Updating Windows 10

Here are a few tips to avoid frustrating problems

By David Shinn

Since Windows 10 was introduced in 2015, it has been criticized for many issues. The one main issue is the update process. Windows Update is a service used to provide service packs and patches for the operating system and other software. It can also update hardware device drivers.

Back in 2016, Microsoft was very aggressive about upgrading Windows 7/8 users to Windows 10. In fact, Microsoft offered the upgrade at no charge for a short time. Depending on your update settings at the time, the Windows 10 upgrade was automatically-forced installed and surprise, surprise, surprise. This caused many problems back then and it could still be causing problems today in your Windows 10 updates. Old operating system files are still lingering and older devices may be incompatible with new drivers.

There have been numerous releases and updates. It can get confusing because it’s all referred to as Windows 10—but each major release has a particular version number. To add to the confusion, Windows 10 has been available as: Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 S.

Windows 10 S can only run applications downloaded from the Windows Store (meant to compete with the Google Chrome Book). The other versions of Windows 10 have the ability to install any software.


Major Windows 10 Releases

  • April 2017 - version 1703 (Creators Update)
  • October 2017 - version 1709
  • April 2018 Update - version 1803
  • October 9, 2018 Update - version 1809

The difference between a release and update you ask … a release is a major upgrade to the operating system… an update resolves smaller issues like: security patches and bug-fixes for major releases.

Windows 10 Update Failures

There have been many problems in 2018 with the Windows 10 updates. To help with installation, Microsoft has installed the Windows 10 Update Assistant on your computer (which you may have noticed as a new icon on your desktop). Below are a couple things to check before doing a major release update.

1) Make sure you have at least 10GB of hard drive space available and restart your computer

2) Always perform a complete data backup to an external hard drive.

Hard drive space

Major updates are normally 3-4GB in size. Some of the lower-cost laptops only have 32GB of hard drive space total.  When they get full, there isn’t enough room for the next update. This can cause a looping effect of error messages and boot problems.

Hardware device drivers

During a release install, the process can hang on an incompatible hardware device driver. The latest release is very particular on device drivers. The installation looks like it is progressing only to die around 85%-- with Windows Update Assistant saying “Something went wrong” and an error code (0x8007001f, 0xC1900101, or others).

In my experience, a release fails because of a lack of computer resources, a corrupt entry in the registry or hardware device driver incompatibilities.

Windows 10 Update Troubleshooting

You can spend hours of your life researching through the internet for solutions to your failed installation. Try downloading the free Windows Troubleshooter. It will often times find and resolve many issues. Note: Always do a full data backup to an external hard drive before proceeding with any troubleshooting ideas.



I have had many clients get so frustrated with failed update messages that they either uninstall the Update Assistant (which will magically be reinstalled by Microsoft) or just turn off the Windows Update process all together. Overall the updates are there to help with security and general computer operation. It could be a security risk down the road not to do updates, so eventually you need to resolve the problem.

The resolution of failed updates can be complex. I would suggest trying the Windows Troubleshooter… then call a technical support resource. Doing too much in the registry or deleting files in the Windows folder could lead you to a computer that will no longer boot or operate at all.

If problems get bad enough, we have to back up the data, format the hard drive and install the original operating system that came with the computer. The problem---- Windows 10 is no longer free, so if you want to go back to Windows 10 instead of the Windows 7/8 that came with your computer—you have to pay for it.

Note: Computers sold with Windows 10 from the manufacturer don’t have the problems that upgraded computers do. Upgrading often mixes different operating system files and device drivers and that’s where many of the update problem issues start.