Windows 10 Installation Woes: “couldn’t update the system reserved partition”

Windows 10 Upgrade Woes: “couldn’t update the system reserved partition”

I’ve been prompted several times over the last week or so to upgrade the family computer to Windows 10, but every time I tell it to go ahead, I get an error message stating “couldn’t update the system reserved partition”. Frustrating, and I haven’t had the time to sit and figure it out; until earlier today, being Saturday August 8th.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t disseminate a few bits of information about said computer first, as an introduction to the basis of my frustration.

  • This is a Dell purchase, however not A Dell-branded machine, it’s an Alienware gaming machine.
  • It originally came with dual-512GB mechanical 7200 RPM drives in a RAID and a secondary drive for storage, running Windows 7. I have since upgraded both the hard drive system and operating system (OS) several times. It is currently running a 512GB SSD as a system partition and Windows 8.1.

As another piece of backstory, I seem to be statistically incapable of purchasing a Dell machine without it being a massive pile of shit. Even this non-Dell-branded machine has a problem, seemingly because it’s distributed by Dell. The problem is I cannot reboot this machine and have it boot into Windows successfully; it always locks up on a reboot. No “most of the time” or anything like that, it just simply will lock up if you reboot the machine.

‘That doesn’t seem like a big problem,’ you may be thinking to yourself. I did too at one point. However, where it becomes a real pain in the ass is when you’re installing an OS, which as previously stated, I have done on this machine several times.

See, when an OS installs, it begins by doing a bunch of preliminary work and then it reboots the computer to release locked OS files so it can overwrite/move them. When that reboot fails, there is logic in the install that believes the install is at fault and therefore failed. This for me means anytime I install anything major, especially an OS or OS update, I have to babysit the damn thing. Anytime it has to reboot, I have to turn the machine off when it restarts the hardware and then wait a few seconds and turn the machine back on, to simulate a reboot. It works most of the time.

It works exactly zero percent of the time when I get up and walk away from the computer during an install, say to help my wife take wind chimes down from the rooms upstairs.

At any rate, in order to even get to a point where the OS would install, I had to do a little digging, and find out how to fix my problem.

Thankfully, as is usually the case, someone else beat me to the solution and thankfully posted it online for all to read. I had to dig through a few sites to find the correct solution for Windows 10, which you can find here.

For your convenience, here are the instructions. Please note that the command in the middle is “icaCLs”, not “icaLCs”, which my fingers automatically typed in an effort to cause me to fling items across the room.

Press win+r and type diskmgmt.msc
Click on your C: drive

Below the list of drives there will be a partition map, the first partition will be Data or some such, listed at 100MB, right click on it and go to change drive letters and paths -> add -> now choose Y: for the drive letter

Right click the CMD.EXE start menu icon and choose ‘Run as Administrator’. Or, to open an admin cmd prompt, in win8 you can press win+x and choose command prompt (admin), in win7 you have to create a shortcut for cmd.exe, then go to compatibility in the shortcut properties, and choose run as admin.

**Type: Y: <enter> in the cmd window**

Run these commands:

takeown /f . /r /d y
icacls . /grant administrators:F /t <see note below>
attrib -h -s -r bootmgr

NOTE: for the icacls command you can use your username instead of administrators, to find out your username type ‘whoami’

Now open explorer (win+e) go to the Y: drive under computer, Make sure hidden files and system files are visible through folder options. Then go into the Boot folder, and delete all languages other than en-US. Languages are in the form xx-XX. Make sure to shift+delete and not just delete so they don’t go to the recycle bin. Empty the recycle bin afterwards just in case.

Now go back to the admin command prompt, and type this command:

chkdsk Y: /F /X /sdcleanup /L:5000

This truncates the NTFS log to 5MB, it can be very very big, not leaving enough space for the install. At the end of the output it should tell you that you have at least 50MB of free space on the partition. Proceed with the windows 8.1 10 installation

Once booted into 10 and set up, you can go back into diskmgmt.msc and remove the drive letter for the boot partition.

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