With footholds in everything from gaming peripherals to user-input devices to smartphones, Bluetooth wireless technology is a convenient alternative to running data cables from the computer to every device. It does have drawbacks in turn, though, which may take some Bluetooth users off-guard. Since Bluetooth problems preventing connectivity aren't uncommon, experts recommend that users run through the most appropriate and accessible solutions before assuming that their device is dead.
Examples of Bluetooth problems common to many Windows setups include connectivity failure after an update to Windows or other software, Bluetooth's vanishing from the Task Manager or missing icons. Depending on the cause, these symptoms may not all include a total loss of Bluetooth functionality.
Users with out-of-date Bluetooth driver software should update it to the latest recommended patch. The Windows Device Manager includes an entry for Bluetooth devices. Right-click the device, choose Properties, and choose to 'update' or 'uninstall,' and download and run the latest update for your device from a trusted manufacturer website (Intel.com, etc.) manually.
Users also can turn off Bluetooth accidentally. From Settings, choose Devices and then Bluetooth & other devices. If Bluetooth is available, there should be a Bluetooth entry with a slide – make sure that the value is 'on.'
Alternatively, users may disable Bluetooth unintentionally by turning on the Airplane Mode feature, which deactivates WiFi and Bluetooth temporarily. To toggle it, go back to Settings and choose Network & Internet. The Airplane Mode sub-menu is available on the left, with another toggle-based switch for turning off or on.
In some cases, users might need to remove their Bluetooth device and let Windows re-detect it. From the previously-mentioned Bluetooth & other devices sub-menu, choose the device and remove it. Then select 'Add Bluetooth or another device' and re-add it. Some products may require a PIN as a security measure, which the device's documentation should provide.
Crashes and other system problems also can close programs and services unexpectedly. Since Bluetooth requires a dedicated service, users should check to make sure that it's present. Open the Services application by entering its name into the taskbar's search field. The list is in alphabetical order; scroll to the Bluetooth Support Service. Right-click it and choose Restart. Then, right-click the service again and select Properties. Changing the startup type to 'Automatic' will let the startup happen automatically instead of requiring a manual trigger. Remember to click 'OK' to save the change.
Users who've run through other solutions to no avail may consider resorting to a default Windows troubleshooter. Type 'Troubleshoot other problems' in the taskbar's search field and click the result. Then, scroll down to the 'Find and fix other problems' section and click the Bluetooth entry. Run this troubleshooter to fix Bluetooth-specific issues. Windows may not always be able to resolve the problem by itself, but, if possible, it provides a report so that the user can undertake the appropriate solution.
While it's easy to confuse the two, Bluetooth is not the same as WiFi. As a specialized radio wave communication format for connecting devices to your computer, it requires customized solutions – even if most users never should run into any problems at all.