Your computer is a symphony of hardware and software that performs the needs of everyday life, until it doesn’t. That symphony becomes a dead, anger-inducing silence in the form of a spinning circle stuck during Windows 10 startup. If your a victim of this travesty, then look below for a solution that can get your computer performing again.

Quick Fixes

1. Unplug USB Devices and Reboot

For some reason, USB devices can occasionally cause Windows 10 to go insane, especially a wireless mouse or wireless keyboard. Why? Your guess is as good as anyone’s. A possible fix is to completely unplug them after you’ve shut your computer down.

Important: Be gentle when you’re removing the USB devices. Do not yank by the cord.

Once you’ve removed the USB devices, go ahead and boot the device. If you were successfully brought to the login screen, you’re welcome to plug your USB devices back in. If you were disappointed by the perpetual spinning dots, then move to the next section.

2. Key Combination – Ctrl + Alt + Del

This solution is “forcing” the login screen, essentially. If you aren’t too dizzy from watching the dots spin, press and hold together the keys Ctrl + Alt + Del. This should bring up the login screen.

It’s okay to feel the need to celebrate when this solution works for you, but if your computer is constantly freezing during every startup, this solution isn’t good to fall back on every time. This could be an underlying issue that needs addressed. Take this small victory and put it towards repairing your system.

3. System Restore

Think back to when the issue starting sprouting. Was it after an update? Was it after a system change done by you or by another person or by the system itself? If you can pinpoint a timeframe, then it’s possible to rewind time and revert your computer to a time when it wasn’t suffering in silence. Important: A time machine is NOT required for this solution.

System restore is your next stop to solving the problem. But there’s a catch. Normally, your computer doesn’t keep a bunch of system restore points lying around. Half the time you’re the one who makes them. You can create a schedule for your computer, but if you weren’t bothered to create a system restore point every time a big update was needed, you probably won’t have many to work with. Regardless, here’s how you find them:

1. Open Windows Startup. Alternatively, you can press the Windows key.

2. Anywhere in the menu, type “create a restore point,” and select it. This will prompt a new window.

system restore

3. Under System Protection, select System Restore. Another window will appear and System Restore will starts its course. Click on Next.

If you’re lucky and system restore points were made, you should see a few, if any. As you can see in the screenshot below, a few system restore points were made before a critical update was made and another was made automatically.

Scan for affected programs

4. Click on the system restore point that better matches with a date BEFORE your computer was having issues. Windows even offers a helpful list of programs affected by the system restore point. Click on “Scan for affected programs” to view them. When you’re ready, click Next.

5. Confirm the system restore by selecting Finish. Your computer will shut down and reboot.

Hard Fixes

Everyone hopes that the quick fixes solve their problems. Usually it means that whatever was affecting the system was merely an inconvenience–a computer hiccup, at best. However, that isn’t always the case and hard decisions need to be made. Below you’ll find solutions that require a little more than a reboot and a few key presses.

1. Your RAM isn’t Installed Correctly

Your computer uses what’s known colloquially as “sticks” of RAM, referring to their length and thinness. If a stick of RAM was recently installed, but incorrectly, it could be causing your system to freak out. Either it isn’t installed in the right slot, or it isn’t pushed into its proper place. This needs rectified.

Important: If you aren’t comfortable doing this solution, find someone you trust who can. DO NOT handle computer components if you lack the skill as this can cause further damage to your system.

2. Startup Repair

Startup Repair mostly aims to fix corrupted data. Any kind of hardware issue, like a damaged component, isn’t going to be solved by software. That takes a certified hand to fix.

  1. Start by rebooting your computer and pressing “F11” until you’re brought to a menu with several options to choose from. Choose Troubleshoot.

2. Select Advanced Options.

startup repair

3. Afterwards, click on Startup Repair.

4. Windows will attempt to fix any errors currently present, but it isn’t always a surefire fix. It’s even possible Windows will tell you that the problem is incapable of being fixed by Windows’ Startup Repair.

If Nothing Worked…

Your computer may have incurred some damage recently that you weren’t aware of. If you were subject to an electrical storm or power failure recently, then it’s possible a component was fried, albeit in a minor way that boots the PC, but you’re stuck on the loading screen.

Your HDD (hard drive disk) or SSD (solid state drive) are susceptible to power surges. These power surges either clip the flow of electricity very briefly, or push the electricity back into the system. You can probably imagine, an influx of electrical potential energy that a system can’t handle is going to cause some issues. And that’s an understatement.

You see, HDD (and SSD) are the housing for your computers data. Your pictures, videos, operating system, funny memes–everything is housed inside your HDD or SSD. If that component is damaged or corrupted, then there isn’t much hope. Corruption, on one hand, is easier to fix. That can usually be fixed by startup repair, but if it’s an internal component within the HDD and SSD, a replacement is the end result. The solution to this is taking it to a computer shop that can fix it. They’ll be able to assess the damage and where the issue lies.