How to Fix: Spinning Blue Circle in Windows 10

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Carol G. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Since last week, my Windows 10 computer keeps showing a constant spinning blue circle instead of a white pointer. The spinning blue circle will appear for minutes at a time, then switch back to the white pointer for a brief second, then back to the spinning blue circle. Most of the time I can't click the Start button (or anything, for that matter) because the spinning blue circle won't let me click on anything. Even if the white pointer appears, if I click on something it takes 5 minutes for anything to happen. It's maddening! I've tried restarting the system several times already, but the spinning blue circle is relentless. Sometimes it takes 20 minutes or more to boot the computer, whereas previously it took only a few minutes. I have not made any changes to the system lately, so I'm not sure what is causing the issue. I've also read your previous article on the spinning blue circle but it didn't apply. Can you please help? "

My response:

A spinning cursor means the system is busy. Since the operating system is made up of hundreds or thousands of independent modules (programs), you may see the spinning blue circle appear often, especially if you power on or reboot the system. This is normal behavior, providing that the spinning blue circle switches back to the pointer and you can continue using the system as normal.

What is not normal is the behavior you're describing, where the spinning blue circle is seen for extended periods of time and slows the entire system down severely (and in your case, a 20 minute boot is definitely not normal). Having to wait 5 minutes or more in between mouse clicks is also definitely not normal.

Sometimes, a program or driver may be causing a spinning blue circle; in that case you will have to check for any recent program or driver changes made to the system and reverse them.

Based on what you're telling me, you likely have a corrupt file system or corrupt operating system. Another possibility is that the hard drive is experiencing a hardware failure, or some other hardware failure. The latter two are rather difficult to diagnose and are beyond the scope of this article. As such I will be addressing the former two issues, which are the most common cause of a spinning blue circle - file and OS corruption.

How to Fix: Spinning Blue Circle in Windows 10

To check the file system and operating system, do the following:

  1. Click Start (providing you can do so) and then type in "cmd" (no quotes); wait for "CMD.EXE" or "Command Prompt" to appear in the list, then right click and select "Run as Administrator".
     
  2. Next, type in "chkdsk" (no quotes) into the command prompt and press Enter on the keyboard. Wait for check disk (chkdsk) to run file system checks on the drive. If it reports "Windows has scanned the file system and found no problems (pic)," then continue on to the next step. If you have file system errors then you need to execute "chkdsk /f", then press "Y" to continue, then reboot the system and let chkdsk run during bootup. Once the desktop is loaded, you will need to run "chkdsk" again. If it still reports errors then you are likely looking at severe file system corruption. In that case you can contact me for remote desktop support and I can investigate this for you.
     
  3. Assuming that chkdsk is clear, the next step is to run "sfc /scannow" in the command prompt. SFC stands for system file checker and will provide a basic test for operating system corruption. This will take anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes depending on your system specifications.

    You will then have one of four possible outcomes:

    a. SFC will report "Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations." In other words, there were no errors found. In that case, you should be in the clear, though based on my experience even if SFC reports no errors, it's not 100% accurate. I have witnessed a corrupt operating system even with SFC reporting no errors.

    b. SFC will report "Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them." If so, run "sfc /scannow" again and it should report no errors found. When complete, reboot the system and test to see if the spinning circle issue is fixed.

    c. SFC will report "Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some of them." If that is the case, you definitely have a corrupt operating system. You are welcome to contact me to look into this for you to see what options are available. Based on my experience this is rather tricky to solve (and way beyond the scope of this article).

    d. SFC will report "Windows Resource Protection could not perform the requested operation," or such. If so, you may be looking at severe operating system corruption or a hardware failure. You can try rebooting in safe mode and run SFC that way, but it may not fix the issue.

I hope that helps. If you are still stuck, you can contact me for further troubleshooting - described next.

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

If all of this is over your head, or if you've run SFC and chkdsk on your system but still have a constant spinning blue circle, something else is wrong with the system. In that case, I can connect to your PC using my remote desktop support service and troubleshoot the problem for you as if I was right there. I am a senior systems administrator and I am very good at troubleshooting hard-to-diagnose issues like this - refer to my resume. Simply contact me, briefly describing the issue and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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Comments

grahroll_4889's picture

Using the DISM command if SFC fails with "Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some of them." can help. DISM may also help if the "Windows Resource Protection could not perform the requested operation." is encountered.

You will need to run the command in either the Command Prompt window with administrative (admin) privileges or in Powershell with admin privileges. The most common usage of the DISM command to fix these issues is "DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth" (without the quotes). Once it has run and completed then running the SFC /scannow again should allow SFC to repair the damaged files.

If the Update process in Win 10 has been corrupted then it is a bit more complex and a clean source for the files needs to be provided rather than using just the Windows Update source for the files. This would appear like "Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /Source:d:\newsource" where d:\newsource is just an example path to the location of the repair source. As this is more complex if you are unsure or have no experience with doing this, contacting someone who has skills in this area such as Dennis Faas is highly recommended.

If all the other options have been exhausted then a Clean Reinstall of Win 10 may be the final best option.

Dennis Faas's picture

Yes, you can use DISM command, but in my experience it very rarely ever works to fix anything at all - especially if the OS is severely corrupted. The DISM command is mentioned in the article I linked to via option 3d above.

LouisianaJoe's picture

If there are no disk errors, it could be a process eating up the CPU. Hold CTL + ALT + delete, then select task manager. Click the CPU heading to sort process by CPU Usage. You may see that a process is using a lot of CPU Percentage. This could be a bad driver or malware.

john.a.hayes_12265's picture

After sfc /scannow reported that it was unable to fix some files, my experience was that DISM with the same switches that grahroll mentions above was successful at resolving all issues. My subsequent sfc /scannow found no errors.