Perform a Feature Update of Windows Server

A Feature Update, also known as an in-place upgrade, allows you to go from an older operating system to a newer one while keeping your settings, server roles, and data intact. This article teaches you how to move to a later version of Windows Server by using a Feature Update.



Before you start upgrading, fulfill the following prerequisites:

  • Determine which version of Windows Server to update to.
  • Make sure you have a valid product key and activation method. Keys and methods may vary depending on the distribution channel you received Windows Server media from, for example a Commercial Licensing program, Retail, or Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).
  • You'll need to have the setup media for the version of Windows Server that you want to upgrade to. Setup media for the target version of Windows Server can be obtained from OEM, Retail, Visual Studio Subscriptions, and the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) channels.
  • Have a location to store files away from your computer, such as a USB flash drive or network location.
  • Review Upgrade and migrate roles and features in Windows Server.
  • Review Microsoft server applications compatibility.
  • Review any third-party application vendor support requirements.
  • Make sure your computer:
  • Perform a full backup of your computer. This includes the operating system, apps, data, and any virtual machines (VMs) running on the server. You can use Windows Server Backup or a third-party backup solution.


Collect diagnostic information

We recommend that you collect some information from your devices for diagnostic and troubleshooting purposes in case the Feature Update is unsuccessful. We also recommend you store the information somewhere you can get to even if you can't access your device.

To collect your information:

  1. Open an elevated PowerShell prompt, make a note of your current directory, and run the following commands.

    Get-ComputerInfo -Property WindowsBuildLabEx,WindowsEditionID | Out-File -FilePath .\computerinfo.txt
    systeminfo.exe | Out-File -FilePath systeminfo.txt
    ipconfig /all | Out-File -FilePath ipconfig.txt


    Get-ComputerInfo requires PowerShell 5.1 or later. If your Windows Server version doesn't include Powershell, you can find this information in the registry. Open Registry Editor, go to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion key, and then copy and paste the Windows Server BuildLabEx and EditionID values.

  2. Using File Explorer, navigate to the directory you noted down, and copy the files to a USB flash drive or network location off of your computer.

After you've collected all of your Windows Server-related information, we recommend that you back up your server operating system, apps, and VMs. You must also shut down, quick migrate, or live migrate any VMs currently running on the server. You can't have any VMs running during the Feature Update.

Perform the Feature Update

Now that you've completed your prerequisites and collected diagnostic information, you're ready to perform the Feature Update. In this section, you use Windows Server Setup to select the settings for the Feature Update. Windows Server Setup uses these settings to update your version of Windows Server, during which time your computer restarts several times.

To perform the Feature Update:

  1. Using File Explorer, navigate to the Windows Server Setup media. Then open setup.exe. For example, if you're using removal media the file path might be D:\setup.exe.


    Depending on your security settings, User Account Control may prompt you to allow setup to make changes to your device. If you're happy to continue, select Yes.

  2. By default, setup automatically downloads updates for the installation. If you're okay with the default settings, select Next to continue.

    If you don't want Setup to automatically download updates, select Change how Setup downloads updates, choose the option appropriate to your environment, and then select Next.

  3. If prompted, enter your product key and then select Next.

  4. Select the edition of Windows Server you want to install and then select Next.

  5. Review the applicable notices and license terms. If you agree to the terms, select Accept.

  6. Select Keep personal files and apps to choose to do an Feature Update, and then select Next.

  7. After Setup finishes analyzing your device, it displays the Ready to install screen. To continue the Feature Update, select Install.

The Feature Update starts, and you should see a progress bar. After the Feature Update finishes, your server restarts.

Checking if your Feature Update was successful

After the Feature Update to Windows Server is done, you must make sure the Feature Update was successful.

To make sure your Feature Update was successful:

  1. Open an elevated PowerShell prompt and run the following command to verify that the version and edition matches the media and values you selected during setup.

    Get-ComputerInfo -Property WindowsProductName
  2. Make sure all of your applications are running and that your client connections to the applications are successful.

If your computer isn't working as expected after the Feature Update, you can contact Microsoft Support for technical assistance.

Next steps

The following articles can help you prepare for and use your new Windows Server version:

If you'd like to learn more about deploying and post-installation configuration and activation options, check out the Windows Server deployment, configuration, and administration learning path.