Fix: ‘Setup was Unable to Use the Existing Partition’

Marian Cularea By: Marian Cularea
4 minute read

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I know that many of you tried to rollback to a previous Windows version at one point or another. In this case, we are going to talk a bit about rolling back from Windows 10 to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

In this article, your will learn what you can do in order to fix Windows 10 and get rid of the error message “Setup was unable to use the existing partition because it does not contain the required free space”.

Fix Setup was unable to use the existing partition because it does not contain the required free space (Windows 8, Windows 8.1)
Usually, the error message “Setup was unable to use the existing partition because it does not contain the required free space” appears when you have additional hard drivers connected to your device or the partition you are trying to install Windows 10 on is not completely blank.

FIX: Setup was unable to use the existing partition

  1. Unplug all peripherals
  2. Format the problematic partition
  3. Remove all partitions
  4. Create a new boot partition

First of all and most importantly, you will need to create a backup copy of your current files, folders and any other important documents to prevent any future issues before attempting the steps below.

1. Unplug all peripherals

  1. Unplug any USB sticks and peripherals that might be connected to your device.
  2. Reboot your Windows 10 operating system without plugging in any of them.
  3. Try running the setup process again and see if you still get the same message telling you that you do not have enough free space.

2. Format the problematic partition

As explained, after you made the necessary backup copy of your important data, you will need to completely format the partition you wish to install  Windows 10 on.

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  1. Turn on your Windows 10 device.
  2. After the device started, insert your Windows 10 Installation Media into the CD or DVD ROM.
  3. Reboot your Windows device with the installation media inserted.
  4. It will ask you to press any key to boot from the CD or DVD.
  5. Follow the instructions and press any key on the keyboard to boot from the CD or DVD.
  6. In the first window that appears from the installation media, select your language.
  7. After you are done, click on the “Next” button.
  8. Select the “Install Windows” button.
  9. In the “Enter the product key to activate Windows” window, type the Windows 10 product key.
  10. The next page will be “Please read the license terms” and you simply need to check the “I accept the license terms” box and then hit Next.
  11. The system will now ask you which type of installation you prefer.
  12. Click on the “Custom” button.
  13. The “Where do you want to install Windows?” window will now appear on the screen. Select the “Drive options (advanced)” feature.
  14. Select the partition where you want to install Windows 10.
  15. Click on the “Format” feature and keep following the on-screen instructions.
  16. After you are done, select the “Next” button.
  17. Follow the on-screen instructions and finish your Windows 10 install process.
  18. Reboot your device once more and you are done.

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You can also use a dedicated software to format your partition. For more information on the best tools that can help you quickly format your computer partitions, check out this guide.

3. Remove all partitions

Some users confirmed they quickly solved this problem by removing all partitions on the drive and unplugging the USB drive.

  1. So, open the partition selection screen > disconnect the USB drive > select Next
  2. The error message “Windows is unable to install to the selected location” should appear on the screen.
  3. Now, simply plug your USB drive back in and click Refresh and then Next.
  4. The process should resume.

4. Create a new boot partition

If nothing worked, try creating a new boot partition manually. Although this method may seem a bit complicated, follow the instruction below and you should be able to solve the problem in just a few minutes.

  1. When the setup error pop-up appear on the screen, go to Start and enter diskpart.exe and press enter.
  2. In the diskpart window, type the follow commands:
    • list disk – – this will list all the disks available on your computerlist disk command
    • select disk=0 — keep in mind that disk 0 is your destination drive and all data stored on this drive will be deleted
    • create partition primary size=x  — Replace ‘x’ with the actual  size of new partition.
    • select partition=1
    • active
    • format fs=ntfs quick
    • assign
    • exit
  3. Open your USB flash drive > copy the files from your USB drive to your C:
  4. Run the following commands to make your C: drive bootable:
    • bootsect /nt60 c:
    • bootsect /nt60 c: /mbr
  5. You can now remove the USB drive from your PC
  6. Restart your machine and go to Windows Setup > click on the “Install Now” option.

That’s it, the error message “Setup was unable to use the existing partition because it does not contain the required free space” should no longer appear on the screen.

If you need additional help, you can use the comments section below and we will help you further as soon as possible.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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For various PC problems, we recommend this tool.

This software will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Fix PC issues now in 3 easy steps:

  1. Download this PC Repair Tool rated "Excellent" on TrustPilot.com.
  2. Click “Start Scan” to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
  3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues with Patented Technologies (requires upgrade).

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