I spent hours trying to restore Bluetooth on my laptop after a Windows 11 update

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Sometimes, I really hate Windows. There, I said it.

I’m not getting into all the reasons why I have a love-hate relationship with this fervently-beloved operating system for fear of persecution. I think that coming close to being excommunicated by my colleagues, more specifically my fellow editors who are Windows diehards, is punishment enough for daring to even speak ill of it.

I’m also not about to drop myself into the middle of a war without ammunition, especially since I’m not overly passionate about the whole Mac vs Windows debate. But, to be blunt, the operating system makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes. And, as powerful as it is, you must admit; it has its share of stability problems, seemingly endless list of worthless old keys in its registry, and random issues that pop up for no apparent reason.

Case in point, this week when my gaming laptop, which I also use to test and review peripherals, just upped and decided to restart without warning or permission due to a small update I didn’t even know was happening. It cost me all the notes I had that day, which I had been typing up on the Notepad but forgot to save, as I’m used to the macOS Notes application that, by the way, blissfully auto-saves, sparing me from such catastrophes.

That isn’t even the worst of it. Windows 11 also, upon restart, decided that my laptop’s Bluetooth cannot sit at the popular table anymore, and it wasn’t going to bother making it available for me – an even bigger catastrophe (forgive my liberal use of the word), as both my current mechanical keyboard and my wireless mouse are using it to interface with my laptop.

And so followed an infuriating saga of me trying to restore Bluetooth connectivity to my device – essentially three or so hours of my life wasted.

So many ‘fixes’ 

After finishing the update and restarting my computer, Windows 11 oh-so-righteously informed me that “Bluetooth is not available on this device. Please try using an external adapter to add Bluetooth capability to this computer.” Excuse me? How the duck did that happen when five minutes prior, it was working perfectly fine?

It turns out, no one really knows. It’s one of those random issues that Windows suddenly throws up, and I sometimes think that it’s just mess with us. And while other folks who’ve encountered the same problem – and there are many of them – seem to blame it on a missing driver or corrupted system files, no one can tell you how a simple and supposedly straightforward update can cause that driver or those files to fail in the first place, which means it’s really hard to pinpoint the cause.

And, when you can’t pinpoint the actual cause of the problem, the plan of attack, it seems, is to try a bunch of fixes until you find the right one. Right… because we all have half a day to spare doing that.

Even more infuriating is the fact that there’s also no one fix for this one issue (though admittedly, this also happens on macOS every now and then). The common ones that work for most people aren’t necessarily going to work for you. One user got so fed up after trying out a bunch of them without success that he turned his computer off, unplugged it, and turned it back on after 10 minutes as a last-ditch attempt, and whaddya know?! That did the trick!

Of course, if you have my kind of luck, that won’t work either. I also tried MakeUseOf.com’s nine (nine!) fixes to no avail. 

The one thing that actually worked

The one thing that did work for me – just as the sun was setting, and I was ready to curl up in a fetal position and bawl myself to sleep – is just as absurd as the problem itself, which is typical.

The Windows Club provided the answer: turn off Fast Startup and restart the laptop

Of course, I’ve already gone through the all motions, uninstalling and reinstalling the Bluetooth driver, going through the Services app and restarting all the Bluetooth-related drivers, and deleting a corrupted USB-related driver – not to mention, RESTARTING MY LAPTOP AFTER EVERY SINGLE STEP (damn right, I’m yelling!). So, it’s not exactly as if that alone kissed the boo-boo and made it all better. 

Still, I wouldn’t have guessed that to be the fix had I not done a bit more digging. And, none of those things I just mentioned worked anyway, until I turned off Fast Startup, which was likely enabled during the update. 

The troubled Fast Startup

There are articles dating back to 2017 about how Fast Startup can cause issues ranging from difficulty installing Windows updates to not being able to access BIOS settings, and how to disable it. First introduced with Windows 8 in 2016, it’s supposed to make your PC boot up quicker, and would have been a nice feature if it were executed properly. When enabled, the feature doesn’t fully shut down your PC and puts it into some sort of hibernation state instead, allowing you quicker access to your system. 

But clearly, it hasn’t been working well, and the fact that an update might enable it without your knowledge is infuriating. Even more unbelievable is that it’s still causing issues, and Microsoft hasn’t bothered fixing it (or completely removing it from the current Windows iteration).

I’m not going to list all the reasons why you should disable Fast Startup on your computer – that’s another article for another day. Just do yourself a favor, spare yourself the pain, and do it. It might even be the right solution to other random Windows issues you’ll encounter in the future.

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