Fix: ‘You can’t keep Windows settings personal files and apps’

By: Milan Stanojevic
7 minute read

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When upgrading to Windows 10, in most cases you’ll have the option to save your personal files and apps and move them to Windows 10. Unfortunately, some users reported “You can’t keep Windows settings, personal files and apps” message while performing Windows 10 upgrade. This can be a big problem, but there’s a way to fix it.

Fix You can’t keep Windows settings, personal files and apps message

You can’t keep Windows settings personal files and apps error message can prevent you from preserving your files while upgrading to a new version of Windows. This can be a big problem, but users also reported the following issues:

  • Keep personal files and apps greyed out – Many users reported that the option to Keep their personal files and apps is disabled while upgrading to new version of Windows 10. This can be a big problem, but you should be able to fix it using one of our solutions.
  • You can’t keep windows settings personal files and apps because your current version, unsupported directory, different language – There are many reasons that can prevent you from upgrading to a new version of Windows. In most cases, that your system language or locale.
  • You can’t keep Windows settings registry – This error can appear if you change the location of your Program Files or user account directory. However, you can fix this problem by making a couple of changes in your registry.

Solution 1 – Remove your antivirus

Sometimes the main cause for You can’t keep Windows settings personal files and apps error is your antivirus. Even though antivirus software is rather important, sometimes it can interfere with Windows and cause this problem to appear.

To fix the problem, it’s advised that you disable your antivirus completely and check if that solves the problem. If the issue still persists, you might be able to fix it simply by uninstalling your antivirus software. Several users reported that removing the antivirus software fixed the issue, so you might want to try that.

If removing the antivirus solves the problem, you might want to consider switching to a different antivirus in the future. There are many great antivirus solutions, but the best are BullGuard, Bitdefender, and Panda Antivirus. All these tools offer great security features and they also are fully compatible with all versions of Windows 10, so we encourage you to try them out.


Solution 2 – Check your system language

You might get “You can’t keep Windows settings, personal files and apps” message if your system language doesn’t match the language on Windows 10 ISO. To change the system language do the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + X and choose Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu.
    You can't keep windows settings personal files and apps different language
  2. When Command Prompt starts, enter the following:
    • DISM /online /get-intl
      cmd-dism-get-intl
  3. You should see your operating system language in Default system UI language section.
  4. Insert Windows 10 DVD and boot your computer from it.
  5. Choose the Repair option and navigate to Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command Prompt.
  6. When Command Prompt starts, enter the following and press Enter to run it:
    • DISM /image:C:\ /set-uilang:en-US
  7. This will set your system language to en-US and you’ll be able to keep your files when you upgrade to Windows 10. If en-US doesn’t work, you might have to set your language so it matches the language from Windows 10 ISO.

Solution 3 – Change system locale from Control Panel

To change system language from Windows itself, do the following:

  1. Open Control Panel and go to Clock, Language and Region section and choose Region.
    Keep personal files and apps greyed out
  2. Go to Administrative tab and click on Change system locale.
    Keep personal files and apps greyed out
  3. Set Current system locale to English (United States) and click OK to save changes.
    You can't keep windows settings personal files and apps because your current version
  4. Click Apply and OK in Region window.
  5. Restart your computer and try to upgrade to Windows 10 again.

Solution 4 – Download version of Windows 10 that matches your current system language

You can’t keep Windows settings, personal files and apps message appears during Windows 10 setup when language from your previous operating system doesn’t match the language on your Windows 10 ISO file. We showed you how to change your system language in order to install Windows 10, but what if you wish to keep your current system language?

If you don’t want to switch your system language to US English, you can simply download Windows 10 ISO with that uses the same language as your current operating system. To do that, just download Media Creation Tool and choose the desired language from the list of languages.


Solution 5 – Remove any additional non-English languages

If you can’t keep your files from previous version of Windows, perhaps you should try removing any other installed languages. After you’ve removed all additional languages besides English, try installing Windows 10 again. This might not be the best solution, but it works according to users, so you might want to try it out.


Solution 6 – Remove problematic applications

If you can’t upgrade to the latest version of Windows 10, the problem might be a third-party application that is installed on your PC.

It seems that this problem was caused by Java installation. To fix the problem, it’s advised to uninstall Java and try to perform the upgrade again. It’s worth mentioning that regular uninstall might not be able to remove Java completely. Sometimes certain leftover files and registry entries can still interfere with Windows causing this and many other problems to appear.


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 Patended Technologies (requires upgrade).

To fix the issue, it’s advised to completely remove the problematic application. There are several ways to do that, but the simplest one is to use a dedicated uninstaller. These applications are specially designed to completely remove any application from your PC, so we encourage you to try them out.

As for uninstallers, there are many great tools available, but the best are IOBit Uninstaller, Revo Uninstaller, and Ashampoo Uninstaller, so feel free to try any of them. Once you remove the problematic application, the issue should be resolved. Keep in mind that other applications can also cause this problem, so you’ll need to find these applications on your own and remove them.


Solution 7 – Update your drivers

Drivers are a crucial part of Windows, and without drivers you won’t be able to use your hardware properly. Speaking of drivers, several users reported that You can’t keep Windows settings personal files and apps error was caused by outdated drivers.

According to users, their graphics card driver was out of date, and that caused this problem to appear. To fix the issue, update your graphics card driver to the latest version and check if that solves the problem. If you don’t know how to properly update your graphics card driver, be sure to check our guide on how to update graphics card driver. Keep in mind that other drivers can also cause this problem, so be sure that all your drivers are up to date before you try to upgrade.

We strongly recommend TweakBit’s Driver Updater (approved by Microsoft and Norton) to automatically download all the outdated drivers on your PC. With this tool you will be safe from downloading and installing the wrong driver versions, which could seriously harm your system.

Disclaimer: some features of this tool are not free.


Solution 8 – Check your registry

According to users, you can sometimes encounter You can’t keep Windows settings personal files and apps message due to your registry settings. Several users reported that they changed the location of the Program Files directory, and that caused this issue to appear. However, you can fix the problem by doing the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter regedit. Press Enter or click OK.
    You can’t keep Windows settings registry
  2. In the left pane, navigate to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion key. In the right pane, locate ProgramFilesDir, Program FilesDir (x86), ProgramFilesPath and ProgramW6432Dir. Check the data values for these strings. If you changed the location of the Program Files directory, the values should look like X:\Program Files. To fix that, open each of these strings and change the drive letter to C.
    You can't keep windows settings personal files and apps unsupported directory

After making changes to your registry, try to upgrade your Windows again and check if the problem reappears.


Solution 9 Check the location of user account directory

If you’re trying to install a new version of Windows, you might encounter You can’t keep Windows settings personal files and apps error message. This error can appear if your user account directory is moved.

While installing a new version of Windows, your user account directory is needed in order to create a backup of your files. If this directory is moved or missing, you won’t be able to upgrade and you’ll encounter this problem. However, you can fix the issue simply by moving your user account directory to the C:\Users\ folder on your PC. After doing that, you should be able to upgrade without any problems.


Solution 10 – Change your product key or edition

Sometimes You can’t keep Windows settings personal files and apps error can appear if you’re trying to switch to a different version of Windows. Many users reported this problem while trying to switch from Home to Pro version of Windows. To fix this problem, you can perform an Easy Upgrade by doing the following:

  1. Open the Settings app. You can do that quickly by pressing Windows Key + I.
  2. When Settings app opens, go to System section.
    You can’t keep Windows settings registry
  3. Navigate to About section in the menu on the left. Now select Change product key or upgrade your edition of Windows.
    Keep personal files and apps greyed out
  4. Now enter the product key for the version of Windows you’re upgrading to.

This is a simple solution, but keep in mind that it works only if you’re upgrading to a different edition of Windows.

Personal files and folders are rather important, and if you’re getting “You can’t keep Windows settings, personal files and apps” during Windows 10 installation, make sure that you try some of our solutions.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2016 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


READ ALSO:

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 Patended Technologies (requires upgrade).

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