• PC refuses to upgrade to newer version

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    LANGALIST By Fred Langa Even as Windows 11 is coming down the pike, some readers are still having trouble getting their PCs to upgrade to the current
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    • #2395095

      May I add a further recommendation to Fred Langa’s column, “PC Refuses to Upgrade to Newer Version.”

      Fred provides some great suggestions, but, the one that actually helped me repair my non-upgrading issue in the past is a deceptively easier (yet more time-consuming one) method, which is to utilise Microsoft’s “refresh install” on their classic “download window’s 10” page, viz.:


      [This locates itself automatically to the UK (i.e. ”en-gb”) as I live in the UK.  It will locate itself automatically relative to the area you live in as you type in your browsers search box, “Download Windows 10”].

      On this ‘site above, DO NOT to use the “Update Now” link at the top of the page, but, rather, use the “Download Tool Now” and DO NOT choose to make a copy on a flash drive / ISO file, but, to rather take the other remaining option of “Upgrading” one’s PC.

      What this does, in fact (thankfully!!) is to “refresh” one’s computer by laying down a new copy of Window’s 10 ON TOP of what one already has.  Loosely speaking, it’s almost akin to using CHKSDK /f /r, but, on a far wider scale.  And, if one is behind in one’s Win’s 10 version, it may even decide to upgrade one’s computer at the same time … one will need to assess this through using / experimenting with this method.  I’ve only used it thus far to refresh my current, latest version (I’m always up to date).  No reason, tho’, that it won’t work in a slightly more extended way to, also, concurrent with a refresh, also upgrade the computer to the latest version of Windows 10.  Seems logical, give it a try.

      This worked exceptionally for me, to the point that I’ve used it again, post that original upgrade problem, to simply spruce up my computer when I see that it’s not performing to one’s expectations.  I’d imagine, with the (agonising…) monthly updates, etc. from Microsoft, it’s easily feasible (& likely) that with all that “stuff” going on every month, combined with one’s normal usage, that something may, every so often, go a bit wrong.  Refreshing one’s computer as a “refresh install” fixes this smartly and immediately.  No-brainer.  AND, ONE LOSES NOTHING IN THE PROCESS … NO FILES, NO SETTINGS …. NOTHING.  YOU GET YOUR EXACT SAME COMPUTER POST THIS EXERCISE BUT A PERFECT WORKING MODEL.  It obviously takes a bit of worthwhile time, though, to go through this process as it needs to download Windows 10, and, then install it.  Your computer will automatically re-start a number of times.  No problem with that … worth the time, believe me!

      Trust that this adds something valuable to the amazing work you guys do, Fred / Sue – always so appreciated!

      Warmest regards,


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      • #2400767

        I wanted to thank you for posting this method. One of my computers has a Win 10 Home install, and for some reason the October update was repeatedly failing to install. I looked up error codes, ran checkdisk and SFC, tried manual install, etc. I didn’t really want to do a clean install as the current one isn’t that old. I refreshed the system with your method and everything looked good; up to date through October. At any rate, the November update just came through on that machine and it installed fine, so whatever the glitch was, it seems to be gone.

        I don’t do anything to prevent updates besides usually deferring them for a couple of weeks, so this wasn’t a case of ‘user tweaks prevent system from updating correctly’.

    • #2395166


      After dealing with these kinds of issues for years, servicing on computers of SOHO and individual computer owners, I can only say that Microsoft needs to be taken to the woodshed for its abject failure to explain exactly what went wrong with an update, using non-colloquial non-hexadecimal language.  And, gee, whiz, what actions should one take?  Crickets!

      Microsoft also fails its users and service providers with repair procedures that simply do not work.  Right now, I have a non-booting computer here and it will not and cannot complete a so-called “Automatic Repair” successfully, and I cannot even boot it into Safe Mode.  Call it “Automatic Non-Repair”.

      What Dorian describes above seems to make sense.  Now why does a Dorian have to come up with this approach to a successful update?  Where is Microsoft in all this?  Crickets!  No excuse for any of this.

      Ben Myers

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      • #2395176

        Why is Microsoft guilty for users’ inability to properly manage their PCs, like installing crap software, users following some ‘experts advise’ on running 3rd party hacking tools to make changes to the registry,…

        Microsoft’s tools can help if you have a clean installed Windows copy..

    • #2395202

      According to Microsoft, the Windows 10 Home and Pro Retirement Date is Oct 14, 2025 – 4 years from now.

      What’s the rush to update to Windows 11?

      Does Windows 11 have some fabulous new features that will improve the operation of our existing systems and/or apps?

      A long time ago one of my mentors taught me that, “A pioneer gets an arrow in his (her) back while the settler comes and settles the land.” Advice that served me well within the corporate environment.

      For our part, we will stick to Windows 10 and its predecessors as long as possible – only moving to Windows 11 when we purchase new equipment, see significant justification to move to the “new” operating system, or sometime in 2025.

      In fact, we are still using some XP and Windows 7 machines and they are working just fine.

      • #2395213

        There is no rush. The vast majority of Windows users will do as you describe. They’ll get Windows 11 with new hardware. Right now, primarily enthusiasts or those whose job it is to test new versions will be the only upgraders.

        The only thing that you might consider is what Microsoft says about added security.

        IMO, the visual refresh is to help OEMs sell new hardware.



    • #2395708

      I know I am late to the party but please hear me out.

      With all the energy and time you invested in your problem it might have been more time economical to bite the bullet and do a full re-install from a newly downloaded current Windows version. For this you’ll need an empty 8GB flash drive (USB stick), plugged into your computer.

      Naturally you need a complete backup of all your data before you even start on this.

      Go to the MS Windows download page at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10, scroll down to header Create Windows 10 installation media and click the big button Download Tool Now.Follow the prompts and you’ll end up with a bootable USB drive based installer for the Windows version you had chosen.

      I have done that many times in situations similar to yours and it has worked every time.

      I put that out here to eventually help others that may run into similar situations around the “upgrades” to Windows 11 or whatever.

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      • #2395726

        It is never to late to come to this party.

        Creating Windows 10 installation media is one approach.

        We use HP desktops and have found it useful to have HP recovery media that is specific to each machine as well as disk copies of all of our core applications.  If we do not purchase disks for our apps, we, at a minimum, download and save the software and its license information. We also use cloning software to make an exact copy of our C Drives to an external drive.

        The manufacturer’s recovery media enables us to restore our machine to their original, as shipped, factory setup.

        After disconnecting the computer from the internet, we install the manufacturer’s recovery media and reboot. We then attach the computer to the internet and run HP’s Support Assistant followed by Intel’s Driver Support Assistant to recover each organizations updates.  Then we allow Windows to update itself.  From there we can reinstall our apps and recover our files, desktop, etc. from the cloned disk. We are also able to recover key files for Outlook, etc. if we did not save key files such as PST containing our address books and calendars.

    • #2395859

      There is one reason Windows 10 won’t upgrade a version that I have never seen mentioned in an article but has bitten me more than once.

      Remove any USB drives (flash, drive (hard or SSD)), etc. before starting the upgrade.

      I’m not sure why this poses a problem, but it does. There is one exception here: if the machine is short disk space, there is a way to use a flash drive during the installation. However, there is a specific process needed to do this. (Sorry I don’t recall the details but I’ve only needed it once).

      • #2395861

        I have always updated/upgraded Windows 10 all the way from 1803 to 21H1 with external USB devices (printer, HDDs..) attached.
        Never had a problem.

    • #2395863

      I have always updated/upgraded Windows 10 all the way from 1803 to 21H1 with external USB devices (printer, HDDs..) attached.
      Never had a problem.

      Let me be clear about one thing – USB printers and other non-storage devices have never been a problem nor did I mention them in my initial post.

      Neither did I say that having a USB storage device will prevent an upgrade but I did, and do, say that removing external USB storage devices may allow a machine to upgrade when it otherwise would not.

      I have, as you have, rarely had a problem upgrading with USB storage devices attached, but I have, on occasion, had a machine that would not upgrade so long as one was. I have no idea why this is the case, but it is.

      Also, removing a USB storage device is a LOT simpler and a LOT faster than just about any of the other solutions to this problem. So why not try it?

    • #2395873

      An upgrade can sometimes use an external USB storage as temporary space during installation. The internal drive does not necessarily need to be short on free space. I had this happen with an internal drive with 175GB free space and a 2TB USB drive attached. The folder created on the external USB drive was “Windows10Upgrade” and the contents were a .esd file (1.3GB) and products.xml (2.5MB)

      However, if the external drive is short of space and the installation tries to use it as storage, I imagine that could cause a problem with (or bork) the installation.

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