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Will Upgrading to Windows 11 Delete My Files?

Will Upgrading to Windows 11 Delete My Files?

Are you considering upgrading your Windows 10 to Windows 11, but worried about the possibility of losing your personal files during the process? As someone who’s gone through the upgrade myself, I can share invaluable insights on this matter. First things first, it’s crucial to appreciate that Microsoft has designed the upgrade process to be as seamless and non-disruptive as possible. However, it’s always important to take necessary precautions. In this article, we’ll delve into various methods I’ve used to ensure that upgrading to Windows 11 doesn’t lead to data loss, assuring you can transition to the new operating system with peace of mind.


Common Scenarios:

Preparing for the Upgrade 🛠

  • Understanding the system requirements and compatibility for Windows 11 is crucial. Ensuring your device is eligible for the upgrade is the first step.
  • Evaluating the importance of your files and determining if you have a reliable backup solution in place.
  • Making a complete backup of all your important documents, pictures, and other personal data to a separate storage device or cloud service before starting the upgrade process.
  • Checking for updates to your current Windows 10 installation and closing unnecessary applications to ensure a smooth upgrade.

During the Upgrade Process 🔄

  • Choosing the right upgrade options, such as ‘Keep personal files and apps,’ to ensure that your files remain intact.
  • Monitoring the upgrade progress and noting any error messages or issues that may arise during the installation.
  • Understanding that during the upgrade, the system may restart several times – this is normal and part of the process.

Post-Upgrade Checkpoint 🏁

  • Verifying that all files and applications are present and functioning as expected after the upgrade is complete.
  • Checking for any missing files or settings and knowing how to retrieve them if necessary.
  • Updating drivers and software to ensure full compatibility with Windows 11.

Step-by-Step Guide. Does Updating To Windows 11 Delete Files:

Method 1: Utilizing Windows Update 😊

  • Open ‘Settings’ on your Windows 10 device and go to ‘Update & Security.’
  • Click on ‘Windows Update’ and select ‘Check for updates.’
  • If Windows 11 is available for your device, you will see the option to download and install. Click ‘Download’ to start the process.
  • Ensure you select ‘Keep personal files and apps’ when prompted.

Note: This method requires a stable internet connection and may take some time depending on your connection speed and system performance.

Conclusion: Upgrading through Windows Update is one of the most straightforward methods and is generally least likely to result in data loss.

Method 2: Using the Installation Assistant 🧑

  • Download the Windows 11 Installation Assistant from Microsoft’s official website.
  • Run the tool and follow the on-screen instructions to start the upgrade process.
  • Similar to the Windows Update option, ensure you choose ‘Keep personal files and apps’ during the upgrade.

Note: The Installation Assistant is ideal for manually initiating the upgrade process when automatic updates are not working as expected.

Conclusion: This method allows for greater control over the timing of the upgrade and provides a user-friendly interface for initiating the transition.

Method 3: Clean Installation with Media Creation Tool 🖥

  • Use the Media Creation Tool to create a Windows 11 installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file).
  • Perform a clean installation of Windows 11 by booting from the installation media and following the prompts to install.
  • Select ‘Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)’ and be sure NOT to format the drive where your personal files are stored.
  • After installation, move your old files from the ‘Windows.old’ folder to the desired location within your new Windows 11 environment.

Note: This method is generally more complex and requires careful attention to ensure you do not accidentally delete your data.

Conclusion: A clean installation is ideal for users who prefer a fresh start, but it demands more user involvement to safeguard personal files.

Method 4: Creating a Backup Before Upgrading 🛡

  • Use Windows 10’s built-in ‘Backup and Restore (Windows 7)’ feature in the Control Panel to create a full system backup on an external drive.
  • Alternatively, utilize a third-party backup solution like Acronis True Image or EaseUS Todo Backup.
  • Once the backup is complete, proceed with the upgrade using any of the methods mentioned above.
  • In the event of data loss, use the created backup to restore your files.

Note: Making a backup is highly recommended as a precautionary measure, regardless of the upgrade method chosen.

Conclusion: Having a backup ensures that even in the rare case of a problem during the upgrade, your personal files can be easily restored.

Method 5: Checking File Integrity Post-Upgrade 🔍

  • After upgrading, check for your files in the usual locations such as ‘Documents,’ ‘Pictures,’ and ‘Desktop.’
  • If you suspect any file corruption, use the ‘System File Checker’ tool by running ‘sfc /scannow’ in the Command Prompt (admin).
  • For missing files, search the ‘Windows.old’ folder which contains files from your previous installation.

Note: The ‘Windows.old’ folder is automatically deleted after 10 days, so it’s important to transfer any needed files before then.

Conclusion: Post-upgrade checks for file integrity are essential to ensure all your data is in place and accessible on Windows 11.


Precautions and Tips:

Secure Your Data First 🛡

  • Always back up your data to an external hard drive or a cloud backup service such as OneDrive before proceeding with any major update or system change.
  • Keep your backup in a safe and secure location to prevent data loss from potential theft or physical damage.

Stay Informed 📚

  • Regularly visit trusted tech news sources and forums such as How-To Geek or Windows Central for the latest information and advice on Windows updates and upgrades.
  • Stay up to date with Microsoft’s own support articles to ensure you are following the recommended procedures for upgrading.

Upgrading Wisely

While Microsoft’s upgrade process from Windows 10 to Windows 11 has been designed to be user-friendly, being proactive about protecting your data will spare you from potential headaches. It can’t be overstated how important it is to ensure that you meet all the necessary system requirements for Windows 11, which Microsoft has listed on their website. For instance, the TPM 2.0 requirement has been a topic of discussion in many tech circles.

Apart from software considerations, make sure you’re aware of the hardware compatibility. Some peripherals may not function as they should post-upgrade because of driver issues or outright incompatibility with Windows 11. Consult the manufacturer’s website or communities like the Windows 11 subreddit for advice on specific hardware.

Furthermore, diving into the world of vibrant communities online can provide you with first-hand experiences and wisdom from other users who have already made the jump to Windows 11. Engaging in platforms like Reddit’s Windows 11 community or Microsoft’s official forums will provide a wealth of knowledge on common pitfalls during the upgrade process and how to avoid them.

The bottom line is that, with the proper precautions and a well-informed approach, upgrading to Windows 11 can be a smooth and successful endeavor that brings a fresh and updated experience to your computing activities.


To conclude, upgrading to Windows 11 should not delete your files, especially if you follow the recommended upgrade paths and take precautions such as backing up your data before proceeding. By utilizing methods like Windows Update, the Installation Assistant, or even a clean install with proper backups, you can enjoy the benefits of the new operating system without the worry of losing your valuable data. As always, staying educated on the process and heeding advice from experienced users and official Microsoft guidelines will ensure a hassle-free transition to Windows 11.


No, upgrading to Windows 11 should not delete any of your personal files when performed correctly. It's designed to keep your data intact.

Yes, it's highly recommended to back up your data before upgrading to prevent data loss in case of any installation issues. You can use Microsoft's tools or third-party software.

If your files seem missing after the upgrade, check the Windows.old folder or use the Search feature. It's possible the files were simply moved during the update process.

The Windows 11 installer typically creates a 'Windows.old' folder that stores system files and can contain some personal data as backup from the older version.

To protect your files, back them up to an external drive or cloud storage before beginning the update to Windows 11.

You have 10 days to go back to Windows 10 without losing files using the recovery options in settings after the Windows 11 upgrade.

Most application settings should be retained, but it's a good idea to confirm the compatibility of specific applications before the upgrade.

While most programs should work fine after the update, some may require reinstallation or updates to be compatible with Windows 11.

User accounts and settings are typically preserved during the Windows 11 upgrade, allowing a seamless transition for users.

Data recovery tools or restoring from a previous backup are your options if you face data loss. It's crucial to have a reliable backup before upgrading. For more information on Windows updates, visit Microsoft Support.