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How to Prepare for the Windows 10 May Update This Year

Failed Windows 10 updates can be frustrating, especially because you might not know what causes them. You can avoid most update errors with a few maintenance tasks even before you click the update button.

These tips will get you through the next Windows 10 update this spring (version 21H1) without breaking a sweat. Also, they are fundamental to any future updates as well.

Check If There Is Enough Disk Space

For an efficient Windows 10 update, make sure there is enough disk space. The type of update determines the space you need to keep vacant on your hard drive. While small updates such as patches or service packs don’t need more than hundreds of megabytes, major updates need way more than that.

According to Microsoft, you will need a minimum of 32 GB free space to install a major Windows 10 update.

You can always reschedule the update because of insufficient free disk space and use this as an opportunity to clean up the hard drive by deleting all non-essential files. Also, create a backup with only the files you want. This exercise will give you an idea of what file you want to include in the backup so you can do an anti-virus scan. There is no point in creating a backup containing infected files.

Disk problems can cause the update to fail so check it for errors too. Here’s how you can do it.

  1. Right-click on the C: drive (the default drive for the installation).
  2. Select Properties.
  3. Select the Tools tab and click the Check button.
Properties menu for C: drive in Windows 10

Windows 10 might display a message saying you don’t need to scan it but scan it anyway just to be sure. Scanning the drive will not slow down your work since you can use the drive while Windows 10 checks it.

Search for Corrupt Files

A corrupt file might create problems when updating the operating system or even stop the entire process. Fortunately, identifying and replacing corrupt files is quite easy. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Search for “command prompt” and click Command Prompt (you should run Command Prompt as administrator).
  2. Copy “sfc /scannow” inside the Command Prompt window and press Enter.

The system file checker command scans all system files and replaces corrupted files from their cached copies.

Check Administrative Privileges

There are two categories of user accounts: Standard and Administrator. While you can perform many activities using the Standard account, you can’t use it to update Windows 10.

Here’s how to find what type of account you are using:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. From the Settings menu, select Accounts.
  4. Click Your info.

    Info account in Windows 10

If “Administrator” is mentioned under your account name then you are ready to update Windows 10. Otherwise, you will have to get admin rights on Windows.

Backup Your Important Files

When it comes to updating Windows 10, it’s better to be safe than sorry. It might be easier to back up individual folders or documents using cloud storage or a physical backup than creating multiple Restore Points using the System Restore feature.

For your most important files and documents, you can use both options to make sure they are 100% safe. Choose a shock-resistant hard drive and encrypted cloud storage.

In case you rely on your browser to remember all login credentials and settings, you might have an unpleasant surprise after the Windows 10 update. There have been previous updates that have erased all stored information on the browser.

You can use a password manager which will keep your credentials in an encrypted vault and you only need your login ID and a master password to access it. Do not create a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet to hold these sensitive details as these are easy targets for hackers. A better idea would be to write down your credentials on a piece of paper and put it in a safe place.

Enable System Restore

In Windows 10, System Restore is a feature designed to take a snapshot of the current working state and create a restore point before any system modifications. If a critical problem takes place while you are performing changes to the system, you can use System Restore to return your device to a previous working state through a restore point without losing your files.

Here is how you can enable System Restore in Windows 10:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Search for “create a restore point” and select Create a restore point.
  3. From the Available Drives list, choose the main system drive.
  4. Select Configure to open a new window.

    Creating a restore point in Windows 10
  5. Check Turn on system protection. You can use the slider to select the storage amount you want to keep for the recovery feature.
  6. Click Apply.

Note: By clicking the Delete button, you will remove all restore points. Make sure you do not delete a previous restore point before creating a new one. You can delete older restore points if you need to free up space.

Windows 10 will now create a new restore point when completing a new update or after specific system changes. You can also create restore points manually before making system changes.

Update the Drivers

Drivers are updated with every Windows 10 update. But third-party drivers can cause Windows update installation problems that show up as an error that begins with 0xC1900101. Check all third-party drivers and update them if necessary.

Here is how you can update the drivers.

  1. Click the File Explorer icon.
  2. Right-click This PC and select Manage.
  3. From the Device Manager list, select System tools. This will display a list of all the drivers installed.

    Computer management menu in Windows 10
  4. Select a driver, right-click it and select Update Driver.

Clear the Startup Programs List

If Windows 10 has more startup tasks to complete, the update can take longer. Removing startup programs will speed up the update. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Open the Task Manager windows. You can do this by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete or right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager.
  2. Select the Startup tab.
  3. To remove a program from the list, select it and click Disable.

    Task manager window in Windows 10

Keep only your mouse and keyboard connected. If there are any non-essential devices (like external storage devices and drives) connected to your PC or laptop while updating Windows 10, the update installation can slow down.

This is because Windows 10 is attempting to detect them and search for appropriate drivers. Even storage devices such as a USB flash drive or peripherals like docks can interfere with the update.

Follow These Tips for a Smooth Windows 10 Update

We have put together some of the best practices when it comes to Windows 10 updates so you know how to prepare your device, how to protect your files, what might slow down the update, and more. Despite your best intentions, the next update can get stuck for some unforeseen reasons. There are ways to troubleshoot that too and make the whole process less nerve-wracking.


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