Can’t Install the Anniversary Update

This would have to be one of the most prevalent complaints on help forums at the moment… Windows 10 Anniversary Update installation failures. While the Anniversary Update appears to be installing successfully on the vast majority of machines, there is obviously a quite significant number where this is not the case – including my very own. In my case, the installation has been consistently failing at around 75% following the second restart and with the following error message:

What’s most frustrating about my situation is that I have 4 machines running Windows 10, three older machines and one quite new machine with modern specs, and while all three older machines with outdated and unsupported drivers have installed the update just fine, the newer machine flatly refuses to cooperate. I’ve tried installing the Anniversary Update via Windows Updates, via the downloaded Windows 10 Upgrade executable, and even via a mounted Windows 10 1607 ISO, all to no avail.

What’s most frustrating for users facing this predicament is that nobody appears to have a clue why the update is failing. When an attempted installation fails an error logfile is created in a $Windows.~BT folder in the root of the C (system) drivethe full path to the logfile is C\$Windows.~BT\Sources\Panther\setuperr.log. Trouble is, much of this error logfile is indecipherable, at least to anyone less than a computer scientist with advanced knowledge of Microsoft’s error reporting system. Here’s an example of the setuperr logfile which was created following my last failed attempt:

Click image for full size

Obviously, the full width of the logfile contents wouldn’t fit on this page so I had to reduce it accordingly, but you get the idea. Even Microsoft MVPs are ignoring the contents of the logfile when posted by users seeking assistance, preferring to respond instead with a generic list of “things to try”. These lists generally include:

  • Completely uninstall antivirus software. When I asked a Microsoft MVP what the difference was from simply disabling the antivirus and all its associated services, he responded with: “Disabling will turn off all its functionality while uninstalling it will remove all its components“.
  • Remove all USB devices other than mouse and keyboard. This one makes sense. It’s a known fact the Windows installations will baulk, for example, if a USB external drive is connected. I’ve even read where users reported successfully installing the Anniversary Update after removing the wireless mouse’s USB receiver, although I find that difficult to comprehend.
  • Install in clean boot mode. Again, this makes perfect sense. Clean boot mode disables all startups, including security software, as well as all non-Microsoft services, thereby mitigating the risk of security software interference as well as potential third party software incompatibilities.
  • Disconnect from the internet. No idea why this might make a difference – perhaps to prevent software from phoning home and potentially disrupting the installation process. Regardless, it is a common suggestion, albeit always devoid of further clarification.
  • Update the BIOS. Again, I can’t really see why this would make any difference but hey, worth a try, right?

I’ve tried all of the above plus many other suggestions and potential solutions as well (including updating drivers), none of which have made a blind bit of difference. To add to the confusion, all of my other (older) machines installed the Anniversary Update perfectly with no such precautions or measures necessary.

Anniversary Update Fails – 2 Important Steps

  1. Before – Create a full system image backup: Make sure to create an image backup prior to installing the Anniversary Update. With an image backup safely tucked way, if a failed installation creates any issues, you’ll have an effective fallback position in place.
  2. After – Run sfc /scannow: One thing I did discover is that when the installation fails and Windows recovers to the previous version it invariably leads to system file corruptions. Sometimes running the sfc /scannow command will repair the corruptions but not always. So, if you’ve gone through this failed install>recovery process, you should always run sfc /scannow to check the integrity of your system.

To run sfc scannow you’ll need to open an elevated command prompt. Right click the Start button and choose Command Prompt (Admin), then type in sfc /scannow and hit Enter:

To give you some idea of what I’ve been going through this past week or so, here is a list of steps I’ve had to go through, including approximate times to completion:

  • Download the Anniversary Update: Approx 45 minutes
  • Go through the installation process: Approx 1 hour
  • Automatic recovery to previous version: Approx 10 minutes
  • Run sfc /scannow: Approx 20 minutes
  • Restore image backup (in case of corruptions): Approx 30 minutes
  • Start all over again trying something new

All up we’re looking at approximately 2hrs 45 mins per attempt (except for those attempts via the ISO which eliminate the time to download). Multiply that by the 14 attempts to date (call me Percy Verance) and you’ll understand why I haven’t written any articles this past week or so. I’ve been reluctant to clean install because I have $600+ worth of programs I’ve paid for which may or may not re-activate. Besides, I hate letting anything get the better of me. However, I do recognize when to admit defeat and so will be clean installing in the next few days. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Cheers… Jim

11 thoughts on “Can’t Install the Anniversary Update”

  1. Yeah let us know. I too have tried all the above. Not just WU, but also MCT and ISO.
    I have Win10 installed on four laptops, three on AU. The difficult one is my newest laptop, a ThinkPad Yoga, which refuses to restart or shut down after upgrade to AU, just get the spinning circle. So still on version 1511 there.
    And yes, on my Dell XPS – I even have to remove the wireless mouse USB receiver every time for it to boot up.
    I would say an OS basic is re/booting. Imagine a car that wouldn’t start or stop.
    And Windows 10 struggles with this?

    1. I finally got it installed paulderdash. It was a driver issue. I download and installed this freeware:

      It scanned and identified 17 driver updates then automatically downloaded and installed all 17. After which, the AU installation completed without a hitch. I’ll be publishing an update article with full details next week.

      1. Wayne Ruppersburg

        Thanks Jim for your article and link to freeware. I found 11 drivers that needed updating on my system. All seems well after updating them. Normally, I would be hesitant about driver update software…. I’ve heard bad things… but with your recommendation I proceeded.

        I guess I’m one of the lucky majority that has not had any problems with Win10 updates. I’m thanking my lucky stars.

  2. If you have previously upgraded from Windows 7 or 8 your boot sector will probably be 100Mb in size. The anniversary update seems to need more room to install. So it is worth using a partition manager to increase the size of this partition. I increased it to 375Mb and the update worked fine after 2 failed attempts.

    1. Hi Adrian, in my case the System Reserved partition (boot sector) was already 350MB and increasing it to 500MB made no difference at all.

      That said, you have made a good point for others reading here, so thank you for that.

  3. I have a laptop with Win 10 which has not yet received the 1607 update, mostly because I hardly ever use it when I’m home. However, I did leave it on an entire day (12hrs or so) in hopes that for it would happen, for better or worse.
    After reading the comments on this article I’m worried that it will fail. The machine was built to use Win 8.1, but I installed 10 on first boot and never actually used 8.1. However, I just checked and it only has something like 898 Gb in the C partition. Is it a certainty that the update will fail because that is too small? If so, what’s the easiest way of changing the partition size, and are there any ramifications to doing that?

    1. Don, 898 GB is huge. If you are referring to the 2 previous comments discussing the System Reserved partition, we were talking megabytes not gigabytes: one gigabyte = 1024 megabytes.

      In short, 898GB is masses of room, so no problem there. Please don’t be put off by the reported failures, they are well in the minority with most installs proceeding successfully. And, on the odd chance that something does happen to go wrong, we can always help you sort it out on the DCT forum:

      1. OH god, I meant 898 Mb, and thought I even double-checked it. Sorry about this. But my question still applies.
        Don Morgan Coventry, Ct

        1. No problem Don, a common error. However, we’d need a lot more information about your system drive, especially re partitions and such. I suggest you pop on over to the DCT Forum and start a new thread where you can post a screenshot from Disk Management

          Right click “This PC” and select “Manage”. Then, in the left hand panel of the “Computer Management” window, click “Disk Management”.

  4. I have a “Home Server.” I noticed that after I installed the Anniversary update on my Win10-64bit PC, the Home Server Connector was no longer on my desktop, nor was it on my Start Menu. The application was no longer listed in the Programs & Features Panel and did not show up in an IOBit Uninstaller list of installed software (my preferred uninstaller app). So I tried re-installing it … NOPE, it’s already installed. Good luck with that. It was nowhere to be found. Confused, I installed the latest version of Revo Uninstaller … and there it was. So, I used Revo to uninstall it and restarted my PC. I then attempted to reinstall the Home Server Connector application so I would be able to once again access my data on the Server. NOPE. It failed to install no matter what I tried (unplugging USB devices, turning off Windows Defender and Malwarebytes, etc.) Still NO LUCK. I did notice that my drive had a bad sector, so I did a clean install of the Anniversary update on a new drive and then tried installing Home Server Connector before re-installing all my other software. Worked like a champ. No muss, no fuss and it’s been working ever since. I hate having to do a clean install to fix an issue and spend the better part of a day installing all my regularly used software … but sometimes that’s the only way to make things work.

    That was my PC. Hubby’s was another story … like yours, it was a no go. Finally did a clean install on his as well. Needless to say, we have a lot of time invested in reinstalling software this month.

    1. Great story Vickie, thanks for sharing.

      I finally managed to successfully install the Anniversary Update in-place so, in the end, didn’t need to clean install. An upcoming article explains the how.

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