression for people.
While Windows 10 launched five years ago with some ambitious new features, many of them didn’t live up to the hype. Most noticeably of all, there was Cortana. A refugee from Microsoft’s ill-fated Windows Phone mobile OS, Cortana was supposed to compete with the likes of Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant. However, while a virtual assistant makes sense on a mobile device like a smartphone, on a desktop or laptop, it just didn’t feel natural.
Worse still, was Microsoft’s attempts to force Cortana onto people, adding it into the Start menu search box – and annoyingly popping up during the installation process of Windows 10. Anyone who has bought a new laptop, turned it on and found Cortana’s grating voice chirping away as you try to set up the damned thing, will understand quite how annoying it is. There were worrying flashbacks to Microsoft’s previous pest of an assistant – Clippy.
So, most people ignored Cortana as best they could, and it seems Microsoft has cottoned on to the fact, as with every update it seems to remove a bit more of Cortana from the OS. We’d almost feel a bit sorry for her, if she wasn’t so frustrating.
Taking it to the Edge
Another fail from the launch of Windows 10 was Microsoft’s Edge web browser. While many people thought Microsoft couldn’t come up with a more disliked web browser than its Internet Explorer, the company defied expectations with Edge.
While there were many improvements it brought over Internet Explorer, people just did not warm to it. Some websites didn’t play nice with its new engine, and many people were wary of using a web browser by Microsoft after their experiences with IE.
That didn’t stop Microsoft trying to make Edge loved, however, though in true Microsoft style, it went about it in a heavy handed way. Edge was baked into so many parts of Windows 10 that even if you chose a different web browser (as many people did, with Google’s Chrome becoming the most-used browser in the world), Windows 10 would still try to open up web pages in Edge.
Windows 10 would also have the habit of showing messages trying to dissuade you from changing your web browser. It all felt a little desperate, and instead of convincing people to stick with Edge, it managed to do the opposite and make them even more determined to jump ship.
Thankfully, Edge’s unpopularity became apparent to Microsoft, and in 2018 the company remade Edge using the Chromium web engine – the same one as Chrome. This brought a number of benefits to both Edge and Chrome, and it’s one of the better examples of Microsoft listening to the concerns of its users and doing something about it.
While Windows 10 first appeared to be a break from Windows 8’s ambition to be both a desktop and mobile operating system, there are certain parts of the software where it feels Microsoft hasn’t given up. After all, Windows 10 is available on touchscreen devices like the Surface Pro 7 tablet.
And, although it’s done in a better way than in Windows 8 (it certainly couldn’t have been done much worse), there are still times when Windows 10 tries to do both – and fails.
For a start, one of Windows 8’s biggest problems was adding new apps that did the same thing as other windows or applications, but not as well. For example, the Control Panel is an easy to use tool that’s been part of Windows for decades, and lets you change various settings.
In both Windows 8 and Windows 10, there is also the Settings app, which – confusingly – offers some of the options and features that the Control Panel does, but in a more simplistic way. This means some options aren’t included, and that just ends up confusing users who are looking for certain setting.
And, while the return of the Start menu was welcomed by pretty much everyone, Microsoft still tried to keep some of Windows 8’s Start screen – with distractingly large Live Tiles, which are supposed to show interactive information of the app, but end up being mainly ignored by both users and app developers.
Microsoft also began adding adverts and pre-installed apps and games that no one wants – another reminder of Windows 10’s loose interpretation of ‘free’.
Then there’s the Microsoft Store – which was once the Windows Store. This is an app store similar to the Apple App store and Google Play. While ‘walled garden’ app stores are a thing most of us put up with on mobile devices, it’s a harder sell on PC, where users are used to downloading and buying applications and games from wherever they want.
And so it came to pass that Microsoft struggled to get people to use the Microsoft Store to download and buy apps. It didn’t help that the interface isn’t great, some apps that are free to download elsewhere cost money on the Microsoft Store, and there are annoying problems with downloading games, where if a download fails when you’re trying to download a 50GB file, you have to start downloading the entire thing again.
Games from the Microsoft Store also don’t allow mods – something that getting the game from a different store, like Steam – allows.
Even users who have to use the Microsoft Store – for example if they are using Windows 10 in S Mode, which limits you to just downloading apps via the store – hate the experience, as many popular apps don’t have UWP versions on the Microsoft Store.
Microsoft’s UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps were designed as a way of allowing developers to make applications that could work on both Windows 10 and Windows Phone devices, as well as on Xbox games consoles, but unfortunately, not many app makers were too keen on the format, leaving the Microsoft Store to feel a little barren.
Perhaps Windows 10’s biggest failing these five years is a rather recent one – a string of problematic updates that have been breaking more things than they fix.
We’ve been documenting them, and it’s quite concerning how almost every update for Windows 10 ends up causing issues for some people. Now, we must stress that not everyone experiences these problems, and very few experience every problem, but there’s a large number of people have found that their PC has begun misbehaving after an update.
It’s certainly given the impression that there’s something wrong with current Windows 10 leadership. Rather than having people excited about new updates that bring new features, many people now approach the Windows Update tool with trepidation. Could this be the update that breaks my PC?
Not all bad, though
I’ve suddenly realized that in this retrospective of the first five years of Windows 10’s life, I’ve been rather negative. And, while Windows 10 certainly does have its issues, and has disappointed in some respects, it’s not all that bad.
For a start, it really is a big improvement over Windows 8. It makes better use of modern hardware, so it boots a lot faster than previous versions, and generally feels a lot snappier.
And while I can’t say I’ve not seen a dreaded Blue Screen of Death during my time with Windows 10, the operating system certainly feels more solid than previous versions.
Also, despite the existence of the Microsoft Store, Windows 10 is still a pretty open platform with a huge range of apps and games available for it. Along with DirectX 12 support, Windows 10 is by far the best operating system for PC gamers.
Windows 10 has also added some great features that weren’t even hinted at five years ago, such as the Windows Subsystem for Linux.
Microsoft has also brought its excellent Xbox Games Pass subscription to PC. For a very reasonable monthly subscription, this gives you access to hundreds of games, and offers incredible value for money. The only real catch is that the games have to be downloaded via the Microsoft Store.
And while Windows 10 updates can be hit and miss these days, Microsoft has kept to its promise of releasing major Windows 10 updates at least once a year, adding big changes and new features and all for free.
So, after 5 years, Windows 10 may not be quite where we – or Microsoft – wants it to be. But despite our annoyances with it, there’s a lot to be positive about – and a lot to look forward to in the next five years of Windows 10.
Microsoft sometimes distributes important security updates through the Microsoft Store. That’s the lesson we’re learning in July 2020, when Microsoft sent an important update for Windows 10’s HEVC codecs not via Windows Update but via the Store.
Yes, Security Updates Can Come from the Store
This isn’t a huge surprise, as the codecs are installed via the Store in the first place—either by you or by your PC manufacturer. However, if you’ve disabled automatic app updates from the Microsoft Store, your Windows 10 PC will have the old, vulnerable codecs installed until you open the Store and install the update manually.
It’s easy to see how many Windows 10 PCs may never install this important security update.
How to Enable Automatic Store Updates on Windows 10
To prevent this sort of problem in the future, we recommend enabling automatic app updates from the Store. To do so, open the Microsoft Store app from your Start menu or taskbar. You can press the Windows key to open the Start menu, type “Store” to search for it, and press “Enter” to launch it.
In the Store, click the menu button at the top-right corner of the window. It looks like a “…”. Select “Settings.”
Ensure the “Update apps automatically” option at the top of the window is set to “On.” You’re done. You can now close the Store.
How to Limit the Automatic Updates
Want to stop Windows 10 from downloading unnecessary app updates in the background? Consider uninstalling apps you don’t use.
You can right-click many of Windows 10’s included apps in the Start menu and select “Uninstall” to remove them. If you don’t use Microsoft’s Mail app, feel free to remove it.
Windows won’t download updates for apps you don’t have installed. If you want to use the app in the future, you can re-install it from the Store.
If you don’t want to worry about updates for these codecs, you could also uninstall them and just use a third-party video player like VLC instead. You’d just have to update VLC or whatever video player you choose.
However, we don’t really know which apps included with Windows 10 will get security updates via the Store in the future.
Nothing is as frustrating as losing valuable information from your hard drive which can happen due to human error or hardware failure. There may still be a chance to recover some of those files, though, since a lot of file deletions involve deleting the file index until that block of storage is overwritten. Just a simple “delete” command in Windows, for example, is not enough to irrevocably make files unrecoverable. To do that, you need to securely wipe the drive by either writing a bunch of zeroes or other data to it over several iterations or physically destroy the drive. The point is is that if you’ve accidentally lost some of your valuable files, there is still a chance you can restore them. Microsoft just made that slightly easier to do with the release of the Windows File Recovery tool.
Windows File Recovery is available as a free app in Microsoft Store. Though, it’s not an app in the common sense of the term since it’s a command-line tool. Although it uses a CLI interface, it is still very newbie-friendly. After launching the tool, you have options to target files you want to recover by name, paths, or extensions. Microsoft says Windows File Recovery can recover data not only from the hard drive installed on your computer but from external storage, too. This means you can use the tool on USB drives, memory cards, external SSDs, and other storage devices, though Microsoft recommends using Signature Mode for recovering files from external storage. There are also Default and Segment modes for recovering files from NTFS-formatted drives. As of now, the tool supports drives formatted in NTFS, FAT, exFAT, and ReFS file systems and various file extensions such as PNGs, PDFs, MP3 and MP4s, and many more.
You can find more information about how to use the tool, what it’ll work on, and what files it can recover from Microsoft’s support page. You can download Windows File Recovery for free from the Microsoft Store linked below. Just make sure that you’re running Windows 10 2004 or later to install the app.
Windows 10 May 2020 Update is causing more problems, this time for those using the popular Chrome browser, who are being logged out of their account every time they reboot their PC – and this is reportedly happening with other software too, like Battle.net.
As Windows Latest spotted, there are multiple reports of this bug on Google’s own support forum (linked here: 1, 2, 3) and on Reddit, with anecdotal indications that this gremlin not only affects the Chrome browser, but also Battle.net, and possibly Edge.
So it seems that this is an issue with Windows 10 and the latest upgrade, rather than with Chrome. Browser cookies are apparently being deleted randomly, and users are being logged out of their account(s), and forced to log back in repeatedly.
As one person observed: “I have the same issue. Chrome, also Battle.net application like a previous poster mentioned. What’s going on? Everyday when I start my computer I’m logged out of everything.”
Sync is also being errantly paused for Chrome, and another user has said that the login problem manifests with Microsoft Edge as well sometimes (although a different complainant alleges that his Edge browser is fine, whereas Chrome most definitely isn’t).
Spanner in the works
So it appears to be a rather flaky bug, and indeed other folks are reporting that it happens to them every time they close Chrome, as opposed to every time they turn on (or restart) their Windows 10 PC.
It would seem, then, that there’s a fairly hefty spanner in the works somewhere, and hopefully both Google and Microsoft are looking into this issue, and we’ll hear more about what’s going on, and perhaps a potential solution, soon.
We’ve contacted Microsoft to ask if the company is aware of or investigating the reported login disruptions, and will update this story if we hear back.
Windows 10 users can run the Linux distribution of their choice on the kernel.
This preview build also brings support for nested virtualization on PCs with AMD processors. The support allows IT pros to use Hyper-V containers inside a virtual machine. Until now Windows 10 only supported nested virtualization on Intel processors.
Microsoft says nested virtualization has been tested on AMD’s first-generation Ryzen/Epyc processor. Linux kernel virtual-machine guest support will be added in the future.
Microsoft’s previous preview, which was released last week, changed the behavior of Storage Sense disk cleanup tool to stop it automatically deleting the Downloads folder if it was synced to a cloud provider.
That release didn’t contain any bug fixes, but the new preview brings several of them, including a fix for an issue where PCs booting from eMMC storage bugchecked when waking from hibernate.
Build 19645 also fixes a bug that caused taskbar preview thumbnails not to render properly and another that failed to open the handwriting input panel in certain text fields when tapped with a pen.
It also fixes a glitch causing Windows Hello Setup to crash if facial recognition was already set up and then Improve Recognition was selected.