Windows Won’t Install Properly? 5 Tips to Solve All Common Issues
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Installing a new operating system is tedious enough of an experience. But run into major issues during the process, and it can become downright infuriating.

We’re here to help. Due to the nature of Windows installation problems, we can’t offer a specific procedure to fix every situation. Instead, we’ll look at several tips to try when Windows doesn’t install correctly, then cover some of the most common error messages.

1. Remove Unnecessary External Devices

Man Unplugging USB Device from Computer
Image Credit: Bain/Depositphotos

This simple step is something you should try right away. If Windows won’t install properly, disconnect any hardware attached to your computer that you don’t need for the setup.

You can keep the mouse, keyboard, and monitors plugged in, of course. But remove headphones, USB drives, game controllers, phones, and similar peripherals. You can reconnect them later once everything is working.

2. Optimize Your Current Installation

If you’re trying to install a fresh copy of Windows over an existing installation, some problems on your current system might cause it to hang during the process.

Make sure you have a good amount of free disk space. 32-bit Windows 10 requires 16GB, and the 64-bit flavor needs at least 32GB. Install a tool like TreeSize that lets you see what programs and files are taking up the most space on your system and create some space.

Run all pending Windows updates on your current installation. Microsoft may have patched your issue in an update you haven’t applied yet.

Also, disable all antivirus programs and firewalls. If you’re performing an installation through Windows, security tools may interfere. Make sure you’ve restarted your PC recently as well, to clear up any temporary bugs.

Finally, on Windows 10, try the Windows Update troubleshooter at Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot > Windows Update. There’s no guarantee that this will fix anything, but it’s worth a try.

While we focus on installation in this guide, see how to fix Windows upgrade issues 6 Common Windows Upgrade Issues & How to Fix Them 6 Common Windows Upgrade Issues & How to Fix Them Upgrading Windows 10 can cause a number of complications. We show you what to watch out for and how to prevent or fix issues. Read More if you’re having trouble updating an existing system.

3. Check for Install Media Issues

Windows 10 Media Creation Tool ISO

The Windows 10 media creation tool makes it easy to install Windows 10 on pretty much any computer. However, you can run into a number of problems while using it.

It’s possible that the installer files became corrupted during creation. If this is the case, you’ll need to start fresh and create a new installer, since fixing it isn’t really possible. Follow our instructions to create Windows 10 install media How to Create Windows 10 Installation Media How to Create Windows 10 Installation Media Regardless of how you arrived at Windows 10, there's a way to create your own installation media. Sooner or later you might need it. Let us show you how to be prepared. Read More anew and try again.

If you try it again with a fresh installer and it still doesn’t work, you likely have a hardware issue. Try another USB drive, or a different disc, if you have one. It’s also possible that you have a faulty DVD drive or USB port.

4. Fix File Corruption

It’s possible that a corrupted file on your existing system is preventing the installation from working. To scan and repair these, right-click on the Start Button and choose Windows PowerShell (Admin) or Command Prompt (Admin). Then run the following command:

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth

After this completes, enter a secondary command to run the system file checker:

sfc /scannow

Try your installation again once this is done.

5. Confirm Your PC’s Specs

Windows 10 has some minimum requirements for installation. Pretty much any modern PC should have no trouble meeting them, but if you’re trying to install Windows on an old computer, they may cause a hiccup.

Your processor must have a speed of at least 1GHz. Additionally, the 32-bit version of Windows 10 requires 1GB of RAM, while the 64-bit version requires 2GB. Make sure you’ve chosen 64-bit or 32-bit Windows as appropriate How to Choose Between 32-bit & 64-bit Windows Operating Systems How to Choose Between 32-bit & 64-bit Windows Operating Systems When you install Windows, you can pick between the 32-bit and 64-bit version of the operating system. We help you choose the version that is right for you. Read More , too.

If you don’t meet these requirements, it’s time for a new computer. Windows 10 will not run smoothly at these bare minimums.

Troubleshooting Windows Installation Error Codes

Sometimes the Windows installer will fail with a specific error code. We look at some of these below and review the best steps for solving them.

Errors Starting With 0xC1900101

Any error that starts with this code is typically related to drivers. Make sure you’ve unplugged unneeded devices as mentioned above. Follow our guide to updating drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers Your drivers might be outdated and need updating, but how are you to know? Here's what you need to know and how to go about it. Read More and make sure crucial drivers, like graphics and chipset, are current.

You should also open the Device Manager by right-clicking the Start Button and choosing its entry on the resulting menu. Look for any devices with a yellow exclamation point icon beside them. Update the drivers for these devices or remove them if you don’t need them. Then try the installation again.

device manager

Error 0x80200056

This usually signifies that the update process didn’t complete successfully due to a power issue. When you try again, make sure your PC stays powered on the entire time. Plug it in if it’s a laptop, and avoid running the upgrade when your electricity may go out.

Error 0xC1900208 – 0x4000C

If you see this error, you likely have an incompatible app on your PC that’s blocking the installation. Uninstall any ancient apps you might have around, then try again.

Error 0x800F0922

This error appears when your computer can’t connect to the Windows Update servers. Disconnect from any VPNs and join a more reliable network, if possible.

Generic Error Messages

Something Happened Windows 10

Error messages like We couldn’t complete the updates. Undoing changes. Don’t turn off your computer and Failure configuring Windows Updates. Reverting changes don’t provide you with any specific information.

To see what happened, you’ll need to search in the Start Menu for update history and choose View update history. Look for the latest failures, note the error code, and Google it to see what’s up.

Windows Installation Made Easy

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to diagnose every possible Windows installation error in a general guide. But hopefully, these pointers let you rule out some causes and get the root of your issue. If not, you’ll likely need to dig into some more information about your specific error code.

To learn more about fixing problems like this, check out our introduction to Windows troubleshooting Windows Troubleshooting for Dummies Windows Troubleshooting for Dummies Windows takes a lot of crap for problems outside of its control. Learn about the biggest issues people incorrectly pin on Windows and how to actually troubleshoot them. Read More .

Explore more about: Troubleshooting, Windows 10.

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  1. Dragonmouth
    December 31, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    Or just install a Linux-based OS instead and put Windows in a virtual machine. Problem solved.