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How to repair Windows 10 by doing an in-place upgrade

Are you getting lots of errors when you log into Windows 10? Are you not able to get the Start menu or File Explorer to open? If so, it may be time to repair Windows 10 by doing an in-place upgrade.

Sometimes repairing Windows 10 can be a challenging endeavor. One time I had a Windows 10 system that the right-click mouse function would only work in certain situations.

Another time, I had a Windows 10 system that File Explorer and the Start menu would not work. This was one of those times when you think that you are going to just have to wipe the drive and do a clean installation of Windows 10.

But in both cases, I was able to repair Windows 10 while keeping all of the user's documents, settings and installed programs. I just performed an in-place upgrade of Windows 10.

Remember that if you start the in-place upgrade by booting your computer up on the Windows 10 installation media, you will only get the option of saving your documents. To also preserve the installed programs, you need to start the in-place upgrade from inside of Windows 10.

Now performing an in-place upgrade is not hard. The only thing you need to do it is make the Windows 10 installation media. If you can access the Internet and download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool, great. If not, you will need to use another computer to make the Windows 10 installation media.

You do not have to be upgrading to a newer version of Windows 10 (1709 to 1803, 1803 to 1809) for this to work. You can perform an upgrade to the same version (1809 to 1809).

Now you never want to use an older version of the Windows 10 media, like one you created a couple years ago, to do an in-place upgrade. You will always want to download the latest version directly from Microsoft using the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool.

To make the media you will need either a blank DVD or a USB flash drive that is at least 8GB in size. Remember that if you use a USB flash drive it will be reformatted and everything on it will be erased. So, if you have used the USB drive for anything else, you may want to copy the data off of it before using it for the Windows 10 installation media.

Once you download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool, just double-click on it. It is a stand-alone program that does not need any installation. Just double-click and run.

The first screen that comes up is the legal stuff, just click on Accept. On the next screen you will have to choose what you want to do.
Windows 10 installer what do you want to do screen
Select Create installation media for another PC and click on Next.

On the next screen you will select the language, architecture and edition.
Windows 10 installer select language and edition screen
Since you are creating the media for another computer, make sure Use the recommended options for this PC check box is deselected. The majority of users in the US will select the following settings:

  • Language: English (If you use a different language, select it from the pull-down menu)
  • Edition: Windows 10
  • Architecture: 64-bit (x64)

When you are finished selecting the language, architecture and edition click on Next. The next screen will ask you what media do you want to use.
Windows 10 installer choose which media to use screen
If you select USB flash drive, make sure you have the USB flash drive inserted into a USB port on the computer.

If you want to make a DVD, you will need to choose ISO file and then burn it onto a blank DVD. Here is how to go about burning the ISO file to a DVD.

Once you have the media created, either a DVD or USB flash drive, you will need to inserted it in the computer that you want to repair.
Windows 10 setup program in File Explorer
Then just open File Explorer, navigate to the DVD or USB flash drive and right-click on the setup.exe program and select Run as administrator.
Windows 10 installation start up screen
The Windows 10 installer will then start up.

You will be prompted to download Windows 10 updates, drivers and optional features. Since you are doing an in-place upgrade, I recommend waiting until the installation is finished before doing any updates.

The next screen you will get is the license agreement. Just click Accept in the lower right-hand corner and continue with the in-place upgrade. Finally, you will get to the screen that asks what you want to keep. Make sure that Keep personal files and apps are selected and then select Install in the lower right-hand corner.

The in-place upgrade will take some time and your computer could restart a few times before it is complete. When it is done, your version of Windows 10 should be completely repaired and good as new.

Now in the examples I talked about earlier, I could not get either the right-click function to work or could not get the Start menu or File Explorer to open at all. But there is another way of starting the in-place upgrade using Task Manager.

How to start a program using Task Manager

Sometimes the only way to run a program is to use Task Manager. It is a simple, down and dirty way of running a program with administrative privileges. And we want to use admin privileges to run the setup.exe program.

  1. Press the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys all at the same time (the 3-finger salute).
    The Windows 10 Ctrl Alt Delete screen
    You will get a screen that has several selections on it. Click on Task Manger.
  2. The Task Manager program will appear next.
    The basic Windows 10 Task Manager screen
    If it shows says There are no running apps, click on the More details arrow in the bottom left-hand corner. This will bring up all of the running processes.
  3. Click on the File drop-down menu in the upper left-hand corner of Task Manager
    The advanced Windows 10 Task Manager screen with Run new task
    and select Run new task.
  4. The Create a new task dialog box will appear.
    The Windows 10 Create new task dialog box
    Click on the Browse .. button in the lower right-hand corner.
  5. Using the Browse dialog box, navigate to the drive with the Windows 10 installation files (either DVD or USB flash drive),
    The Windows 10 Task Manager Browse screen
    select setup.exe and then click Open.
  6. This will bring you back to the Create new task dialog box and the path to the setup.exe program will be in the Open field.
    The Windows 10 Create new task dialog box with file path
    Make sure that the Create this task with administrative privileges check box is selected. Then click on OK.
  7. The Windows 10 installer will now start. Just follow the steps outlined previously in this article for the rest of the in-place upgrade.

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