Windows 10 Broken After 1803 install

I’ve been meaning to document this somewhere for ages as a note for future reference!

When my PC in the office updated to Windows 10 1803 I had a bit of a problem…

Logging in took an age and I was then presented with the following error

C:\Windows\system32\config\systemprofile\Desktop refers to a location that is unavailable. It could be on a hard drive on this computer, or on a network. Check to make sure that the disk is properly inserted, or that you are connected to the Internet or your network, and then try again. If it still cannot be located, the information might have been moved to a different location.


The computer was basically unusable. Icons were missing from my desktop. Programs wouldn’t run and those that did took a long time to start. I couldn’t even right click on anything. It made troubleshooting very difficult.

I was able to boot into safe mode. I had a similar experience although I was able to do a little bit more (command prompt for example!). But wasn’t able to much in the way of troubleshooting.

Error message says the systemprofile\desktop folder was unavailable and I was able to confirm that folder was indeed missing. I created a new folder, and set the same permissions as it would normally have (if you google that error message that’s the solution that is generally suggested)

This didn’t work for me.

I was about to format the hard drive and start again with a clean install but I thought I’d give one more thing a try.

** Usual disclaimer at this point. Make sure you’ve got some sort of backup of your data before trying this. If you lose data by the following the steps below that’s not my fault! **

I downloaded the latest Windows 10 install media

Pressed Windows Key & R to get the run dialog. (as I couldn’t use the start menu!)

Entered cmd.exe and pressed Ctrl+Shift+Enter to elevate


Then ran powershell from here (as I couldn’t get powershell to open from the run dialog!)


The used the following powershell command to mount the ISO (as I couldn’t get Explorer to run!)

Mount-DiskImage -ImagePath “C:\ISO\Windows10.iso”


and then used the same Powershell window to launch setup.exe


After clicking through the first couple of screens I was happy to see the second tick on this screen

“Keep personal files and apps”


This meant it had detected the existing install and was going to upgrade Windows, or at least attempt to, in it’s current state.

A short while later it finished, the computer rebooted and everything was working fine!

In the early days of Windows this was a called a in-place upgrade or a repair install. I haven’t used this for a long time, I wasn’t even sure you could still do it but I’m glad it worked here.

Nothing too ground breaking going here! Just wanted to document what had happened in case I need to point anyone else at it Smile

** UPDATE – 23rd July **

So the Monday after I posted this I had the exact same thing happen on a clients PC. Had to go to site. Not much I could do remotely. 

I followed the same steps and the installer got to 98% and just sat there for ages. 

Eventually gave up and powered the PC off and it was in exactly the same state as when I’d started. 

As part of the research for the first time this happened I saw some mentions about Trend Micro anti-virus. This PC was using that so I stopped and disabled the ntrtscan and the tmlisten services and ran the setup again. All went through fine the second time. I re-enabled those services when I’d finished and all was ok. 

It’s possible the anti-virus had nothing to do with it and the second attempt succeeded. But it’s something else to bear in mind if I come across this again as my PC had Trend too, one was the hosted service and one was the on-premises version. They are effectively the same product underneath though.  

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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