Windows 10: Upgrade error 0xC1900101 – 0x20004

Some users are receiving error 0xC1900101 – 0x20004 during upgrade from Windows 7/8.1 to Windows 10 (GA). Here are a few tips and workarounds to overcome this error.


The error description

The error has been reported during upgrading Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 (final and Preview Builds). The users are observing that install progress stall at 25%. This is the step, where install files are copied to the destination partition. The copy process stops at 84% and setup drops error code 0xC1900101 – 0x20004. The error message reported is:

Error 0xC1900101 – 0x20004

The installation failed in SAFE_OS phase with an error during INSTALL_RECOVERY_ENVIRONMENT operation.

INSTALL_RECOVERY_ENVIRONMENT is the environment used by Windows 10, to process a rollback to the previous Windows install, if an non recoverable error occurs. The error has been reported also during Upgrade to Windows 8.1 and indicates, that something went wrong exchanging/copying.

Try a log file analysis

Windows 10 setup creates log files located in the hidden folders:


In folder Panther are *.log files, while folder Rollback contains *.txt files. We need to copy the *.log files via context menu to the desktop. Then it's possible to open the log-files in Windows editor. This Technet-thread contains parts of a setuperr.log with indications that something went wrong during WLAN driver init. In some cases, the analysis shows which driver are causing the error.


Workaround #1: Uninstall your Antivirus/Internet Security Suites

I've mentioned in my German Windows 10 Upgrade-Troubleshooting FAQ – Teil 1: During upgrade to Windows 10, third party system tools like AV programs, Internet Security Suites or other system tools (virtual discs) can be a show stopper. Therefore uninstall these tools before upgrading. In case of AV software, it's mandatory to execute also a clean tool provided by AV vendors, to clean the system from filter drivers and left over installation files/settings.

Workaround #2: Remove all unused SATA devices

There has been several reports, that DVD drives and other SATA drives are conflicting with Install Recovery Environment. Here and here users are reporting, that removing SATA DVD drive and removing SATA cables from unused devices has fixed the install issue.

There is a simple cause for this issue: Some main boards are using SATA controllers that doesn't support AHCI mode – which is required during setup. In this case exchanging the SATA driver is a show stopper.

Workaround #3: Convert dynamic discs to basic disks

A user comment in my German blog article indicates another show stopper for Windows 10 upgrade:

I had a simlare problem, installation aborted among 25% with the INSTALL_RECOVERY_ENVIRONMENT error
The problem was my dynamic disk, windows cannot create a recovery partition on this type of disk.
You have to revert back to basic disk with third party tools like partition wizard

Workaround #4: Remove all unused devices and drivers

If the recommendations given above doesn't help, try to process the following check list – because there has been several hints, that incompatible drivers or hardware acts as a show stopper.

  • There has been a German MS Answers forum post from user "der Grieche" reporting, that removing "wrong" WWAN miniport entries in device manager has solved the upgrade issue.
  • In this Technet posting an incompatible WLAN network chip was the root cause for setup conflicts. Deactivating the WLAN chip solved the issue.
  • Here (user arik5405) reports that deinstalling all unused drivers was the cure for the upgrade issue.
  • Remove all unused USB devices.
  • Also an overclocked system can be the cause for clock_watch_timeout error.

Workaround #5: Update your drivers and BIOS

A User posts in MS Answers forum another solution for his problem on a HP Pavilion G6-2244ca. First he received error 0xc1900101-0x2000c. Then he decided to download the iso and getting the error 0xc1900101-0x20004 during upgrade.

His solution: He downloaded all drivers and bios from HP site – completed all updates – and then did the upgrade without any issue.

Another user was able to upgrade from Windows 7 after executing Windows Update-troubleshooter (click). Hope it helps to fix the issue.

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11 Responses to Windows 10: Upgrade error 0xC1900101 – 0x20004

  1. Mauro says:

    About Workaround #3 i used another solution..
    i've converted my dinamics disks to basic using Paragon Hard Disk Manager 15 without loosing any data..

  2. Ed says:

    Tried all of the recommended solutions having to do with W10 install stuck on 25%/84% and "Failed in SAFE_OS phase during "ISTALL_RECOVERY_ENVIRONMENT" and finally got it to work with:
    1) Clean boot
    2) Disconnecting all internal SATA drives (I had three) but my OS was on 250GB SSD
    3) Doing repair of Windows Update
    4) Installing from ISO disk
    About 30 hours burned on this update but it's finally done.

  3. Eileen Magor says:

    Please help!
    Tried to install W10. After the process the screen has just come up blank.
    Ive unplugged externals but no response. Tried windows/p – nothing

    There is a brief show of windows sign and circle meaning "in progress" on startup but then nothing.
    Clueless! Not tech savvy at all.

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  7. Rajesh says:

    I have error 0xC1900101-0X20003

  8. Anthony says:

    I had the exact same error. After several attempts I tried one more thing:

    I disconnected the SATA Cable from my DVD Drive. That's it. I tried to update again, and it worked.

  9. Fernando says:

    I have the error 0xc1900101 – 0x30017 when trying to install Windows 10 pro 64 bits from Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bits. Can you help me?

  10. Pingback: 12 irritating Windows 10 installation issues, and how to fix them | Virtue IT Solutions

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