Windows 11 update error due to WinRE partition explained by Microsoft (KB5028997)

Windows[German]Users of Windows 11 may run into the problem that the monthly updates or preview updates fail during installation since the end of June 2023. A too small WinRE partition on the system drive can be to blame for this. Microsoft has now revealed some details in a support article and explained how this WinRE partition could be enlarged.


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What is the WinRE partition

The abbreviation WinRE stands for Windows Recovery Environment. This Windows Recovery Environment is a minimal Windows installed on a separate partition, which is based on Windows PE. Windows PE stands for Windows Preinstallation Environment, the environment used during setup to install the operating system.

In WinRE the Windows pre-installation environment (Windows PE) is used, if necessary with additional drivers, to be able to repair the Windows installation or restore it from a backup or roll back from backed up System Restore files. In addition, a command prompt is available to perform various functions such as system file check, dism, etc.

WinRE partition and changed update policy

Microsoft has introduced a change as of June 27, 2023. Since this date, the content of the WinRE partition on Windows 11 version 22H2 is updated monthly with each cumulative update. This change only applies to systems whose updates are rolled out via Windows Update (WU) and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

The problem with this is that on some systems, the recovery partition where WinPE resides is not large enough to successfully complete these monthly cumulative updates. Partitions that are 400 to 500 megabytes in size are needed. With smaller partition sizes, the installation fails and the system displays error messages such as "Windows Recovery Environment servicing failed" or a German equivalent.

Enlarge WinRE partition

The solution to the above update installation problem is then to enlarge the partition for WinPE. However, the WinRE partition is usually in front of the system partition where Windows is installed. On the other hand, Windows does not have an on-board function to move partitions in order to be able to enlarge a WinRE partition that is "at the beginning".


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Those who use third-party disk partitioning tools can boot the system with their recovery environment, and then have the WinRE partition enlarged. The tools also offer the option to shrink and move the Windows system partition and other partitions to make room for the WinRE partition expansion.

In order to solve the problem with on-board means, Microsoft resorts to a trick: The WinRE partition is simply moved to the end of the occupied partitions, into a free area of the data carrier and created there in the required size. In the support article KB5028997: Instructions to manually resize your partition to install the WinRE update, Microsoft takes up this approach and explains how to solve this problem manually with on-board means for Windows 11 22H2.

  • To do this, the WinRE partition must be disabled in an administrative command prompt with the reagentc /disable command.
  • Then the last partition on the storage medium must be reduced so that there is enough free space for a new WinRE partition (1 GByte should be sufficient). This can be done with the diskpart command in the command prompt.
  • In the next step, the new WinRE partition is created with diskpart and reactivated with reagentc /enable.

The details of the commands to be executed can be read in the support article KB5028997. However, it looks like Microsoft's instructions do not work. The colleagues from German site  deskmodder.de have listed further intermediate steps in this post, which are necessary to successfully change the WinRE partition.

Personally, I would forgo the fiddling provided by Microsoft and work with one of the graphical partition managers available on the market. I myself used Gparted years ago and booted it from CD-ROM.

But what annoys me at this point: The problem of the too small WinRE partition as a possible cause of errors during the update installation has been known since at least Windows 7 (by memory even before), that is, for at least 15 – 20 years. During this time, Microsoft has released several Windows versions with lots of little balks and gimmicks, touting how great they are. Until today, however, neither a working backup solution nor a partition tool that can also move partitions to enlarge them has been implemented. Instead, administrators have to fiddle around with third-party tools or the tricks outlined above to fix the problem. This is an indictment of Redmond. (via)


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