Fix: ‘Critical Error Start Menu not working’ on Windows 10

Start Menu is one of the most useful components of Windows 10 because it allows us to quickly access installed apps and settings. Many users reported “Critical Error – Start menu not working” message on Windows 10, and if you have the same problem, you might want to have a closer look at out solutions.

Fix Critical Error – Start menu not working error message on Windows 10

Problems with Start Menu can drastically affect your user experience. Speaking of problems, users reported the following issues with their Start Menu:

  • Start Menu and Cortana not working – Start Menu and Cortana are closely related on Windows 10. However, many users reported that both Start Menu and Cortana aren’t working on their PC.
  • Start Menu won’t open windows 10 – In some cases your Start Menu won’t even open. This can be a big problem, but you should be able to solve it by using one of our solutions.
  • Start Menu won’t go away – Several users reported that their Start Menu won’t go away. According to users, they are able to open the Start Menu, but they are unable to close it.
  • Start Menu randomly opens windows 10 – Users reported that Start Menu randomly opens on their PC. This is an annoying problem since Start Menu will interfere with other applications on your screen.
  • Start Menu tiles missing, icons missing – Several users reported that their tiles and icons in Start Menu are missing. This can be a problem, but you should be able to fix it with one of our solutions.
  • Start Menu very slow windows 10 – In some cases your Start Menu might work, but it will be rather slow. This can be a big problem and drastically affect your performance.
  • Start Menu flashing windows 10 – Many users reported that Start Menu flashes on their Windows 10. This is an annoying problem, but you should be able to fix it with one of our solutions.
  • Start Menu has disappeared – This is a relatively rare problem, but few users reported that their Start Menu has disappeared. This is most likely caused by file corruption, but it can be easily fixed.

Solution 1 – Enter Safe Mode

Critical Error – Start menu not working can be quite troublesome, but users claim that this error can be fixed by entering the Safe Mode. To enter Safe Mode, do the following:

  1. When Windows 10 starts, press Windows Key + L to log out.
  2. Click the Power button in the bottom right corner, hold Shift on your keyboard and click Restart.
  3. Your computer should now restart to boot options. Go to Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings. Click the Restart button.
  4. Once your computer restarts again, press F5 to access Safe Mode with Networking.
  5. Just by entering the Safe Mode your problem should be resolved. All you have to do now is to restart your computer.

If the problem persists, you might have to try some of our other solutions. If you can’t complete them from your regular account, feel free to enter Safe Mode and follow the same steps.


Solution 2 – Uninstall Dropbox / your antivirus software

Many users reported Dropbox as the main culprit for Critical Error – Start menu not working error. In order to fix this issue, you have to remove Dropbox from your computer. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and type appwiz.cpl. Press Enter or click OK to run it.
    Start Menu and Cortana not working
  2. Locate Dropbox on the list and choose Uninstall.
  3. After you’ve removed Dropbox, restart your computer and check if the issue is resolved.

Few users reported that certain antivirus software, such as Symantec or Avast, can cause issues with Windows 10 and Start Menu, so if you’re having this problem, try removing your antivirus software.

We also recommend you to download this tool (100% safe and tested by us) to fix various PC problems, such as file loss, malware and hardware failure.


Solution 3 – Temporary hide Cortana from Taskbar

Few users reported that hiding Cortana icon from your Taskbar fixes this issues. In order to hide Cortana, you need to do the following:

  1. Right click the Taskbar and choose Cortana> Hidden.
    Start Menu won't open windows 10
  2. Now right click Taskbar again and choose Cortana > Show search icon.
    Start Menu won't go away
  3. Restart your computer and check if the issue is resolved.

Solution 4 – Switch to another administrator account and delete TileDataLayer directory

Users reported that Critical Error – Start menu not working message started appearing after connecting their Microsoft account to their local account. If you have this problem, it’s advised to switch to a different administrator account and to remove TileDataLayer directory.

If you don’t have additional administrator account, you can create one by following these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
  2. When Task Manager opens, click on File > Run new task.
    Start Menu randomly opens windows 10
  3. Type cmd, check Create this task with administrative privileges and click OK.
    Start Menu tiles missing
  4. When Command Prompt starts, enter the following and press Enter to run it:
    • net user /add admin1 password1
      Start Menu very slow windows 10
  5. This will create a new user account named admin1 with password password1. You can use any other values for username or password.
  6. Now you need to turn newly added user, admin1 in our example, to administrator by entering the following:
    • net localgroup administrators admin1 /add
      Start Menu flashing windows 10
  7. Close Command Prompt, sign out of your current account and go to newly created admin1 account. Use password1 to log in.
  8. Press Windows Key + R and enter %localappdata%. Click OK or press Enter.
    Start Menu has disappeared
  9. Locate TileDataLayer folder and delete it.
    Start Menu icons missing
  10. Sign out of admin1 account and switch back to your regular account.

Hopefully, everything should be working now. Users reported that after using this method their tiles were removed from Start Menu, but that’s just a minor problem. If the problem is resolved, you can remove admin1 administrator account.


Solution 5 – End Local Security Authority Process

In order to fix Critical Error – Start menu not working, it’s advised that you end Local Security Authority Process using Task Manager. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
  2. When Task Manager opens, go to Processes tab and locate Local Security Authority Process. Right click it and choose End task.
    Start Menu won't open windows 10
  3. Close Task Manager and restart your computer. After your computer restarts, check if the issue is resolved.

Solution 6 – Disable Internet Explorer

If you upgraded to Windows 10 from previous version of Windows, this error can be caused by Internet Explorer, and in order to fix this problem, you’ll have to disable Internet Explorer. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and type appwiz.cpl. Press Enter or click OK.
  2. Programs and Features window will now open. Click on Turn Windows features on or off.
    Start Menu won't go away
  3. Locate Internet Explorer 11 on the list and uncheck it. If you get a warning message just click Yes.
    Start Menu randomly opens windows 10
  4. Restart your computer and check if the issue is resolved.

Solution 7 – Create two new administrator accounts and transfer Database folder to your original account

This process requires you to create two administrator accounts, and we have to warn you that the process might seem a bit confusing at times, so try to follow the steps closely.

Before we start, you need to create two administrator accounts. For detailed instructions, have a look at Solution 4. Basically, you need to start Command Prompt as administrator and enter the following lines:

  • net user /add admin1 password1
  • net user /add admin2 password2
  • net localgroup administrators admin1 /add
  • net localgroup administrators admin2 /add

Now you need to copy TileDataLayer folder. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Log out of your current account.
  2. Go to admin1 account and use password1 to log in.
  3. Once you log in, restart your computer.
  4. After your computer restarts go to admin2 account and use password2 as password.
  5. Go to C:\Users\admin1\AppData\Local\TileDataLayer folder. If you can’t find AppData folder, click the View tab and make sure Hidden items is checked.
    Start Menu tiles missing
  6. In TileDataLayer you should find Database folder. Right click it and choose Copy.
  7. Now go to C:\Users\Your_username\AppData\Local\TileDataLayer folder and rename Database folder to Database.old.
  8. Paste the new Database folder.
  9. Restart your computer and go back to your main account. If the issue is fixed, remove the administrator profiles you created.

Solution 8 – Restart your computer

Since Windows 10 doesn’t work like previous versions of Windows when it comes to shutting down, your data doesn’t get completely cleared when you shutdown your computer, and that can cause few issues once in a while.

In order to fix it, just click the Power button and choose Restart from the menu. Few users reported that restart fixed most of their problems, so feel free to try it.


Solution 9 – Make sure your Windows 10 is up to date

Microsoft is aware of this issue, and permanent fix might be available through Windows Update, therefore make sure to download all the latest updates for Windows 10.


Solution 10 – Switch to a different user account

If the problem still persists, you might want to switch to a different user account. We’ve already shown you how to create a new user account using Command Prompt, so create a new account, and move your personal files to it as a temporary workaround.


Solution 11 – Refresh Windows 10

If you’re still getting Critical Error – Start menu not working message, you might want to consider refreshing Windows 10. Refreshing is a last resort, and by refreshing Windows 10 all downloaded files and apps will be removed, so make sure to create a backup. To complete this step, you might need Windows 10 installation USB or DVD, so make sure to have one.

To refresh Windows 10, do the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + L to log out of your current account. Click the Power button in the bottom right corner, hold Shift key and choose Restart.
  2. When your computer restarts, choose Troubleshooting > Refresh your PC.
  3. Choose Keep my files to save your personal files and follow the instructions. Make sure to have Windows 10 installation USB because you might need it to complete the refresh process.

Critical Error – Start menu not working can be a major problem and seriously affect your Windows 10 experience. We covered similar Start Menu issues in the past, and if Start Menu is disappearing or your Star Menu isn’t working, feel free to check those articles for more solutions.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2016 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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