Software

Installing the Windows 10 April 2018 Update could wipe your entire desktop

User forums have been flooded with calls for help after recently updated PCs are rendered useless.

The Windows 10 April Update is causing more stress for users, with many claiming their PCs were wiped clean after they hit OK on the update prompt.

Windows message boards were bombarded with complaints after users found that the "restart and install" prompt for the Windows 10 update led to a blank screen with a message saying:

C:\WINDOWS\system32\config\systemprofile\Desktop is unavailable. If the location is on this PC, make sure the device or drive is connected or the disc is inserted, and then try again. If the location is on a network, make sure you're connected to the network or internet, and then try again. If the location still can't be found, it might have been moved or deleted.

The screen has no icons and a few users were only able to remedy the problem with the help of another PC, a luxury many do not have access to.

With the help of Durham-based repair shop Computer Cellar, The Register traced the majority of user problems back to Avast Antivirus.

SEE: Windows 10 spotlight: Prepare, repair, and recover (Tech Pro Research)

"A couple of outliers claimed to be using AVG (which is owned by Avast), and one has claimed to be using McAfee. We are of the belief that Avast is to blame - this problem has only occurred on systems that attempted the 1803 upgrade in the last two days," Computer Cellar wrote in a Reddit thread helping those struggling with the problem. "This infers that a very recent update to Avast is interfering with the upgrade process. It appears to be damaging read/write permissions on the problem computers."

Their step-by-step guide takes users through remedies and suggests deleting Avast. Windows has not responded to furor over the problem, which started on Sunday, but Avast released a statement denying any involvement in the issue.

"We have tested this and couldn't identify any problems affecting Avast Antivirus consumer users specifically. Online user comments show that many are unfortunately experiencing problems updating to Windows 10 '1803'," Avast told the Register. "We cannot rule out that a small number of Avast users may be having difficulties updating, too, but we don't see any indications that this is caused by Avast."

Windows has had problems with security software that calls to restricted parts of the Windows OS before, battling Kaspersky in August over third party programs that they deleted during updates. Kaspersky ended up acquiescing and removed the programs.

The Windows 10 update is causing a plethora of issues for users. In May 2018, Microsoft Surface users said they had issues with the device following the Windows 10 update. The all-in-one desktop Surface Studio and 2017 Surface Pro models repeatedly froze and disconnected from keyboards and mouses after the update.

The blank desktop issue has reached users across the world but does not appear to have affected a large number of users, according to the forums. If you have already installed the Windows 10 update and had no problems, you don't have to worry about the issue.

Computer Cellar created a dedicated webpage for anyone looking for help with the issue, and wrote, "you will need an hour or two of free time, two flash drives (one must be at least 8GB in size), and access to a functioning computer."

The big takeaways for tech leaders:
  • If you have Avast Antivirus, it may be prudent to delete it before installing the new Windows 10 update, as many users have reported losing access to all of their files after the installation.
  • If you have been affected by the issue, computer repair shops have released lists of steps you can take to restore your desktop and get your files back.

Also see

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Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

About Jonathan Greig

Jonathan Greig is a freelance journalist based in New York City. He recently returned to the United States after reporting from South Africa, Jordan, and Cambodia since 2013.

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