1 Check the disk space
Major updates to Windows require a lot of disk space and probably more than you think. The reason is that a full copy of Windows installation files is around a 5GB download.
The installer will back up the Windows folder to c:\windows.old just in case the upgrade fails and it needs to undo everything. The Windows folder is a minimum of 15GB and it could be a lot more than this.
You therefore need at least 20GB of free disk space and I would not attempt to upgrade Windows with less than 30GB of free space.
Open Explorer and select This PC on the left. See how much space is left on C:. If there is less than 30GB you need to clear out old files and programs before upgrading.
Move photos and videos to a USB drive for example, and use Programs and Features in the Control Panel to uninstall large programs.
2 Check the disk for errors
Disk problems can cause Windows Update to fail, so before you start, check the disk.
Right click drive C: and select Properties on the menu. Select the Tools tab and click the Check button. If it says you don’t need to scan this drive, scan it anyway.
There is no point in optimising the disk before the upgrade, but it would be beneficial afterwards because the update is likely to generate a lot of fragmented files.
3 Check Windows files
Missing or corrupt Windows files will cause problems when installing the Creator’s Update, so check that everything is present and correct.
Type command prompt into the search box next to the Start button, right click it and select Run as administrator.
In the command prompt window, enter:
DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
It can take some time, but it will check Windows files and repair ones that are bad or missing.
4 More Windows checks
When it has finished, there is another command to check that Windows is OK. At the command prompt, enter:
This will also take 10 or even 20 minutes to complete, but it is worth it. If Windows Update fails, it can take hours to restore the system.
5 Back up your files
Windows Update is unlikely to lose your files, but it is better to back them up just in case. If you have not yet set up File History, now is a good time to do it.
Plug in a USB drive, go to the Control Panel and in small icons view, click File History. You just need to select the drive and enable it. Here’s how I set up a NAS drive with File History.
6 Back up the disk
File backups are useful when files go missing or are corrupted. You can open the backup and copy the missing files back to the PC’s disk.
File backups, such as those made by File History, cannot repair a PC that won’t boot up. They require a working PC. What if your PC fails to boot after the update?
To recover from this you need to do two things:
- Create a full system backup of the PC’s disk.
- Create recovery media - a CD or USB stick - to start the PC if it won’t start normally.
There is free backup software for Windows that can do this and they include EaseUS Todo Backup Free 10, and AOMEI BackupperStandard 4, and Paragon Software Backup & Recovery 14 Free Edition.
- How to back up your Windows PC using a brilliant free backup tool
- Backupper event driven backups for Windows PCs
- How to restore a backup of the disk in Windows using free software
7 Uninstall security software
Windows Update should work OK with security software installed and enabled. However, if you are running free security software like AVG, Avast or Avira, I would uninstall it just before upgrading.
It’s free, so you can simply download it and install it afterwards if you want. It also avoids any potential problems when upgrading.