How-to: Troubleshoot Windows with Another User Account

Sometimes you can get problems with Windows applications; non-starters, inability to File-Save or Save-As, in-app settings. This can happen after install or spontaneously after months of regular use.

The truth is, all versions of Windows can be brittle, thanks to a complex combination of settings in .ini files, the Windows Registry and file system permissions (read, write, delete). Settings can get corrupted, .ini files overwritten, temp files left behind in your user’s working folders that can’t be overwritten or easily deleted.

When you get problems with Windows applications, it is worth trying to run them under a different user account than normal. This at least provides a basic level of diagnosis.

  • Under User accounts (under Settings, or Control Panel, depending on your Windows version), create a new account.
  • Log out, log in using the new account and try the problem applications
  • If you have the applications are working under the other account, then most likely a settings file or file permissions are corrupted for your regular user account.
  • If the problem persists with the new regular account, try an account with elevated administration privileges – the Windows Administrator account.
  • If the Admin account works, there is a permissions problem with some files or folders used by the application not available to regular user accounts.
  • If you experience the same problems even as a Windows Admin account, there is a deeper issue buried somewhere within Windows configuration and permissions.

A registry cleaner tool (of which there are many) may be able to help – look on-line using software review sites such as PCPro and Softpedia for current recommendations and download the free-trial versions before you spend any money. Some are useful, some are terrible; none are a magic wand.

If the problem persists, hit the troublesome application itself – try uninstalling and re-installing to get a clean configuration – remember to backup any data files first.
If that doesn’t fix it, try a Windows restore to a known good snapshot or restore point.
If that still doesn’t fix it, you may be looking at a full Windows restore or re-install.

It’s been this way for years, thanks to Windows particular software architecture. Although these faults are rarer than they used to be, the simple diagnostic step of trying another account, followed by an Admin account could save your hours of time needlessly re-installing or factory re-setting your machine.  AJS

10 thoughts on “How-to: Troubleshoot Windows with Another User Account

  1. Capita says:

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  2. Mayra Stringer says:

    I actually think this amazing blog post, very engaging not to mention it was a great read.

    Thanks for your effort- Mayra

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