Every Windows 10 update requires a certain amount of storage space on your hard drive to help the update install smoothly. Updates help ensure that your device has the latest features and security improvements so it continues to run efficiently and securely.
Before downloading an update, Windows checks to make sure there’s enough space on your device for installation. If there isn’t, you’ll see a message asking you to free up some space. Here’s an example of one of these messages:
The following instructions focus on freeing up space to install a Windows feature update. You can also learn about other ways to free up drive space and prevent future low disk space issues at Free up drive space in Windows 10.
Internal or external storage?
If your device doesn’t have enough space to install the latest update, you have two choices for clearing up disk space:
- Part A: free up space on your device by deleting nonessential files.
- Part B: use an external device such as a USB drive to temporarily extend your hard drive while the updates are being installed.
When prompted, you must complete Part A. This may free up all the space the update requires, or you may need to proceed to Part B, depending on the size of the update and the amount of disk space available on your device.
If your device has less than 50 GB total capacity on its hard drive, updating is easiest using an external storage device.
Part A: Free up space
If you see a More space needed for update message, here’s how to free up space on your device. Depending on how much space your device needs, you may also need to proceed to Part B and update using an external storage device.
Under More space needed for update, select Free up space
- This opens Storage in Settings, which shows how much space is available on your device. Select your C: drive to see what’s using the most space and to clear it by deleting nonessential files. (For tips, see Free up drive space in Windows 10).
- Return to More space needed for update and select the refresh icon next to the Free up space button. If you have enough free space to install the update now, a green check mark will appear next to the hard drive icon and More space needed for update will now read No more space needed.
Part B: Connect an external storage device
If your device’s hard drive capacity is less than 50 GB total, it is easiest to update using an external storage device like a USB key or external hard drive. Once you’ve freed up space following the instructions above, you can insert your external storage device to install the update.
Make sure you’ve backed up any important files from the external storage device, as it will be formatted in order to use it for updating.
- Connect your external storage device and wait until you see it appear in the drop-down list under Part B (you might need to select the refresh icon). If the external storage device has enough free space, a green check mark will appear next to the storage drive icon .
- Select Continue to finish installing the update.
Updating with your hard drive
If you don’t have external storage available and you selected I don’t want to use external storage, you’ll need to free up additional space on your hard drive. Follow the instructions in Part A above.