How to fix erratic behavior of Bluetooth connections in Win 10

I have a Windows 10 laptop that is paired with two Bluetooth audio devices, a pair of headphones and a Bluetooth stereo adapter that feeds into my vintage stereo amp. When I try to connect with the laptop, in about every second case, the connection fails, somehow Windows doesn’t see the devices. First thing I did was to check the Bluetooth drivers, they were up to date. I reinstalled them anyway, just in case, but no luck. When the connections failed, I deactivated and reactivated the Bluetooth drivers and also restarted all Windows Bluetooth services, but also to no avail. The only remedy is to reboot Windows, in most cases after a restart, Bluetooth is able to connect again.

It’s driving me nuts, and I cannot pinpoint why it sometimes works and sometimes don’t. Do you have any other suggestion what I could do to troubleshoot this issue?

Do the devices have any connection apps available? I have Bose wireless headphones and a Bose wireless speaker. There is a Bose app that I have on my phone, laptop, desktop, and tablet that “helps” with Bluetooth connectivity.

Nope, no apps available. Both devices connect by the push of a button.

My Bluetooth headset always connects to my Surface tablet. Sometimes it works great, and other times I hear nothing but a sequence of steady clicks rather than the audio signal I’m supposed to hear. I’ve pretty much given up and make a point of having an old wired headset available when I want to listen to something on this computer.

I wonder if part of the issue is that I have multiple examples of the same brand and model of the headset I use. AFAI have been able to determine Windows offers no method of pairing multiple headsets of the same type, unlike my Android device which does.

I had constant problems with bluetooth disconnecting from my stereo and also from my bluetooth mouse. It stopped working completely one day when my son happened to be visiting and he did the following series of steps (and I wrote it down for future possible use):

Load Device manager
Click on “USB devices”
Look for “Unrecognized USB device”
Right click on it and hit uninstall

It doesn’t really make any sense. Bluetooth has nothing to do with USB and I am not sure why he even did this. But I have had only one connection problem since. The mouse stopped working and rebooting fixed it. The mouse’s battery was also dying and did a few days later.

I really wonder if the bluetooth drivers are just error prone. Good luck.

I looked in the device manager, but found no unrecognized USB device. It seems to be a different issue in my case. But thanks anyway, I know that sometimes unusual and seemingly unconnected measures can resolve such an issue.

I think I’m allowed to give this one bump. I still haven’t figured out the culprit.

Let me bump to describe my most recent experience, FWIW. Last night, my bluetooth mouse suddenly stopped working. I had recently replaced the battery, but I did it again, no help. Then I checked the connection to the tuner. Not working. The bluetooth button on the control panel showed on. I turned it off then on again. No help. Then I followed my advice on post #5 above. The only change was that the bluetooth button on the control panel disappeared completely. I googled How to (re)install a bluetooth driver. I downloaded something that purported to be a program to install the driver. I had thought it came from MS and was free. When they wanted money, I demurred and tried to close the window. It would not close. In fact I had to reboot to get rid of it. When I did, the blue light on the tuner came on and, mirabile dictu, the tuner was now connected, the bluetooth button on the control panel was back and the mouse was working again. It should hardly be necessary to add: YMMV.

I hate to say this but I’ve been trying to support Bluetooth audio in Windows since XP was relatively new and it has never worked right. Other sorts of devices work fine (especially mice and keyboards) but audio is always awful. I’ve been in IT support for more than 20 years (currently doing it for state government) and my advice to everyone is not to do it. All I can suggest is that it seems to be a software issue, not hardware.

Here is an article talking about some of the reasons why it stinks:

I will say that Bluetooth 5.0 did not improve things, despite the hopeful optimism of that 2018 article.

A few months ago, Microsoft announced that they will release an update that should finally get Windows and Bluetooth audio working as it should.

However, as stated in the How-To Geek article…

Bluetooth is Always a Few Years Away From Working Well

So don’t count on it. By the way, Bluetooth audio has always been great for me with all my Android and iOS devices. It’s just Windows that never works right. If I’m going to do wireless audio on a PC, I stick with a standard 2.4GHz RF wireless headset with a dongle.

Though that doesn’t help me much, It’s kind of a relief, because I also have been in IT professionally for more than 25 years and am usually quite good at figuring out these kinds of problems, but here I’m still at a loss.

My dad ultimately just switched to pugging his Bluetooth headphones in. They didn’t advertise it in the packaging or manual, but I noticed something that looked like a headphone jack, and recommended he try plugging it in.

When I needed wireless audio, I had better luck using a program that would stream my audio over Wi-fi to my phone, and then listening to that.

At the time, I blamed the dongle, thinking it’s what I get for buying cheap crap. But, if Bluetooth is so bad on Windows, I don’t see any reason to waste money on it.

And yet, when my bluetooth is working to connect to my tuner, the sound is pretty good. My problem is always that the bluetooth simply stops working. The mouse stops working, the audio stops. And that commercial program I mentioned above (it’s called slimware, although they omitted an e) then turned into nagware.

I apologize for relaunching this thread, but I have one more experience to relate; maybe it will help @EinsteinsHund or someone else. After my last experience I was going along when, suddenly the Bluetooth failed once again. I tried everything. The troubleshooter reported that my “device” (i.e. computer) didn’t have Bluetooth and suggested that I add one. Since my son (formerly a Microsoft developer) was about to arrive for a visit, I decided to wait for him. He asked if had rebooted. Of course I had. First thing I did. A soft reboot or a hard one? Soft. So let’s try a hard one. Not just use a software shutdown, but hold the on/off button for 15 seconds and then restart. Damned if the Bluetooth didn’t come back! Go figure? That was yesterday and it is still working.

The situation with my laptop and bluetooth hasn’t changed since I posted the OP, at least for me a soft reboot is sufficient to get back connectivity. I can at least add one data point, the inability to connect always happens after the machine had gone into and been reawakened from hibernation.

It sounds like you’re using the laptop’s built in BT hardware …
Have you tried an external USB BT dongle ?
This sort of thing :-

Yes, I use the built in bluetooth hardware. I’ve never thought about using an external dongle, and frankly I’ve got no USB port left for one. And there’s no guarantee that this will work.

Using an external dongle was my next step, although I don’t want to give up the USB slot. But this laptop is scarcely more than a year old; why should it be so flaky?

Amusingly, my son who fixes all me problems had to ask his daughter for help with some social medium. And so it goes.

Lately the following has been working for me.

Every time I want to use Bluetooth with my Surface tablet, instead of just re-connecting the headset, I delete it from the tablet then re-pair it, as I would a brand new headset.