The Terrible Tale of Windows 10 Build 1809

Written by BradzTech on Feb 19, 2019

Windows 10 is an ever-changing operating system, with a constant stream of required updates that many users know all too well. Typically, Microsoft saves the major new features for a biannual "feature update". Windows version 1809 was supposed to be the feature update for October 2018. Given this fact, why did many users not receive the update until well into 2019? As it turns out, this particular update has quite a tale.

All your files are gone!

Although Microsoft wants to ensure users are always using the latest and greatest build of Windows 10, the company also wants to ensure its users are using a stable operating system. That's why the company not only tests the software internally, but they also allow members of the public to join the Windows Insider program and use the very latest version of Windows at all times to help improve it. In theory, if there are enough Windows Insiders, Microsoft can ensure all of its updates go smoothly by squashing any bugs before the release.

In practice, this vision has not yet become reality. Microsoft began pushing the update out on time in early October to a few select individuals. Some members of the unlucky early update batch were greeted with the carnage of a very serious bug. In some cases, they found all their personal files were permanently erased!

Microsoft was quick to stop offering the update. They later discovered the issue had to do with a feature called Known Folder Redirection. This feature allows users to store particular user folders, like Documents or Pictures, in a non-default location. Typically this is used in machines with a small SSD and large HDD to store the files on the slower but larger HDD. It's a quite useful feature if you're in this situation, which can be found by right-clicking one of those user folders, choosing Properties, and then location. The issue is that some users set this up and did not remove the files from the original folder location. The oversight in the update caused the original folder to be automatically deleted.

It's an incredibly serious glitch for a legitimate update to accidentally delete files. Normally, something like this would be more expected from malicious ransomware! It's yet another reminder to always back up irreplaceable data.


Back to build 1809, Microsoft decided to shelve it from the general public until it was confident the update had undergone plenty of testing. It began to re-release the update again 38 days later, but this time it did not have consumers' PCs automatically update.

In mid-December, a new controversy broke out as users decoded the true meaning behind who would install Windows Updates. Microsoft would actually give users who clicked the "Check for Updates" button in Windows Update manually more aggressive, potentially unstable updates than those who did not and simply installed automatic updates. Since it would be logical to think the button simply ensures you are on the latest public version of the updates, some people were confused that Microsoft apparently marks these people as "seekers" that are willing to be sort of beta testers.

While I won't go into the details of how Microsoft marks its updates, it became clear that users who were affected by the awful file deletion glitch were ones who clicked the Check for Updates button in the first few days of October. Of course, these users were further outraged at Microsoft for considering them "risk-takers" just for wanting to ensure their computer was on the latest version.

Finally here

It's getting closer to time for the new biannual feature update in April 2019, and Microsoft has finally recently rolled out the 1809 Windows 10 update to the masses on automatic update, in theory. Even so, Microsoft continues to show caution, with some machines still having not automatically reported the update. It makes sense, seeing that the company is dealing with this critical data destruction glitch along with all of the normal glitches that pop up in a major new update.

About a month ago, seeing that I had my data backed up and wanted to try the new features, I used the Windows Update Assistant tool to override Windows Update which still did not want to download version 1809. It worked successfully, and I am now running the latest public Windows build, including its glorious new dark mode in Windows Explorer.

Windows 10 certainly can be troublesome when it comes to updates, and build 1809 was no exception. Hopefully, the drama is over for now... at least until the next update.

About BradzTech

Welcome! I'm BradzTech, a Computer Science student at Rochester Institute of Technology. I am passionate about computers and analyzing the latest happenings in the rapidly developing modern field of technology, specifically, using it to help people. I share my thoughts on Twitter and, occasionally, here on my blog. Learn more about me.