Please insert the external storage/Can't use computer at all

When starting up my Windows 10 laptop computer I got a popup saying "Please insert the external storage media and press OK?". However when I press a key nothing happens. Non of the keys works and the mouse doesn't work. So I can't do anything with the computer. (I'm typing this on somebody else's computer.)

On starting up it says it is undoing changes. Then I get that message. And can't do anything.

This is following a Windows update that just ran. (Computer is on automatic updates.) Windows complained that there isn't enough storage on the computer. I deleted a lot of files. Unfortunately I didn't empty the recycle bin (big mistake, I guess) because I have an external hard drive with plenty of space on it. I clicked on "continue" with the restart, which it did, and now I have no computer. The message said something to the effect that it would take care of it.
What do I do? I've done some searching but it says do this or do that but I can't do anything on the computer. How can I get my computer working again? Is there a safe startup mode or something on Windows 10? Please help.

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Re: external storage medium shows it's a quite common happening on some small (32 GB HDD) laptops.

My suggestion would be to boot from the recovery drive you made and reset Windows. If you didn't make a recovery drive download the Windows 10 installer to a USB stick and do a fresh install. That might be something to do every 6 or 12 months if a new big upgrade is released. tells how to make that USB stick.
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Replacing windows

Thank you. So basically I need to reinstall Windows 10 from a flash drive? Do I have to pay for it? That's over $100, right? I purchased this computer used on Ebay. It was a corporate computer. Would I have a Windows key anywhere, you think? It's a good computer, Intel i7 with a SSD.

I have Backblaze backup. Would that be of any use?

What will the new install wipe out?

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Windows 10 keys are different.

If this PC ran W10 Pro you install pro and it activates. No more hunting for keys.

No, you don't have to have a Windows 10 key unless you change versions.

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Windows Media Download

I have started the Windows 10 Pro download to a USB 2.0 flashdrive. Did it ask for the version, Home / Pro?. It said something about using the defaults for "this PC". What's "this PC"? The PC I'm using which belongs to my brother is a Windows 7 Professional. I'm requesting Windows 10 so it should be okay. I wasn't sure if the PC I'm using has a 3.0 port so I bought a 2.0 flashdrive today. I know I should have checked before I went to the store. System Restore would still be easier but I guess if I could get to it I might not have a problem in the first place.

Thanks for staying with me.

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If you are making the stick with the MCK

(Media Creation Kit) that is a question and it depends if it's for the PC you are on or any other PC. For me I need to stick to work on other PCs so the answer is not "this PC."

When I boot it up to install it may ask me Home or Pro.

If I use the repair tools then it doesn't ask.

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"stick with the Mick"

Had a flashback of Crocodile Dundee.

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"He's got a knife."

Sue Charlton: He's got a knife.
Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee: [chuckling] That's not a knife. [draws a large Bowie knife] That's a knife.

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Re: reinstall Windows

It will only replace Windows if you tell it to keep your programs and files.
It will delete everything if you tell it to delete everything. Your choice.

But I'd try System Restore first. tells more. After reinstalling you might need to download and install drivers that Windows didn't yet install. The makers site has them. That's more work.

Good to see you have a good backup. Less good to see that you don't have a full understanding of how to use it.

And no, you don't have to buy anything. Activation is free and automatic.

Post was last edited on August 10, 2019 1:21 PM PDT

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System Restore

System Restore was the first thing I thought of but I have no mouse or keyboard functions. Is there any way to System Restore?

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Re: system restore
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Restore versus reinstall

I see. So I should attempt a "restore" first rather than an "install" as described in the link. Will do. The PC i'm restoring is Windows 10 Pro 64-bit.

The download to flashdrive is at 65% after running 12 hours or so. How much faster would USB 3.0 be?

What's a Media Creation Kit? This forum needs a "Reply All" feature or just chronologial posts. I'm very gratefull to everyone for their help.

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Re: install

Windows Media Creation Tool is the name used by Microsoft to identify the program you use to download the installer and make the bootable media. Proffitt usually calls it Kit in stead of tool.

Any download first goes to the hard disk. Then when that's at 100% it asks what to do with it, and you reply to copy it to the flashdrive. Apparently you have a very slow Internet connection or a very bad hard disk. Only you can now.

USB 2 speed is approximately 1.5 MB/second. So it's some 2500 seconds ( .75 hour) to copy the 4 GB installer to your flashdrive.

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Thanks for this.

The name of the tool changed at some point so my memory appears to be flashed with the old name. Time to update my memory cells.

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All I did was type Windows logo key + L and it came back

Well, I put that flashdrive in, started it up, and typed Windows logo key + L and, poof, the computer is working again. Just like I was using it last with most of the apps I was last using open just as they were. No restore, no reinstall needed.

I emptied the recycle bin.

But I soon got a message that my hard drive doesn't have enough space for Windows Update and click here to fix it. So I click and it asks me to attach external storage even though there is already over 1TB of available external storage already attached. So I put in that 32GB flashdrive I used for the recovery download which still has 25GB free for what it's worth. And then I disabled Windows Update.

Then a popup appears asking me to restart now, restart tonight. or pick a time. I click pick a time. The popup disappears and then nothing.

I think I should restart now myself but I'm a bit afraid. It's working perfectly.

The hard drive, which seems to be the original trigger for the problem, has 8.03GB free out of 118GB. My earlier deletion of several dozen documents apparently wasn't enough. I can't find where most of that 109.7GB is. The WINDOWS folder has 24.3GB, Users 1.62GB, Program Files (x86) 10.2 GB, Program Files 4.12GB. The rest of the folders which show on File Explorer are smaller.

And now I get another request for a restart. Choices: now, in an hour, and I forget the other one.

I'm shutting the computer down.

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Re: disk space

Things that generally are useful when controlling disk space used:
1. Disk cleanup wizard, including Advanced options
2. Disable and then enable System Restore; set the max space for System Restore to 5 GB or so
3. For finetuning download and run TreeSize Free from and see all that's used. One thing you'll easily note is data from programs you uninstalled left in Program Data folder, for example.

Post was last edited on August 12, 2019 12:58 AM PDT

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Repeated restart requests

I got TreeView and found some video files which I then deleted. Computer is working fine but I keep getting these restart requests.

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Starting new thread

Thanks all for the help so far. I am starting a new thread on the restart issue.

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