Windows 10 Installation Too Slow?

Despite Windows 11 being around, its predecessor, Windows 10, remains an immensely popular OS. It’s easy to navigate and supports almost any application out there. However, if you’re trying to install Windows 10, you find the installation process to be unbearably slow.

1. Make sure your computer has the minimum hardware requirements

A computer with components to illustrate minimum requirements.

Since you’re already installing Windows 10 via boot media, I’ll assume you know the basics of how to do that.

If you’re currently on the installation screen and you’re stuck, manually reboot your PC and load up the BIOS as you did before.

Set your OS drive as the primary boot media. Having access to your computer will be helpful in error checking. 

Once we’re done with the error checking (and fixing), you can begin the installation process anew, and hopefully, this time, it won’t take longer than it should.

Right off the bat, we want to ensure that your computer has the minimum requirements for Windows 10.

Don’t worry, though. Windows 10 isn’t that resource-intensive, so even computers that are quite a few years old have a good chance of being compatible with it.

To check the specs of your hardware, type System Information in the search box.

Here are the minimum requirements for Windows 10, as stated by Microsoft.

  • A processor with a clock speed of 1 gigahertz (GHz).
  • One gigabyte of RAM for Windows 10 32-bit and 2 gigabyte of RAM for Windows 10 64-bit.
  • A 32 GB hard disc.
  • DirectX 9 compatible graphics card with WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model) 1.0 or above.
  • An 800×600 resolution display.

As you can see, today’s standards make these requirements very lenient. If you have an outdated component that doesn’t meet these requirements, you can still try and proceed with the installation. 

However, it may be what’s preventing Windows from installing properly.

For example, processors slower than one gigahertz will take ages to install Windows 10 onto a storage medium simply because of their lack of power.

Too little RAM and your PC will have trouble storing data for immediate transfer, causing lag or, worse yet, failed installations.

I recommend upgrading your PC if you don’t meet the minimum requirements.

Upgrading individual components to their modern entry-level counterparts is relatively inexpensive and allows you to do much more with your PC.

2. Use another installation medium

Let’s rule out the possibility that your system is out of date. What could be causing the slow installation?

Optical storage

If you’re using an outdated storage device as your boot media or installation media, such as CDs or DVDs, that could be the issue.

The problem with these mediums is their low rate of data transfer. Most CDs and DVDs have data transfer rates of less than one MB (Megabyte) per second.

Given that the Windows 10 ISO size is approximately 6 GB, you’re in for a long wait. Almost 2 hours if we assume that your boot media’s transfer rate is the bottleneck during installation.

Also, discs are fragile and vulnerable to damage, such as scratches. Damage to the disc might result in it not working correctly or some data not being able to be read. 

If you use a boot media with corrupted data, you might go through the unfortunate experience of having your installation progress bar getting stuck mid-installation, which will be frustrating.

USB Flash storage

I recommend using a USB flash drive as your Windows 10 installation medium. They have a much faster data transfer rate, with USB 3.2 technology boasting an impressive 2.5 GB per second. 

If you pair that up with an NVMe SSD (more on that later), you can be done with the installation in mere minutes!

If you’re already using a USB and still facing difficulty, the problem might be your USB device. While USB drives are much more reliable than technology, they aren’t foolproof. 

To ensure that your USB drive is entirely operational, you can try using it for data transfer on another PC. Pick a large file. One that’s at least a few hundred MBs.

We want to know the transfer speed, which a pop-up will show when you initiate the transfer from the USB drive to the computer.

As long as you see a constant transfer speed of above 10 MBs per second, we can rule out the possibility of it being faulty. You can skip to the next step in the list.

If you find that the USB drive still doesn’t operate correctly when plugged into another PC, we have our culprit.

There’s no very practical DIY method for fixing a faulty USB. However, you can take it to your local hardware repair store to see if it can be fixed or get a new one altogether. 

If you get a new USB, you must download the Windows 10 ISO onto it to use it as your medium for installation.

3. Check your USB port for damage

The next step on our list is to check that the USB port, the port where you plug in your USB, is working.

The first is a visual inspection. If the socket inside is broken or in poor condition, chances are it’s slowing down your installation.

If it’s filled with dirt and grime, you can use a can of compressed air for cleaning. Afterward, turn your computer off and plug the USB drive in and out of the USB port a few times to help improve the chances for better contact.

Next, try plugging some other devices into the same USB port. A mouse and a keyboard, for example.

If the USB port is faulty, the red LED light on your mouse will flicker, and both components won’t operate properly.

The more professional way to check a USB port is with a dedicated USB port testing tool.

If your USB port works fine, you can skip to the next step.

Unfortunately, you can’t fix faulty USB ports at home without the right equipment. However, since there are multiple USB ports on most laptops and computers, you can use one that works.

If other components occupy all your USB ports, you can fix the damaged port or purchase a neat device called a USB hub.

This device frees up your occupied USB ports while improving cable management and cleaning your workspace. 

4. Make sure you have enough storage space for Windows 10

The minimum amount of space you need for Windows 10 varies slightly based on the version you install, but it’s typically around 16 GB of free space on your chosen drive.

Microsoft recommends having at least 20 GB of free storage space before installing Windows 10 64-bit. I would dedicate at least 30 GB of storage space to run well.

If you fall short of the 20 GB threshold, you won’t be able to install Windows 10. Even if you did, it wouldn’t perform well, as some files might be missing.

Full drives, whether HDDs or SSDs, don’t perform well.

It’s recommended to leave at least 10 to 20% of storage space free on any drive so that you don’t run into performance issues.

5. Install Windows 10 to an SSD

If you’re here, we’ve established that your computer meets the minimum requirements, your chosen installation medium (preferably a USB) is operational, the USB port isn’t damaged, and you have sufficient storage space for Windows 10.

The next step is to make sure you’re installing Windows 10 onto an SSD (Solid State Drive) rather than an HDD (Hard Disc Drive).

It makes a considerable difference in how fast the installation takes place. 

Let me briefly explain the difference between SSD and HDD technology to bring everyone up to speed. SSDs and HDDs are your computer’s main non-volatile storage.

It’s where all the files on your computer are stored, including the Windows 10 operating system.

The main difference between the two technologies is their operation mechanism and data transfer speed (Read/Write).

HDDs rely on moving mechanical parts and are much slower in receiving and storing data than SSDs, which use magnetic properties for storage.

SSDs are several times faster than the much older HDDs. As a result, getting an SSD has numerous benefits.

Not only will your installation time be significantly reduced, but you’ll also have a smoother, more comfortable experience using Windows 10 once installed. 

A prevalent practice among computer users is to have a low-capacity SSD for the operating system and essential applications only.

A larger HDD is used to store files of lesser importance. This is a remarkably efficient use of both types of storage. 

Laptops and pre-built PCs often come with M.2 SSDs, which is an expansion card. However, an HDD may only be installed with an older system. 

In this case, you’re forced to install Windows on an HDD, which can take up to a few hours.

Getting an SSD inserted into the laptop is possible, but you’d be voiding the manufacturer warranty if it’s still active. 

You may also need to give up your existing HDD or CD/DVD drive (if your laptop has one) to make room for the SSD.

If you get an SSD or already have one, install the Windows files onto it instead of an HDD. You will find the difference remarkable.

A faulty drive

Whether you use an HDD or an SSD, installation shouldn’t take more than a few hours. But, if it does, your drive might be at fault.

Generally, both HDDs and SSDs are expected to last around five years, and modern SSDs now exceed five years.

The signs of a faulty HDD are explicit. A whirring noise, clicking, overheating, or noticeable vibrations.

Modern SSDs are less likely to fail or break because they have no moving parts.

There aren’t clear physical signs when they fail, but you will experience a considerable drop in reading/writing and data processing operations.

You can use a third-party app to monitor disc health for HDDs and SSDs. They can be found online and provide a percentage value for the current health of your disc.

6. Get professional help

If, despite following all of the steps above, your Windows 10 installation remains unreasonably slow or gets stuck midway, your case is likely exceptional and nuanced. Unfortunately, a simple DIY fix won’t be able to help.

At this point, we’ve gone through the most common causes of a slow Windows 10 installation and discussed the practical steps you can take to rectify whatever issue plagues your PC.

It would now be best to acquire some professional help.

There’s room for error in so many individual components within your PC. For example, the SATA cables, SATA ports, or something else on the motherboard might be faulty.

There may even be an issue with the power supply cables. Tampering with these components isn’t something I recommend unless you have some experience assembling and disassembling PCs.

It’s impossible to check everything at home, so you’ll need a professional to do it for you.

You can also contact Microsoft Support to get their input on your situation. Be specific with your case so they can best assist you.