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Why is Windows 11 taking so long to install?

Installing a new operating system on your computer can be an exciting but lengthy process. With the release of Windows 11 in late 2021, many users have been eager to upgrade from Windows 10. However, some have found that the Windows 11 installation process takes much longer than expected.

What are the system requirements for Windows 11?

To understand why installing Windows 11 takes time, it helps to first look at the system requirements. Windows 11 has stricter hardware requirements than previous Windows versions. Your computer must have:

  • A 1 GHz or faster 64-bit processor with at least two cores
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 64 GB storage
  • Secure Boot enabled in UEFI firmware settings
  • TPM 2.0 chip
  • DirectX 12 compatible graphics card
  • High resolution display (720p or greater)
  • Internet connectivity and Microsoft account

Many older machines do not meet these specifications. Upgrading hardware like RAM or enabling UEFI and TPM can take time prior to installing Windows 11.

Downloading the Windows 11 installer

After ensuring your system meets the requirements, the next step is downloading the Windows 11 installation media. This can be a multi-gigabyte download depending on your internet connection speed. The Windows 11 ISO file is around 5 GB. Downloading files of this size can take:

  • 15-30 minutes on a 50 Mbps connection
  • 30-60 minutes on a 25 Mbps connection
  • 2+ hours on a 10 Mbps connection

If you have a slower broadband connection, it may take even longer. Patience is key when downloading large installation files.

Creating installation media

Once downloaded, the Windows 11 ISO file needs to be written to a bootable USB drive or DVD. Creating installation media adds more time to the process. Writing 5GB to a USB flash drive can take 5-15 minutes depending on the drive speed. For example:

Media Type Write Speed Estimated Time
USB 2.0 flash drive 15-30 MB/s 15-20 minutes
USB 3.0 flash drive 100-200 MB/s 5-10 minutes
DVD 10-15 MB/s 60+ minutes

As you can see, USB 3.0 drives provide much faster write speeds. But any media will need some time to write a multi-gigabyte OS image.

Backing up your files and settings

Before installing a new OS, it’s wise to back up your data in case anything goes wrong. Completely backing up a hard drive can take hours or more depending on used disk space and the backup destination. For example:

  • 100 GB hard drive to USB 2.0 drive = 2+ hours
  • 500 GB hard drive to USB 3.0 drive = 1-3 hours
  • 1 TB hard drive to external HDD = 4-8 hours

Many users have hundreds of gigabytes or multiple terabytes of data to backup. So factor in significant pre-install time for complete system backups.

Installing Windows 11 cleanly

Once you boot from the installation media, the Windows 11 setup program still needs time to do its job. A clean OS install generally follows these steps:

  1. Boot to the installer and choose your language
  2. Accept the license agreement
  3. Select custom install or delete existing partitions
  4. Create new Windows partitions on the disk
  5. Format partitions and extract Windows files
  6. 1st boot and setup

Formatting, partitioning, and extracting files depend on your disk speed. But the entire process can easily take 1-2 hours for a clean install. Upgrading from Windows 10 takes less time but still requires 30-90 minutes typically.

Installing apps, drivers, and updates

Once Windows 11 finishes setup, there’s still more work to do. Installing your applications, drivers, and Windows Updates can all add hours to the process. Some additional post-install tasks and approximate times include:

  • Installing apps like web browsers, productivity software, games, etc. – 1-2 hours
  • Updating drivers and firmware – 30-60 minutes
  • Downloading and installing Windows Updates – 1-3 hours
  • Restoring data backups – 1-5+ hours

Why installing an OS takes so long

Looking at the entire Windows 11 installation process, it’s easy to see why it can take many hours:

  • Downloading multi-gigabyte files
  • Creating bootable installation media
  • Backing up local data
  • Booting to installer and performing setup
  • Configuring apps, drivers, and updates

Compared to installing a single app or game, preparing an entire operating system requires much more work. From start to finish, a typical Windows 11 install can easily exceed 6-10 hours in total.

Tips for reducing installation time

If you want to speed up the Windows 11 installation process, here are some tips:

  • Use Internet with faster download speeds
  • Choose USB 3.0 media for the installer
  • Consider a selective backup of only important files
  • Use solid state drive storage for quicker formatting
  • Avoid installing too many apps initially
  • Enable automatic driver downloads
  • Turn off unnecessary startup programs

With optimal conditions, you may be able to perform a Windows 11 install in 3-4 hours. But for most users, planning 6 hours or more ensures you won’t feel rushed during the process.

Be patient and prepare accordingly

Installing a major operating system upgrade is not a quick task. But with the right expectations and preparation, you can ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. Understand that downloading, media creation, setup, updates, and configuration will require significant time. Have patience, take breaks periodically, and your system will soon be running the latest Windows version.


Windows 11 installation times can stretch to 6 hours or longer due to:

  • Multi-gigabyte downloads and media creation
  • Backing up local data beforehand
  • Clean install process of formatting, partitioning, and setup
  • Installing apps, drivers, and Windows Updates

With proper computer specs, fast internet, USB 3.0 media, selective backups, and SSD storage, you may reduce install time to 3-4 hours. But be prepared for a lengthy wait to complete the full upgrade process.

Overall, focus on preparation over speed. Follow installation steps properly and avoid interruptions. Embrace the downtime during major upgrades as an opportunity to optimize your new system. With reasonable expectations, patience, and planning, Windows 11 will be running smoothly on your device before you know it.