How to Perform a Repair Upgrade in Windows 11
The ultimate guide for repairing Windows 11 with an in-place upgrade which will install a fresh OS while keeping your files and apps intact.
If you notice that your Windows 11 is not working as well as you expect it to, you can perform a repair upgrade to fix multiple issues at once. This is a recommendation often given by Windows experts when individual fixes are not effective. A repair upgrade is primarily aimed at fixing issues that prevent the proper functioning of Windows without losing your data. Performing a repair upgrade can fix corrupted or missing system files and resolve multiple issues that you may be facing with your computer.
To perform a repair upgrade (in-place upgrade), all you need is the Windows 11 ISO file which can get for free from the official Microsoft website. In this article, we will cover how to perform a repair upgrade or in-place upgrade on a Windows 11 PC.
What is a Repair Upgrade in Windows 11?
A repair upgrade, also known as an in-place upgrade or repair install, is a process of reinstalling Windows 11 on top of an existing installation, without deleting any personal files, settings, or applications. This means that all your existing data, applications, and configurations will be preserved after the upgrade.
An in-place upgrade is the opposite of a clean install, which involves wiping the hard drive and installing a fresh copy of the operating system. With an in-place upgrade, you can also upgrade to Windows 11 from an earlier version of Windows (such as Windows 10 or Windows 8.1) without having to reinstall all your programs and transfer your files.
When Should You Perform a Repair Upgrade or an In-Place Upgrade on Windows 11?
Performing an in-place upgrade to Windows 11 can be a good idea in certain circumstances. Here are some situations when you may want to consider performing a repair upgrade in Windows 11:
System files are corrupted: If you’re experiencing frequent errors or crashes on your Windows 11 PC, it may be due to corrupted system files. A repair upgrade can help replace the damaged files and restore system stability.
Reset Windows 11 without losing your files and applications: If you want to start fresh with Windows 11 but don’t want to lose your files and applications, a repair upgrade can help you achieve this.
Upgrade to a newer version of Windows 11: If you want to upgrade to a newer version of Windows 11, but the upgrade process fails or encounters errors, a repair upgrade can help repair any issues and complete the upgrade process.
Keep your applications and data: An in-place upgrade is the best way to keep all your applications and data while upgrading to Windows 11. This is the best method if you don’t want to go through the trouble of re-installing everything.
Windows 11 is not functioning properly: If you are encountering issues with your Windows, such as slow performance, software errors, or driver conflicts, a repair upgrade may help resolve the problems without losing any of your personal data.
Upgrade to Windows from an Older Windows version: If you want to upgrade to Windows 11 from an earlier version of Windows (such as Windows 10 or Windows 8.1) without having to reinstall all your programs and move your files, then this is the best way to do it.
Don’t have a lot of free space: If you don’t have a lot of free space on your PC, an in-place upgrade may be a better option. You don’t have to worry about freeing up space to install a new operating system.
Keep current settings and configurations: If you’re happy with the way your PC is set up, an in-place upgrade may be a good option. You won’t have to start from scratch and reconfigure everything.
While an in-place upgrade can save your files and programs, it may not always fix all issues or conflicts that you may be experiencing on your PC. If you’re having severe hardware problems or malware infections, a clean install of Windows 11 may be a better option. Additionally, if you have a lot of outdated or incompatible apps and drivers, it may be better to perform a clean install.
Perform a Windows 11 Repair Upgrade/ In-Place Upgrade Using ISO File
The simplest and most direct method for repairing your Windows 11 installation is through an In-Place upgrade. Here’s how you to do it:
Requirements to Perform In-Place Upgrade
Here are some requirements you need to meet to perform a repair upgrade of Windows 11:
- You will need a Windows 11 ISO file to perform the repair upgrade.
- Make sure that the Windows 11 ISO file you use to repair your computer is in the same language, edition, version, and same or higher build as the current Windows 11 installation.
- You need to have administrator access to perform a repair upgrade on your Windows 11 system. If you are using a standard account, you will need to get permission from an administrator to do the repair.
- Before you start the repair upgrade process, make sure your computer is plugged in or has enough battery power to complete the process.
- You need an internet connection.
- Ensure that your system has enough free space, such as at least 20 GB or more.
- You can only perform a repair install of Windows 11 from within Windows 11, and not at boot or in Safe Mode.
- You should also disable, pause, or uninstall any third-party antivirus programs to prevent any interference.
Back up your important files
Before performing any major system operation, it’s always a good idea to back up your important files just in case something goes wrong. You can do this by copying your files to an external hard drive, cloud storage, or any other storage device.
Download Windows 11 ISO File
To perform an in-place upgrade in Windows 11, you need to download the Windows 11 installation file, either as an ISO file or through the Windows 11 Installation Media creation tool.
First, go to Windows 11 download page. Then, navigate to Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO) for x64 device section and choose the ‘Windows 11 (multi-edition ISO for x64 device’ option from the drop-down.
Next, choose the language for the operating system and click ‘Confirm’.
Then, select the ’64-bit Download’ button to download the ISO file. The download link will only be valid for 24 hours from the time of creation.
Alternatively, if you cannot directly download the ISO file, there’s another way can download the Windows 11 ISO file: using the Media Creation Tool, which you can download from the same page.
On the Windows 11 download page, click the ‘Download Now’ button under the ‘Create Windows 11 Installation Media’ section.
After the file is downloaded, navigate to the location where it’s saved and double-click on ‘mediacreationtool.exe’. This will start the Windows 11 setup process. Read the license agreement and click ‘Accept’ if you agree to the terms.
By default, the setup selects ‘English’. If you wish to change the language, uncheck the ‘Use the recommended options for this PC’ option and choose a language. Then, click ‘Next’.
Next, choose the ‘ISO file’ option and click ‘Next’.
Then, choose where you want to save the file and click ‘Save’.
Wait for the download to complete and then you can use the downloaded ISO file to mount to your computer.
Repair and Upgrade Windows 11
To run the Windows 11 setup, you need to mount the Windows ISO file to your computer or burn the ISO file to a DVD.
Once the ISO file is downloaded, locate and right-click the ISO file (e.g Win11_22H2_English_x64v1.iso) and then choose the ‘Mount’ option.
And when you see the Open File – Security Warning dialog window, click ‘Open’.
This will mount Windows 11 ISO file to a DVD drive. Now, launch the File Explorer and open the mounted drive.
Next, double-click on the ‘setup.exe’ file to launch the Windows setup. Click ‘Yes’ when prompted by User Account Control.
It will take a few seconds for the setup to load. Once the Setup opens, click on the ‘Change how Setup downloads updates’ setting.
On the next page, you can choose whether you want to get updates during this repair upgrade. If you want to download the latest updates and install them along with Windows, select the ‘Download updates, drivers, and optional feature’ option. If you do not want any updates, you can click on ‘Not right now’. Then, click ‘Next’.
If you want, you can uncheck the ‘I want to help make the installation better’ option here.
Next, click ‘Accept’ to accept the licensing terms and conditions.
Here, you can choose what to keep from the current Windows installation based on your requirement. You have three options to select from – ‘Keep personal files and apps’, ‘Keep personal files only’, or ‘Nothing (Clean Install)’. If you want to upgrade your PC with the same files and apps, select ‘Keep personal files and apps’ and then click ‘Next’.
Wait for the setup process to verify if your system meets the requirements for installing the upgrade.
Finally, click the ‘Install’ button to begin the installation process.
Depending on your computer’s specifications, the installation process will take several minutes to complete during which your PC will restart several times. Just sit back and let the installation process finish.
Once the installation process is complete, after the final restart, you should see the Windows 11 login screen. If you have chosen the ‘Keep your personal files and apps’ option during installation, you will see all your existing accounts on your login page. If you’ve selected the other options, you would have to create new accounts.
After you log in, check for any available updates and install them. This will ensure that your system is up-to-date and running smoothly.
By following these steps, you should be able to repair and install Windows 11 with an in-place upgrade. This will reinstall Windows 11 over your current installation while preserving your personal files, applications, and settings.
Repair-Upgrade Windows 11 using an Installation Media (DVD or USB)
If you are trying repair-upgrade a Windows PC offline or a PC without an internet connection, you will need a Windows bootable media (USB or DVD). You can use the media creation tool or Rufus tool to make a bootable USB or DVD. Follow these steps to create a bootable media (USB stick or DVD):
Go to Microsoft’s official Windows 11 download page. Scroll down to the ‘Create installation media for Windows 11’ section, and click the ‘Download now’ button.
Once the download is complete, locate the downloaded file (mediacreationtool.exe) and double-click on it to run the wizard.
On the Windows 11 Setup window, click ‘Accept’ to continue.
If you want to change the language, uncheck the box next to ‘Use the recommended options for this PC’ and choose the language from the drop-down. Then, click ‘Next’.
Choose the media where you want to use to save the installation files, either a USB flash drive or an ISO file that can be burned onto a DVD.
If you choose ‘USB flash drive’, select the USB drive you want to use from the list of drives, and click ‘Next’.
If you choose ‘ISO file’, it will download the files as an ISO file which you can use to burn to a DVD later. This will take several minutes to complete the process.
Remember, your flash drive will be formatted during this process, so make sure to copy all the files from the drive before you begin.
After the download is complete, click ‘Finish’ to close the wizard.
Once the bootable media is ready, insert the bootable USB flash drive or DVD into the PC you want to upgrade and run the ‘setup.exe’ file. And then follow the procedure in the above method to repair and upgrade your PC.
Repair-Upgrade Windows through a USB Drive or DVD (If Windows isn’t booting)
If your computer is not booting properly for you to access the Windows 11 ISO file or the ‘setup.exe’ file bootable media, there is another way you can try. You can create a bootable USB or DVD with the latest version of Windows installation media and use it to boot your PC. Once you’re in the setup, you can choose the upgrade option and follow the on-screen instructions. Here’s how you can do this:
First, insert the bootable USB or DVD into the computer which you want to upgrade to Windows 11 and restart or turn on the PC.
At the point when your PC is starting up, press the key specific to your computer to access the boot menu. The keys to accessing the Boot menu can vary depending on the manufacturer of your computer or motherboard – Esc, F2, F9, F10, or F12. It is important to press or continuously press this key as soon as the display lights up. Additionally, the boot menu key may be indicated on the startup screen of some computers.
Once you have accessed the boot menu, you can select the bootable USB or DVD that you have inserted by using the Up and Down arrow keys to navigate and pressing ENTER to make your selection.
After selecting the installation media, you will need to wait a few minutes while the necessary preparations are made. Once complete, the Windows Setup screen will appear, as depicted below. The first step is to select ‘Install now’.
On the following screen, you can select your preferred Windows language, time and currency format, and Keyboard or input method, before clicking ‘Next’.
Next, you need to enter the product key. If your PC does not have a digital license or you have never installed and activated Windows on this device before, an Activate Windows screen will be displayed. You will need to enter a valid Windows product key and click ‘Next’. However, if you are reinstalling Windows or do not have the product key at this time, you can skip this step by clicking the ‘I don’t have a product key’ option to proceed.
Next, choose the ‘Upgrade: Install Windows and keep files, settings, and applications’ option to perform Windows 11 upgrade.
Then, follow the onscreen instruction to upgrade your Windows. The Windows setup will guide you through the rest of the process.
Refresh/ Reset Windows 11 Without Losing Data by Resetting the PC
The In-place upgrade re-installs Windows over the current Windows installation using an ISO file or bootable media to fix issues. However, if you don’t have a Windows ISO file or bootable media, there’s another way you can repair your Windows problems which is by resetting the Windows.
When you reset your Windows 11 PC, the operating system will be reinstalled from a backup image or cloud service. During this process, you have the option to retain your personal files while erasing all applications and settings. This approach removes all third-party apps, drivers, and customized settings, restoring your computer to its default state as it was when you first installed the operating system. Here are the detailed instructions to reset your Windows 11 PC:
Press the Windows + I keys on your keyboard simultaneously to open the Settings app. In the Settings app, click on the ‘System’ tab. On the right-hand side, scroll down and click on the ‘Recovery’ option.
Under the Recovery options section, click on the ‘Reset PC’ button.
This will open the ‘Reset this PC’ dialog box, where you will have to choose one of the following two options:
- ‘Keep my files’: This option will remove all the third-party apps, drivers, and settings, but it will keep your personal files.
- ‘Remove everything’: This option will remove all your personal files from the libraries, along with the third-party apps, drivers, and settings.
Select the option that suits you the best.
Next, choose how you would like to reinstall Windows:
- If you choose ‘Cloud download’, Windows will download and reinstall the latest build of Windows 11 from the cloud. This option will require an internet connection and around 4 GB of data.
- If you choose ‘Local reinstall’, Windows will reinstall the same build of the OS from the backup image on your device. We recommend choosing the cloud download option, as local OS files could be compromised, but it’s up to you.
If you selected the Cloud download option, PC will automatically download and reinstall Windows which can use more than 4 GB of your data. Click ‘Next’ to continue.
In the next window, click on the ‘Next’ button.
Finally, click on the ‘Reset’ button to start the resetting process.
The process will take some time to finish, and your system will automatically restart after it’s complete.
Once the system restarts, Windows 11 will be reinstalled on your PC from the backup image or cloud service, depending on the option you chose. All your personal files will be kept if you selected the ‘Keep my files’ option, but all third-party apps, drivers, and settings will be removed. If you selected the ‘Remove everything’ option, then all your personal files will also be removed, and your computer will be restored to the default state when you first installed the OS.
Now, You have successfully reset your Windows 11 PC.
Reset Windows 11 via Recovery Mode
If you are having trouble signing into your Windows 11 PC or your system is acting up, you can repair it via recovery mode. Recovery mode also allows you to repair your Windows 11 without logging into your account or accessing the Windows Settings app. Follow these step-by-step instructions to repair Windows 11 via recovery mode:
Turn on your computer and head to the Sign-in screen. Now click the power icon and then select the ‘Restart’ option while holding the Shift key on your keyboard. This will restart your PC into the Windows Recovery Environment.
Once you are in the Windows Recovery Environment, click the ‘Troubleshoot’ option.
On the Troubleshoot screen, click the ‘Reset this PC’ option.
You will be asked whether you want to keep your personal files or remove everything. Choose your desired option here.
Next, you will be asked how you want Windows to be installed on your system. If you choose the ‘Cloud download’ option, it will download the necessary files from Microsoft’s servers, and you’ll end up with a new copy of Windows 11 after the process is done.
On the next screen, click the ‘Reset’ button at the bottom to start the process.
Wait for the process to finish, which might take a while depending on your settings.
By following these steps, you can repair your Windows 11 PC via recovery mode without the need to log in or access the Windows Settings app.
Rollback to the Previous Version of Windows 11
As we mentioned before, the repair upgrade or in-place upgrade is not always used to fix a damaged or malfunctioning installation of the Windows operating system but is also used to upgrade to the Windows 11 version or Windows OS version (Windows 10, 11, etc).
In case you upgrade from the previous Windows 11 version to the latest version (like 21H2 to 22H2) or an older Windows OS version to Windows 11 (like Windows 10 to Windows 11) to test it out, you can easily roll back to the previous Windows 11 version or Windows OS version if the upgraded version isn’t working.
Before you roll back to the previous build, you should know that after going back you will have to reinstall apps and programs you installed after installing the update. And you will lose all your configurations and settings changes after installing the latest build.
It’s also worth mentioning that you can only roll back to the previous version within 10 days of updating. Here are the step-by-step instructions to roll back to the previous build of Windows 11:
Click on the Start menu and select the ‘Settings’ option.
In the Settings window, click on the ‘System’ tab on the left pane. Scroll down and select the ‘Recovery’ option.
If it’s been less than 10 days since you updated, you should see a ‘Go back’ button under the ‘Recovery’ section. Click on the ‘Go back’ button.
The ‘Go back to earlier build’ wizard window will open. On the first page, select a reason why you are going back to the earlier build of Windows 11 and click ‘Next’.
Windows will ask whether you want to check for the latest updates for the current build to try and fix the problems that you are facing. If you want to do that, you can hit the ‘Check for updates’ option. If you decided to roll back to the previous build, click the ‘No, thanks’ button.
Note the information under the ‘What you need to know’ page – This will inform you what will happen when you revert to the previous build. Then, click ‘Next’.
Also, you will be informed that the process will take some time to complete, so make sure your PC is plugged in and turned on.
If you have set a password or pin on the previous build and you changed it recently, make sure you know the original password of the old version to sign into that version. Then, click ‘Next’.
Finally, click the ‘Go back to earlier build or version’ button to start the process.
The system will reboot automatically and the setup process will take some time to complete. Once it’s done, your system will revert to the previous version of Windows 11.
After completing these steps, you should be back to the previous version of Windows 11 on your PC.
Extend Windows 11 Build/ Version Rollback Period
Windows 11 provides an option to go back to the previous version or build of Windows within the first 10 days of installing a new build. This is helpful in case you encounter any issues or errors after updating to a new build, and you want to revert to the previous stable build of Windows 11.
However, sometimes you might need more time to evaluate the new build before making a decision. In such cases, Windows 11 allows you to extend the rollback period beyond the default 10 days. You can choose to extend it up to 30 or 60 days, depending on your preference. Here are step-by-step instructions to extend the Windows 11 build/version rollback period:
Open the Start menu, and type ‘cmd’ in the search bar. Right-click on the ‘Command Prompt’ option that appears and select the ‘Run as administrator’ from the drop-down menu.
In the command prompt window that appears, type the following command:
DISM /Online /Get-OSUninstallWindow
Press Enter to run the command. The command will display the current rollback period, which is 10 days by default.
To extend the rollback period to 30 days, type the following command:
DISM /Online /Set-OSUninstallWindow /Value:30
The command will set the rollback period to 30 days. To verify that the rollback period has been extended, run the first command again. The output should show the new rollback period of 30 days.
If you want to extend the rollback period to 60 days instead, repeat the second command again but change the value to 60:
DISM /Online /Set-OSUninstallWindow /Value:60
The command will set the rollback period to 60 days. To verify that the rollback period has been extended to 60 days, run the first command again. The output should show the new rollback period of 60 days.
Once you have set the new rollback period, you can use Windows 11 for the specified number of days before deciding whether to roll back to the previous build/version or not.
That’s it. Whatever problems you were facing with your system, hopefully, performing the repair upgrade helps you solve them.