Forum Article

Overcoming Windows 10 Upgrade and Version Update Failures

Technical Level : Basic

Summary
Compiled from helping in thousands of Upgrade failure cases, these steps work for everyone who tries them all for Upgrade from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 and for version Updates of Windows 10 which are failing.   


Details

If confident your PC meets the Windows 10 Specifications and are aware of any listed unsupported OS features, then you can Install  Windows 10 using the media creation tool choosing the first option to automate the Upgrade or Version Update.

However in the same amount of time it takes to download that option, you can choose the second option "Create Media for another PC" to make a bootable flash stick, or download an ISO to mount and run or burn DVD media, to keep for any needed repairs or reinstall, or can be run from Desktop to Upgrade.  This media also gives an extra option to save nothing during the Upgrade which overcomes the Upgrade choking on corruption or bloated factory installs and gets as close to a superior Clean Install as an Upgrade can get. 

 

If Media Creation Tool causes problems use the alternate download site at Microsoft TechBench.   Make sure to download the correct version and bit-rate.  Either Mount ISO to run Setup for Upgrade, or for bootable media burn ISO to DVD using Windows Image Burner, or create flash stick using Rufus choosing UEFI/GPT if you have a UEFI BIOS, or Legacy BIOS/MBR.  

With bootable media you can even do the superior Clean Install Windows 10 which has zero complaints or reported issues in hundreds of thousands of uses and is the very best install of Windows one can have.  Most tech enthusiasts will not even run a factory or Upgrade install but prefer this option for best performance.

To improve the Upgrade's chances turn off everything at Startup:

Type msconfig in Start Search box, right click System Configuration Utility to Run as Administrator.  On tabs for Startup (via Task Manager) and Services (making sure to tick the box to Hide all MS Services ) disable everything.  You don't need any except those which you prefer to have running when Windows starts and can enable them after the Upgrade.  Repeat this step for the Startup folder by right clicking Start to access Run box, copy/paste shell:common startup press Enter to open Startup Folder.

Uninstall any anti-virus except Defender.  Bloated AV's like Norton, McAfee, AVG and Avast need to run special Uninstallers (removal tools) for common antivirus software - ESET Knowledgebase.

Download, install and run a full scan with Malwarebytes  and AdwCleaner.

Remove if present C:\windows.old folder following How to delete the Windows.old folder from Windows 10 - CNET.  Restart PC several times.

I would also uninstall the buggy Windows Upgrade Assistant at Settings > Apps & Features. 

Install CCleaner to Run Cleaner and on Registry tab Check for Issues and Fix Issues.

There are tips here for cleaning up and managing smaller drives including 32gb drives.  Always create (on another PC) and run the media on cramped drives to save the huge amount of space the download and staging files takes: 
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/askjack/2017/jan/05/what-is-the-best-way-to-deal-with-windows-10-updates-on-a-32gb-netbook
https://www.pcworld.com/article/3040404/windows/more-space-how-windows-10s-storage-analysis-helps-you-free-up-your-hard-drive.html
https://www.groovypost.com/howto/maximize-storage-Space-low-capacity-windows-10-devices/

Next type Command Prompt in Start Search, right click to Run as Admin, type:

sfc /scannow  then press Enter. 

There are reports that updating the BIOS or UEFI firmware is resolving some issues.  Check the PC or motherboard's Support Downloads webpage to compare the latest with the presently installed one found in Windows Administrative Tools>System Information.  Carefully follow the instructions for updating, often found in a ReadMe file in download, from the manufacturer's Support, or ask back here for help. 

It’s highly recommended to Create a backup System Image of your existing OS before upgrading, which can be recovered using the booted Windows installation media, Repair CD or Recovery flash drive in 20 minutes.   Type Backup in Start Search box, in Backup and Recovery Center choose Create a System Image.  You can also use a more flexible imaging program like free Macrium Imaging which allows recovery to any partition position on the hard drive.

Remove any SD cards or external USB devices or peripherals. 

If you prefer to run an in-place Upgrade the media must be opened from desktop or ISO double-clicked to Mount, then right click Setup file to Run as Administrator.  If using Flash installer make sure it is not set first to boot in BIOS setup so it won't boot itself during restarts, or unplug it during restarts.

If you want to maximize chances for a successful Upgrade, then at the screen shown below choose the link to Change What to Keep and save nothing so the Upgrade has much less to choke on and has less problems after install. 

Make sure your files are backed up separately and you have your program installers and any Product Keys for programs like Office.  Everything that needs backing up is detailed in the Clean Install Wiki provided earlier.  (You can save this option as a last resort.)

If it fails anyway then report back the exact error or failure behavior.   Try running it again offline without the internet by disabling the network adapter or pulling the ethernet cable. 

You can also try enabling the Built-in hidden Administrator used in emergencies, signing into it (blank password box) to run the Upgrade:  http://www.top-password.com/blog/4-ways-to-enable-built-in-administrator-account-on-windows/

If Windows won't start see Troubleshooting Windows 8 and 10 Failure to Start - Microsoft Community.   But there's a very good chance in any case that you have such a corrupted install it is not worth keeping, so I'd strongly consider at this point going from worst to best by closely following Clean Install Windows 10 which is the gold standard install in an OS where the quality of the install is everything.

Stick with built-in Defender in Windows 10 for best performance and adequate protection.  If you get infected add the inexpensive Real Time protection from the best-in-class free malware scanner Malwarebytes. No one I’ve had do this has ever been infected again.  I'd also periodically scan with free Malwarebytes and  AdwCleaner  scanners.

If the Upgrade repeatedly fails, you don't even want it and it is disrupting your PC then you can uninstall the Windows Upgrade Assistant and hide the Version Upgrade until it matures following this tutorial:  https://www.howtogeek.com/224471/how-to-prevent-windows-10-from-automatically-downloading-updates/.  There is media to reinstall or repair older versions at the TechBench site linked above.

Feel free to ask back any questions and keep us posted on how it goes.



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My question is how to stop an invalid update from continue to retry to install. Here is what is trying to install: Upgrade to Windows 10 Home, version 1511, 10586. I am currently running a currently running Win 10 version . But this continue to retry to install.

Hi James -

This is an important Update which should be installed.  Beginning with Windows 10 instead of Service Packs there will be regular Version Updates which will also update the installation media.  So please do install this Update when you can.

Let us know how it goes. 

----------------------------------
I am a volunteer and not Microsoft.

Approaching 100,000 helped in forums. I will not quit for those who are polite and cooperative.

Windows MVP 2010-2018

Hi James -

This is an important Update which should be installed.  Beginning with Windows 10 instead of Service Packs there will be regular Version Updates which will also update the installation media.  So please do install this Update when you can.

Let us know how it goes. 

every other computer (desktop, laptop) in my house has updated to the 1511 windows 10 except this one. In fact, the last update of any sort says 11/13/2015. my others have been getting some kind of update now and then (yesterday in fact) . This pc was updated from windows 7 to 10 back in August so it's kind of past the 30 days thing. Ran the update troubleshooter with no luck. I did the settings, storage , temp weeks ago and deleted the windows 7 go back to file. Says I still have 42 Gb in temp but the listings only add up to about 3. hidden file?? also did the system file checker in the command window. I did a search for the windows.old file and found nothing. Any ideas?


Sure, James.  What's worked for me is to install Media Creation Tool

to make bootable media for any needed repairs or reinstall, then open it from desktop to run Setup as an Upgrade which will do the same as the Windows Update for v.1511, but better.  You can also download only the ISO, right click to Mount and run Setup.  This puts it under your control.

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I am a volunteer and not Microsoft.

Approaching 100,000 helped in forums. I will not quit for those who are polite and cooperative.

Windows MVP 2010-2018

The problem with the Win 10 1511 upgrade is that it obliterates apps.  And ANY scenario, OS that kills my app I use most (from Windows Store) along with the numerous extentions purchased through Microsoft account, is NOT acceptable.  And I've deleted every non-vital program--bye, itunes and all its parts, bye mp3 to wave converter (which I bought online, bye to video files, etc.  I have tons of room on my C drive.  The Recovery drive remains the same, since "upgrades" keep piling in--23gs in use out of 25gs.  Disk Management claims everything is "healthy", yet I still have no start button, start menu, clear access to any apps--except in the most roundabout way and even then--updates regularly fail and the ones that are "successful" have done absolutely nothing to improve my situation.

Further, what you have proposed may be a snap to a computer professional with skills--something that wasn't essential when all was well with WINDOWS 8.1--but, it all sounds way too technical for me.  And I resent even having this dropped in my lap.   And the hours and hours I devoted to the ineffectual "fixes" suggested by your counterparts.  Now, you have this new idea that will make things right.

Looks like I'm stuck.  Have to adjust to the greatly diminished functions courtesy of some sloppy work by Microsoft.  I'm sending them a bill for my services in trying to detect what is wrong with their system.

I know they won't pay it.  I hope it, at least, goes against their credit rating.  Something should.  (Oh yeah, I'm sure embedded in their agreement, there is a clause absolving them of anything they do.  Okay, I'm not suing anybody, but, if I gotta work for them, then, I should get paid.


My biggest concern is that every time windows 10 stops working correctly the posted fixes always want you to do a clean (or new) install of windows 10. Problem with that is your option is to lose everything or just lose all your programs and just keep personal files (docs, videos, music) What I miss is the actual windows disc (like with 7 ) that you could load and then choose the REPAIR option. I have several desktops and several laptops in my home. I have experienced so many issues with 10 that after every major update I end up doing a new system image set just in case the next update crashes the system. I wish that Microsoft had give us the option to create a recovery partition if we wanted one. I put 500gb to 1 terabyte drives in everything . I have space.

Did you even read the Wiki above?  Bootable installation media is provided in the second paragraph.  It also explains how to save a System Image backup to use in place of a Recovery partition.  This is the modern way to reinstall in 20 minutes while maintaining  files, programs, settings and  activation. 

----------------------------------
I am a volunteer and not Microsoft.

Approaching 100,000 helped in forums. I will not quit for those who are polite and cooperative.

Windows MVP 2010-2018

The steps in the above Wiki have been used by thousands of consumers since WIndows 10 release, as I was posting the compilation as a template before it became a Wiki.  Everyone who tried every step succeeded to Upgrade, and most got an even better install than an in-place Upgrade which (like a factory Install)  is an inferior install to begin with that no tech enthusiast would even consider running. 

In helping several thousand consumers with Upgrade problems, it's clear that the problem is always with the previous OS corruption or factory bloatware.  Some have disk junkyards that haven't been wiped off for a decade. 

As an example, no one who has done the vastly superior Clean Install Windows 10 Upgrade has any of these complaints.  So the install is everything!

If you want you can go over the Windows 10 Install Integrity Checklist.

----------------------------------
I am a volunteer and not Microsoft.

Approaching 100,000 helped in forums. I will not quit for those who are polite and cooperative.

Windows MVP 2010-2018

yes, I have had to do the clean install on 2 machines because of the types of errors mentioned in your article. everything working fine, all programs working like they should, very happy camper with windows 10 then the November update comes along and WHAM , a list of new problems and odd things happening. went online with a Microsoft tech and let him take control. no luck. system image re-install and re-update to the November update. now I have an invalid product key. Microsoft could not fix it because the old 7 tag on the machine was not quite readable. had to buy a windows 10 usb stick just to get the product key $110 gone. My point was that the updates coming from Microsoft don't always install properly and something weird malfunctions. like cortana not working anymore, clicking on the start icon stops- but right click works. So you might want to say that almost no one who has done a clean install has any of those complaints.  don't you think it odd that a person should have to make sure they have a current system image on hand for when an update fails? I have using computers since the giant floppy disc days. 95,98,xp 2000, 7 , vista 8, 8.1 Even had an early apple system. I have had hard drives fail, motherboards fail and a host of other things but never so many issues with an operating system. I like windows 10. A lot. I just think maybe it was released a little early and maybe more research into compatibility issues with windows 7 machines or aftermarket programs installed.

There shouldn't be any way even a faulty Update or new version glitch should wipe out Digital Entitlement activation which remains in MS Servers permanently.  I'm wondering now if it's still sitting there waiting to activate had enough time been given connected to the internet, or running slui 4 command which works very well for many to refresh the activation in MS servers. 

Is there any chance it says Digital Entitlement at Settings>System>About.  If so you can still use the Product Key elsewhere.  I think I'd restore the Generic key to install Windows 10 RTM to try again to force Digital Entitlement activation so you can retrieve the Product Key to use elsewhere thereby saving the $110. 

I'm really sorry you had to go through this.  We would have fought it through for you, and still will if you want.

----------------------------------
I am a volunteer and not Microsoft.

Approaching 100,000 helped in forums. I will not quit for those who are polite and cooperative.

Windows MVP 2010-2018

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Views: 92,790 Last updated: April 25, 2018 Applies to: