Start menu troubleshooting guidance

Applies to:   Windows 10

Start failures can be organized into these categories:

  • Deployment/Install issues - Easiest to identify but difficult to recover. This failure is consistent and usually permanent. Reset, restore from backup, or rollback to recover.
  • Performance issues - More common with older hardware, low-powered machines. Symptoms include: High CPU utilization, disk contention, memory resources. This makes Start slow to respond. Behavior is intermittent depending on available resources.
  • Crashes - Also easy to identify. Crashes in Shell Experience Host or related can be found in System or Application event logs. This can be a code defect or related to missing or altered permissions to files or registry keys by a program or incorrect security tightening configurations. Determining permissions issues can be time consuming but a SysInternals tool called Procmon will show Access Denied. The other option is to get a dump of the process when it crashes and depending on comfort level, review the dump in the debugger, or have support review the data.
  • Hangs - in Shell Experience host or related. These are the hardest issues to identify as there are few events logged, but behavior is typically intermittent or recovers with a reboot. If a background application or service hangs, Start won't have resources to respond in time. Clean boot may help identify if the issue is related to additional software. Procmon is also useful in this scenario.
  • Other issues - Customization, domain policies, deployment issues.

Basic troubleshooting

When troubleshooting basic Start issues (and for the most part, all other Windows apps), there are a few things to check if they aren't working as expected. For issues where the Start menu or subcomponent isn't working, you can do some quick tests to narrow down where the issue may reside.

Check the OS and update version

  • Is the system running the latest Feature and Cumulative Monthly update?
  • Did the issue start immediately after an update? Ways to check:
    • PowerShell:[System.Environment]::OSVersion.Version
    • WinVer from CMD.exe

Check if Start is installed

  • If Start fails immediately after a feature update, on thing to check is if the App package failed to install successfully.

  • If Start was working and just fails intermittently, it's likely that Start is installed correctly, but the issue occurs downstream. The way to check for this problem is to look for output from these two PowerShell commands:

    • get-AppXPackage -Name Microsoft.Windows.ShellExperienceHost
    • get-AppXPackage -Name Microsoft.Windows.Cortana

      Screeshot of an example of the cmdlet output.

      Failure messages will appear if they aren't installed

  • If Start isn't installed, then the fastest resolution is to revert to a known good configuration. This can be rolling back the update, resetting the PC to defaults (where there's a choice to save to delete user data), or restoring from backup. No method is supported to install Start Appx files. The results are often problematic and unreliable.

Check if Start is running

If either component is failing to start on boot, reviewing the event logs for errors or crashes during boot may pin point the problem. Booting with MSCONFIG and using a selective or diagnostic startup option will eliminate and/or identify possible interference from additional applications.

  • get-process -name shellexperiencehost
  • get-process -name searchui

If it's installed but not running, test booting into safe mode or use MSCONFIG to eliminate third-party or additional drivers and applications.

Check whether the system a clean install or upgrade

  • Is this system an upgrade or clean install?
    • Run test-path "$env:windir\panther\miglog.xml"
    • If that file doesn't exist, the system is a clean install.
  • Upgrade issues can be found by running test-path "$env:windir\panther\miglog.xml"

Check if Start is registered or activated

  • Export the following Event log to CSV and do a keyword search in a text editor or spreadsheet:
    • Microsoft-Windows-TWinUI/Operational for Microsoft.Windows.ShellExperienceHost or Microsoft.Windows.Cortana
      • "Package was not found"
      • "Invalid value for registry"
      • "Element not found"
      • "Package could not be registered"

If these events are found, Start isn't activated correctly. Each event will have more detail in the description and should be investigated further. Event messages can vary.

Other things to consider

When did the problem start?

  • Top issues for Start menu failure are triggered
    • After an update
    • After installation of an application
    • After joining a domain or applying a domain policy
  • Many of those issues are found to be
    • Permission changes on Registry keys or folders
    • Start or related component crashes or hangs
    • Customization failure

To narrow down the problem further, it's good to note:

  • What is the install background?

    • Was this a deployment, install from media, other
    • Using customizations?
      • DISM
      • Group Policy or MDM
      • copyprofile
      • Sysprep
      • Other
  • Domain-joined

    • Group policy settings that restrict access or permissions to folders or registry keys can cause issues with Start performance.
    • Some Group Policies intended for Windows 7 or older have been known to cause issues with Start
    • Untested Start Menu customizations can cause unexpected behavior by typically not complete Start failures.
  • Is the environment virtualized?

    • VMware
    • Citrix
    • Other

Check Event logs that record Start issues:

  • System Event log

  • Application Event log

  • Microsoft/Windows/Shell-Core*

  • Microsoft/Windows/Apps/

  • Microsoft-Windows-TWinUI*

  • Microsoft/Windows/AppReadiness*

  • Microsoft/Windows/AppXDeployment*

  • Microsoft-Windows-PushNotification-Platform/Operational

  • Microsoft-Windows-CoreApplication/Operational

  • Microsoft-Windows-ShellCommon-StartLayoutPopulation*

  • Microsoft-Windows-CloudStore*

  • Check for crashes that may be related to Start (explorer.exe, taskbar, and so on)

    • Application log event 1000, 1001
    • Check WER reports
      • C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\WER\ReportArchive\
      • C:\ProgramData\Micrt\Windowsosof\WER\ReportQueue\

If there is a component of Start that is consistently crashing, capture a dump that can be reviewed by Microsoft Support.

Common errors and mitigation

The following list provides information about common errors you might run into with Start Menu, as well as steps to help you mitigate them.

Symptom: Apps using Office APIs with Office Click-to-Run installed may cause the Start Menu and other shell components to fail

You may experience various issues related to the Windows Shell on devices that are running Office Click-to-Run, along with some third party applications that use Office APIs:

  • Event 1000 is logged in the Application event log. The event log reports that an application crashes for StartMenuExperienceHost.exe, ShellExperienceHost.exe, SearchUI.exe, with an error code 0xc000027b / -1073741189.

  • Errors in the Microsoft-Windows-AppModel-State event log mentioning the following error with various package names:

    Triggered repair of state locations because operation SettingsInitialize against package Microsoft.AAD.BrokerPlugin_cw5n1h2txyewy hit error -2147024891.

  • The Windows Start Menu does not respond to mouse clicks or the Windows key.

  • Windows Search does not respond to mouse clicks on pressing the Search button or Windows+S key.


Affected devices may have damaged registry keys or data which might affect apps using Microsoft Office APIs to integrate with Windows, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook, or Outlook Calendar. This may occur if application packages permissions are being removed from the following registry path:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders



Barco has reported to have fixed this issue starting their App version 4.27.2. However, the affected devices may need to follow the steps mentioned in the workaround section.

For more information, see Unresponsive Windows taskbar or user shell folder permissions issues with ClickShare App Calendar integration.

To workaround the issue, follow these steps:

  1. Download the scripts to fix the issue when it happens, though the scripts cannot prevent the issue from re-occurring.

  2. Open a Powershell prompt under the affected user identity, and run

  • If the script can't access the registry key because the registry permissions are wiped out, then open an elevated Powershell prompt and run the following command:

    • FixUserShellFolderPermissions.ps1 -allprofiles
  • If an application doesn't work, you may need to register the shell packages by running from the affected user the command

    • FixUserShellFolderPermissions.ps1 -register

Prevent the issue from reoccurring

  • Ensure the ClickShare App is updated to version 4.27.2 or higher.
  • Ensure the Calendar integration is disabled (default disabled as of version 4.27.2).
  • Prevent the applications from running at startup or configure the applications to Start on-demand.


Microsoft is aware of this issue and is working to resolve it in an upcoming Office update. We will post more information in this article when it becomes available.

Symptom: Start Menu doesn't respond on Windows 2012 R2, Windows 10, or Windows 2016


Background Tasks Infrastructure Service (BrokerInfrastructure) service isn't started.


Ensure that Background Tasks Infrastructure Service is set to automatic startup in Services MMC.

If Background Tasks Infrastructure Service fails to start, verify that the Power Dependency Coordinator Driver (PDC) driver and registry key aren't disabled or deleted. If either are missing, restore from backup or the installation media.

To verify the PDC Service, run C:\>sc query pdc in a command prompt. The results will be similar to the following:

STATE          : 4 RUNNING
WIN32_EXIT_CODE     : 0 (0x0)
SERVICE_EXIT_CODE    : 0 (0x0)
CHECKPOINT       : 0x0
WAIT_HINT        : 0x0

The PDC service uses pdc.sys located in the %WinDir%\system32\drivers.

The PDC registry key is: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\pdc Description="@%SystemRoot%\system32\drivers\pdc.sys,-101" DisplayName="@%SystemRoot%\system32\drivers\pdc.sys,-100" ErrorControl=dword:00000003 Group="Boot Bus Extender" ImagePath=hex(2):73,00,79,00,73,00,74,00,65,00,6d,00,33,00,32,00,5c,00,64,00,

In addition to the listed dependencies for the service, Background Tasks Infrastructure Service requires the Power Dependency Coordinator Driver to be loaded. If the PDC doesn't load at boot, Background Tasks Infrastructure Service will fail and affect Start Menu.

Events for both PDC and Background Tasks Infrastructure Service will be recorded in the event logs. PDC shouldn't be disabled or deleted. BrokerInfrastructure is an automatic service. This Service is required for all these operating Systems as running to have a stable Start Menu.


You cannot stop this automatic service when machine is running (C:\windows\system32\svchost.exe -k DcomLaunch -p).

Symptom: After upgrading from 1511 to 1607 versions of Windows, the Group Policy "Remove All Programs list from the Start Menu" may not work


There was a change in the All Apps list between Windows 10, versions 1511 and 1607. These changes mean the original Group Policy and corresponding registry key no longer apply.


This issue was resolved in the June 2017 updates. Update Windows 10, version 1607, to the latest cumulative or feature updates.


When the Group Policy is enabled, the desired behavior also needs to be selected. By default, it is set to None.

Symptom: Application tiles like Alarm, Calculator, and Edge are missing from Start menu and the Settings app fails to open on Windows 10, version 1709 when a local user profile is deleted

Screenshots that show download icons on app tiles and missing app tiles.


This issue is known. The first-time sign-in experience isn't detected and does not trigger the install of some apps.


This issue has been fixed for Windows 10, version 1709 in KB 4089848 March 22, 2018—KB4089848 (OS Build 16299.334)

Symptom: When attempting to customize Start Menu layout, the customizations do not apply or results are not expected


There are two main reasons for this issue:

  • Incorrect format: Editing the xml file incorrectly by adding an extra space or spaces, entering a bad character, or saving in the wrong format.

    • To tell if the format is incorrect, check for "Event ID: 22" in the "Applications and Services\Microsoft\Windows\ShellCommon-StartLayoutPopulation\Operational" log.
    • Event ID 22 is logged when the xml is malformed, meaning the specified file simply isn't valid xml.
    • When editing the xml file, it should be saved in UTF-8 format.
  • Unexpected information: This occurs when possibly trying to add a tile via an unexpected or undocumented method.

    • "Event ID: 64" is logged when the xml is valid but has unexpected values.
    • For example: The following error occurred while parsing a layout xml file:

      The attribute 'LayoutCustomizationRestrictiontype' on the element '{}DefaultLayoutOverride' is not defined in the DTD/Schema.

XML files can and should be tested locally on a Hyper-V or other virtual machine before deployment or application by Group Policy

Symptom: Start menu no longer works after a PC is refreshed using F12 during startup


If a user is having problems with a PC, it can be refreshed, reset, or restored. Refreshing the PC is a beneficial option because it maintains personal files and settings. When users have trouble starting the PC, "Change PC settings" in Settings isn't accessible. So, to access the System Refresh, users may use the F12 key at startup. Refreshing the PC finishes, but Start Menu is not accessible.


This issue is known and was resolved in a cumulative update released August 30, 2018.


Install corrective updates; a fix is included in the September 11, 2018-KB4457142 release.

Symptom: The All Apps list is missing from Start menu


"Remove All Programs list from the Start menu" Group Policy is enabled.


Disable the "Remove All Programs list from the Start menu" Group Policy.

Symptom: Tiles are missing from the Start Menu when using Windows 10, version 1703 or older, Windows Server 2016, and Roaming User Profiles with a Start layout


There are two different Start Menu issues in Windows 10:

  • Administrator configured tiles in the start layout fail to roam.
  • User-initiated changes to the start layout are not roamed.

Specifically, behaviors include

  • Applications (apps or icons) pinned to the start menu are missing.
  • Entire tile window disappears.
  • The start button fails to respond.
  • If a new roaming user is created, the first sign-in appears normal, but on subsequent sign-ins, tiles are missing.

Screenshot of an example of a working layout.

Working layout on first sign-in of a new roaming user profile

Screenshot of an example of a failing layout.

Failing layout on subsequent sign-ins


A timing issue exists where the Start Menu is ready before the data is pulled locally from the Roaming User Profile. The issue doesn't occur on first logons of a new roaming user, as the code path is different and slower.


This issue has been resolved in Windows 10, versions 1703 and 1607, cumulative updates as of March 2017.

Symptom: Start Menu layout customizations are lost after upgrading to Windows 10, version 1703


Before the upgrade:

Screenshot of an example of Start screen with customizations applied.


In the screenshot, Corporate Applications and Utilities are group policy controlled, and the tiles under these items are user pinned.

After the upgrade the user pinned tiles are missing:

Screenshot of an example of Start screen with previously pinned tiles missing.

Additionally, users may see blank tiles if sign-in was attempted without network connectivity.

Screenshot of an example of blank tiles.


This issue was fixed in the October 2017 update.

Symptom: Tiles are missing after upgrade from Windows 10, version 1607 to version 1709 for users with Roaming User Profiles (RUP) enabled and managed Start Menu layout with partial lockdown


The April 2018 LCU must be applied to Windows 10, version 1709 before a user logs on.

Symptom: Start Menu and/or Taskbar layout customizations are not applied if CopyProfile option is used in an answer file during Sysprep


CopyProfile is no longer supported when attempting to customize Start Menu or taskbar with a layoutmodification.xml.

Symptom: Start Menu issues with Tile Data Layer corruption


Windows 10, version 1507 through the release of version 1607 uses a database for the Tile image information. This is called the Tile Data Layer database. (The feature was deprecated in Windows 10 1703.)


There are steps you can take to fix the icons, first is to confirm that is the issue that needs to be addressed.

  1. The App or Apps work fine when you select the tiles.
  2. The tiles are blank, have a generic placeholder icon, have the wrong or strange title information.
  3. The app is missing, but listed as installed via PowerShell and works if you launch via URI.
    • Example: windows-feedback://
  4. In some cases, Start can be blank, and Action Center and Cortana don't launch.


Corruption recovery removes any manual pins from Start. Apps should still be visible, but you'll need to re-pin any secondary tiles and/or pin app tiles to the main Start view. Aps that you have installed that are completely missing from "all apps" is unexpected, however. That implies the re-registration didn't work.

Open a command prompt, and run the following command:

C:\Windows\System32\tdlrecover.exe -reregister -resetlayout -resetcache

Although a reboot isn't required, it may help clear up any residual issues after the command is run.

Symptoms: Start Menu and Apps cannot start after upgrade to Windows 10 version 1809 when Symantec Endpoint Protection is installed


Start menu, Search, and Apps do not start after you upgrade a computer running Windows 7 that has Symantec Endpoint Protection installed to Windows 10 version 1809.


This problem occurs because of a failure to load sysfer.dll. During upgrade, the setup process doesn't set the privilege group "All Application Packages" on sysfer.dll and other Symantec modules.


This issue was fixed by the Windows Cumulative Update that were released on December 5, 2018—KB4469342 (OS Build 17763.168).

If you've already encountered this issue, use one of the following two options to fix the issue:

Option 1: Remove sysfer.dll from system32 folder and copy it back. Windows will set privilege automatically.

Option 2:

  1. Locate the directory C:\Windows\system32.
  2. Right-click on sysfer.dll and choose Properties.
  3. Switch to the Security tab.
  4. Confirm that All Application Packages group is missing.
  5. Select Edit, and then select Add to add the group.
  6. Test Start and other Apps.

Third-party information disclaimer

The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, about the performance or reliability of these products.