Logical Business Solutions Inc.

Acer Swift SF114-31-C5NK Windows 10 update

A young college student bought one of these notebooks with the assurance that it was her best option for school use. This laptop came with a 14″ LCD, 4Gb of RAM, good battery life, an acceptable keyboard and a 64 bit version of Widows 10 Home. Unfortunately, Acer only provided 32Gb eMMC storage, soldered into the main board on this model. There were no options to increase storage. Since the initial Windows installation and minimal applications occupied roughly 25Gb of this storage, the machine very quickly ended up with less than 4Gb of available storage space. She soon found that the machine, while speedy and light, eventually could not handle the constant stream of Windows updates. Several months ago the machine locked into a loop of trying to install updates and failing because of insufficient space. At this point the machine became useless for any reasonable work since the frequent popup messages about the system requiring updates, being out of date and no longer supported, were too disruptive.

According to the Microsoft Updater, it is possible to utilize a USB flash drive for additional storage  during the update process.  The program repeatedly failed to recognize several different flash drives, both new and reformatted, under different boot scenarios. Description of the feature and instructions on its use are minimal and even the Microsoft Support forums did not provide any helpful information. After several failed efforts to simply update Windows Defender, I set the machine aside with the intention of reloading it with one of the small footprint Ubuntu packages, and advised the owner that the machine should be considered a throw-away if the reload did not work out. This was a shame since the only issue was the inability to increase storage.

After a few weeks, I tried the update again before moving to wipe it completely. To my surprise, the update started and appeared to recognize the 16Gb USB flash drive plugged in for additional storage. The process completed and prompted for a reboot. After the system came up, the notifications indicated that another operating system update was available.  This update also completed without errors, but the entire process took roughly 48 hours to complete. The machine is now functional again, running with the latest build level of Windows 10.

There is no simple explanation as to why the update process finally recognized the flash drive. My feeling is that the machine would have been discarded in a typical repair scenario because of the initial cost versus time to ‘repair’. This incident underscores the need to research system and software purchases carefully and to understand the long-term technical implications. Budget considerations must be aligned with technical requirements and potential for growth, or one could easily end up in an endless and expensive purchase and discard loop.

Note that this model is no longer available from Acer. Other models in the series provide storage capacity updates.