FIX: Windows setup could not install one or more boot-critical drivers

Aleksandar Ognjanovic
by Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Troubleshooting Expert
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windows setup could not install one or more boot-critical drivers

There’s only so many things which can go wrong when you try to install Windows 10. However, every single one of those scarce errors is usually quite hard to deal with. The “Windows setup could not install one or more boot-critical drivers” error appears immediately after you’ve loaded the installation files from the bootable drive. And it has either one simple, almost silly solution (take out the CD or DVD from the ROM) or you’ll need to get your hands dirty in order to resolve it. We hope the steps we enlisted below will help you out.

SOLVED: Windows 10 boot-critical driver issues

  1. Remove as much hardware as you can
  2. Create new installation media with the Media Creation Tool
  3. Try booting in the Legacy mode
  4. Fully format the system drive and try installing again

1: Remove as much hardware as you can

The first step is also the most efficient way to deal with this. Remove the disk from the DVD/CD – ROM and reboot your PC. Try to boot with the USB again and look for changes. This solved the majority of reported cases, and it’s as peculiar as one would expect.

The conflict between the two media drives particularly involves the disk with drivers in your DVD-ROM compartment. But the other disks might inflict the same error, as well.

On the other hand, if this isn’t the resolution for your problem and you’re still seeing the same error upon booting with the USB, there are additional steps to take. Have in mind that these require access to the hardware configuration, so you’ll need to open the PC case.

Once there, unplug the DVD-ROM completely. In addition, if you’re using multiple HDD/SSD drives, we suggest keeping plugged only the one where the Windows 10 installation is placed.

And, finally, unplug all peripheral devices. Ideally, only the bootable USB drive should stay plugged in. Of course, you’ll need the mouse and keyboard, so if you don’t have PS2 input devices, keep those, too.

2: Create new installation media with the Media Creation Tool

Now, this another quite common error users made. They extract the Windows 10 ISO file to USB and try to boot immediately. However, having the complete setup with all system installation files won’t suffice. You need to make your drive ‘bootable‘.

Now, you can do this with a few third-party tools, like Rufus or Yumi, but we still suggest sticking to Microsoft’s first-party tool called Media Creation Tool.

This tool does everything for you. It provides you with the latest available system image so you’ll have the latest major update (Windows 10 iteration) on your bootable drive. In addition, it allows ISO download or automatic creation of the bootable USB flash stick.

The only things you need to worry about are USB flash (6 GB of free space at least), bandwidth cap (if you have one), and access to the boot menu. Everything else is simple.

Follow these steps to create a new bootable installation media with the Media Creation Tool:

  1. Download the Media Creation Tool, here.
  2. Plug in the USB stick in the fastest port. It needs to have at least 6 GB of free storage space. Have in mind that the procedure will delete everything from the USB flash drive, so backup your data timely.
  3. Select the “Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC” option and click setup could not install one or more boot-critical drivers
  4. Choose Language and Architecture. Click setup could not install one or more boot-critical drivers
  5. Choose the “USB flash drive” setup could not install one or more boot-critical drivers
  6. Wait until the tool downloads the file and mounts them onto the USB.

3: Try booting in the Legacy mode

The usability of a bootable drive depends on a partitioning mode. If you’re using Legacy BIOS MBR (Master Boot Record) partitioning style (and that’s a likely scenario on Windows 7-era PCs), you won’t be able to install Windows 10 in a UEFI boot mode. Only in Legacy BIOS.

The only way to make it boot is to format your HDD to its successor, the GPT (GUID Partition Table) partitioning style and then boot in UEFI boot mode. Alternatively, you’ll need to enter BIOS/UEFI settings and switch to the Legacy BIOS mode.

We prefer the first option as the UEFI is newer and better of the two. However, since it leads to formatting the hard drive (and who wants that), the Legacy BIOS should be a better temporary solution. In order to change settings from UEFI to Legacy BIOS, you’ll need to access the BIOS/UEFI settings.

Here’s how to do that on Windows 10:

  1. Press Windows key + I to open Settings.
  2. Choose Update & Security.
  3. Select Recovery from the left pane.
  4. Under the Advanced startup, click Restart setup could not install one or more boot-critical drivers
  5. Choose Troubleshoot.
  6. Select Advanced options.
  7. Choose UEFI Firmware Settings and click Restart.
  8. In the UEFI settings menu, change the Boot Mode to Legacy and restart your PC.
  9. Try to boot from the USB again and hopefully the error won’t reappear.

4: Fully format the system drive and try installing again

In the end, if none of the steps worked out, we suggest fully formatting the hard drive and starting from a scratch. This can be done through the elevated Command Prompt. At least, it should be.

If you’re unable to access the disk drive when the installation files load from the bootable drive (pressing Shift + F10 should open Command Prompt), you can use a third-party formatting tool and nuke the HDD that way.

And when we say ”nuke” we mean “completely and permanently wipe everything”, without any way to restore your data. So we need you to backup all your data to an alternative storage and then and only then follow the steps we enlisted below.

Here’s how to format your HDD and retry the installation procedure:

  1. Download the DBAN ISO file, here.
  2. Download the Universal USB installer, here.
  3. Plug in the USB (the DBAN tool takes only 32 MB but backup your USB data as this will probably wipe it as well).
  4. Run the Universal USB installer and choose DBAN ISO from the drop-down setup could not install one or more boot-critical drivers
  5. After you have the bootable DBAN USB drive, restart your PC and boot with it.
  6. Once it boots, use the autonuke command to wipe everything.
  7. Restart your PC and boot with the bootable USB Windows 10 installation drive.

With that said, we can call it a wrap. If you have any questions or suggestions concerning the boot-critical driver‘s error prior to Windows 10 installation, feel free to tell us in the comments section below.


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