How to fix “Windows may be installed in an unsupported directory” error

Installing Windows is a very simple process and usually has no problems. However, sometimes you may encounter errors that may interfere with the installation process. One such error that puzzles users is the “Windows may be installed in an unsupported directory” error.


Unlike other Windows installation errors, this appears when the Windows application folder is specified incorrectly or when it is not present in its default location. In this guide, we will see all the fixes that you can try if the system shows this error.


What causes the “Windows may be installed in an unsupported directory” error?

As mentioned above, the error message mainly appears when the Windows application folder is specified incorrectly or when you have changed its location. But there are several other reasons that can be responsible for the cause. Let’s check them first before diving into the fixes.

  1. You may encounter this error during the Windows installation process if you have misconfigured registry settings.
  2. Third-party antivirus programs can interfere with the installation process and cause the problem.
  3. The unsupported directory error can also appear if you try to use a corrupted or hacked Windows ISO file.

Now check out all functional fixes to get rid of the error message.

1. Use Windows Update Troubleshooter

The Windows Update Troubleshooter is a built-in utility that diagnoses and fixes installation and update issues. You can run the Windows Update Troubleshooter by doing the following:

  1. press the To win key to open the The start menu.
  2. In the search bar, type Troubleshoot settings and press Enter.
  3. Choose the Other convenience stores option.
  4. Locate Windows Update and click on the To run button associated with it. The utility will start scanning your device now.
  5. After the scan is complete, the troubleshooter will show you the result. If any issues are found, it will present you with potential solutions. In this case, click on the Apply this hotfix button to continue.

You can also try other Windows utilities to find the culprits of the installation problem and fix them without too much user intervention. One of the most useful Windows diagnostic tools is System File Checker, which will detect and repair corrupt system files.

2. Change the location of the Users folder

When Windows installs on a PC, it tries to back up the Users folders it finds on your PC. If you changed the location of the Users folder, it triggers Windows and gives you this error message.

In this situation, you will need to move the Users folder back to its original location. To do this, follow the steps below.

  1. Open File Explorer and navigate to where you moved the Users folder.
  2. Right-click on the Users folder and choose To cut from the context menu.
  3. Open the root directory of your operating system drive and press Ctrl+V keyboard shortcuts to paste the folder.

That’s it. Try installing Windows again and check if you still have the problem.

3. Edit the Windows registry to resolve the error

The next solution to try is to make changes to the registry editor. The installation process will fail if the installation wizard fails to locate the Windows program directories. This mainly happens when the Program Files folder has been moved to an unidentified location.

You will need to move the Program Files folder to its default location to fix the problem. Here’s how:

Before continuing, don’t forget to back up the registry to have a restore point in case something goes wrong.

  1. Open the Run dialog box, type Regeditand press Enter.
  2. In Registry Editor, click on the address bar, paste the following location, and press Enter.
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersion
  3. When you are at the location, locate and double click on ProgramFilesDir in the right pane of the screen.
  4. Modified Value data at Operating System Drive:Program Files. In my case it is C:Program Files.
  5. Click on OKAY to save changes.

Now reboot the system and check if the issue still occurs.

4. Change Windows Update components startup type

Whether you are updating or reinstalling Windows, both processes depend on Windows Update components. Therefore, it is a good idea to double-check that these components are working properly.

To do this, you need to change their startup types to automatique. You can do this by following the instructions below.

  1. Open the Run dialog box, type services, and press Enter.
  2. Locate and double-click Windows Update.
  3. Change the Start type at Automatique.
  4. Click on Apply > OKAY.

Then repeat the above steps with these services: Background Intelligent Transfer Service, Cryptographic servicesand TrustInstaller.

5 . Temporarily disable your antivirus program

Sometimes an overzealous antivirus program can interfere with the installation process and cause this error. The solution, in this case, is to temporarily disable the antivirus program.

You can usually right-click the app’s icon in the system tray and choose to disable it from the context menu. If you use Microsoft Defender as your security program, see our guide on disabling Defender in Windows.

6. Download an ISO file from Microsoft official website

If you are trying to install Windows using an ISO file, make sure you have downloaded it from the official Microsoft website. Many third-party websites offer Windows ISO files, but most of them are either corrupted or cause problems during installation.

So, download the correct Windows ISO from Microsoft and try using that file to complete the installation instead.

7. Reset Windows Update Components

If you are still having the problem, there is probably a corruption in Windows Update components that is causing you grief. To resolve this, you will need to reset Windows Update components:

  1. Open the Start menu, type CMD and Execute as administrator from the right pane.
  2. Type the following command and press Enter. This will stop all components of Windows Update.
    net stop wuauserv
    net stop cryptSvc
    net stop bits
    net stop msiserver
  3. Type the following command and press Enter. This will reset the Distributing software and catroot2 case.
    ren C:WindowsSoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.old
    ren C:WindowsSystem32catroot2 Catroot2.old
  4. To restart all components of Windows Update, type the following command and press Enter.
    net start wuauserv
    net start cryptSvc
    net start bits
    net start msiserver

Reinstall Windows without any problems

We hope the above solutions helped to fix “Windows may be installed in an unsupported directory” error. But in the worst case, if the problem persists, consider resetting Windows.

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