For the most part, Windows updates happen silently in the background, only installing after a prompt or when you shut down your PC. However, there are occasions when the update system needs a helping hand. If your Windows update runs into an error, you aren’t alone. This setback has been a widespread issue for the OS since Microsoft dropped their quality assurance team and relied on users through preview builds, feedback, and more.
Perhaps your Windows 10 downloaded half of the update before deciding it doesn’t want to stay connected to the server. Other times, the OS fancies doing its own thing for a while, slowing your eagerly awaited update to a crawl. Other than those two situations, the OS may run into an installation bug or data problem that stops it in its tracks.
If Windows Update freezes or gets stuck, there are several steps to try. Here’s the process—in order of importance.
#1: Run Windows Update Troubleshooter
The first step is the safest way to resolve Windows 10 Update issues. The process will automatically scan for and detect problems within your system, which can take a few minutes to complete.
- Open the “Start menu” and click on “Settings.”
- Next, click on “Update & Security.”
- Then, click on “Troubleshoot” and then “Additional troubleshooters.”
- From there, choose “Windows Update” and then “Run the troubleshooter.”
The troubleshooter should hopefully clear up the problems causing Windows Update to get stuck.
#2: Delete Files in Software Distribution
If the troubleshooter does not resolve the update problem, it’s time to interact with your computer’s system settings. It shouldn’t cause any damage to your PC. You’ll only delete temporary Windows Update files, but it is recommended that you set up a System Restore point before going any further.
- Open the “Start menu,” then type “cmd” into the “Search box,” and then select “Command Prompt” and choose “Run as administrator.”
- Next, stop “Windows Update Service” and “Background Intelligent Transfer Service.” There are two commands you’ll need to type into the command prompt, one at a time. Press “Enter” after you type each one.
net stop wuauserv
net stop bits
3. Next, you’ll need to delete the files in the “C:/WindowsSoftwareDistribution” folder. Select all files, then press “Delete.” If you can’t delete the files because they’re in use, you’ll need to restart your PC. Turn off the two Windows Update services and then try to delete the files again.
4. Once the folder has been emptied, restart your computer or manually turn on the Windows Update services. To do this, bring up the command prompt (admin) and type:
net start wuauserv net start bits
5. Now, run “Windows Update,” and you’ll find that your PC needs to download several updates, which can take up to a few hours, depending on your system and connection.
Once the updates have been installed, Windows will schedule a restart time, although you can always restart immediately.
#3: Make a Quick-Fix Batch File
The following fix is a convenient way to execute several commands in one swoop. The script’s success level is subject to Windows changes through previous updates and the current condition of your OS. It may or may not work for you. Use it at your own risk!
The batch file (shown below) does the following, in exact order:
- Changes the attributes of “system 32catroot” folder and the files within it
- Stops the Windows Update Service (wuauserv), Cryptographic services (CryptServ), and Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS)
- Renames the “system 32catroot” folder to “system32catroot.old”
- Renames the temporary Windows Update files folder “WindowsSoftwareDistribution” to “WindowsSoftwareDistribution.old”
- Rename the “All UsersApplication DataMicrosoftNetworkDownloader” folder to “All UsersApplication DataMicrosoftNetworkDownloader.old”
- Restarts BITS.
- Restarts CryptSvc.
- Restarts wuauserv.
To run the batch file, copy the following script into notepad and save it to the Windows Desktop as “UpdateFix.bat” to make it easy to find and to delete it when done. Right-click the batch file and select “Run as Administrator.” Restart Windows after the script completes successfully.
@ECHO OFF echo This script is intended to stop Windows Update being COMPLETELY and UTTERLY rubbish echo. PAUSE echo. attrib -h -r -s %windir%system32catroot2 attrib -h -r -s %windir%system32catroot2*.* net stop wuauserv net stop CryptSvc net stop BITS ren %windir%system32catroot2 catroot2.old ren %windir%SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.old ren "%ALLUSERSPROFILE%application dataMicrosoftNetworkdownloader" downloader.old net Start BITS net start CryptSvc net start wuauserv echo. echo Windows Update should now work properly. Thanks Microsoft. echo. PAUSE
The script above allows Windows to create new update folders and data to eliminate file corruption or incompatibilities.
#4: Identify Windows 10 Update Error Codes and Fix The Reported Issues
If none of the above options fixed your Windows Update problem, it is time to decipher the codes to discover the cause of failure—hopefully! Most update issues return an error code that identifies what caused the update to fail. The following table below provides the most common Windows 10 Update error codes and the possible solutions to fix them.
|MEANING AND SOLUTION
|A file is damaged or missing that Windows 10 Update requires. Type “DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth” without quotes to repair system files, then try to update the OS again.
|A driver or program isn’t compatible with the upgrade (NOT update) to Windows 10 from Windows 7, 8, or 8.1. Back up your drivers and programs to preserve them, then uninstall the current graphics driver and let Windows switch to its default one. If that doesn’t work, try uninstalling other drivers. Also, ensure you have enough drive space for the upgrade.
|The upgrade process was interrupted by a manual restart, accidental shutoff, or user sign-out. Try updating again.
Scenario #1: The PC couldn’t connect to Windows Update servers. Disable the VPN (if applicable) and attempt to reinstall. Otherwise, try updating again when your internet connection is stable and reliable.
Scenario #2: There is a lack of free space in the System Reserved partition. Increase the partition’s size and try updating Windows again.
Error: We couldn’t complete the updates. Undoing changes. Don’t turn off your computer.
Error: Failure configuring Windows Updates. Reverting changes.
The PC failed to update for uncategorized or unknown issues. Any reasons not listed in specific error categories will produce one of these generic error messages. Review the update history to find the failed update and specific error code that triggered the problem. Resolve the issue, then try updating again.
|Error: The update isn’t applicable to your computer.
|The Windows system does not have all the required updates to perform the OS upgrade. Run Windows Update to ensure all applicable updates get installed, then try upgrading again.
|0xC1900208 – 0x4000C
|An incompatible app blocked or interfered with the update process. Remove the app or program and try updating Windows 10 again.
0xC1900200 – 0x20008
0xC1900202 – 0x20008
|The PC does not meet the minimum requirements to upgrade to Windows 10. Upgrade the PC hardware (if possible) or replace it.
0x80070070 – 0x50011
0x80070070 – 0x50012
0x80070070 – 0x60000
|The PC does not have enough space to install Windows 10 updates. Free up space on the OS partition and try again.
|There is a problem with the download or installation files in the update. No action is needed; the system will try again later.
|A previous update is still in the cleanup process, usually awaiting a restart. Try restarting Windows and then attempt to install the new update again. If it fails, try using the Disk Cleanup utility, restart the PC, then attempt to update again.
|The current drive does not support a specific disk operation. See detailed Windows 10 requirements to ensure the disk (partition or volume) can meet any of those applicable requirements. If not, replace the drive.
|Windows 10 Update cannot find a specific file, whether it is due to access rights, conflicting applications, or other plugged-in drives. Turn off any firewalls and close running applications. If that doesn’t work, try disconnecting all non-OS drives, rebooting the device, and trying to update again.
|A driver issue caused a problem during the installation of the update. Disconnect all unnecessary devices such as USB drives, cameras, etc., and disable any anti-malware and anti-virus services.
|Windows Update terminated unexpectedly due to an existing running process that interfered with operations. Perform a clean boot to eliminate any questionable processes and try to update again.
|A security service, application, or process caused Windows Update to terminate unexpectedly. Disable all security applications and services, and then try updating again.
|0xC1900101 – 0x20004
|Upgrading from Windows 7 or 8/8.1 has failed with an issue stating, “The installation failed in the safe_OS phase with an error during INSTALL_RECOVERY_ENVIRONMENT operation.” A bios incompatibility or SATA configuration usually causes the error. Try updating your bios, removing unnecessary SATA drives, unplugging all external USB drives, and disabling network devices in Windows 10 Device Manager (NOT by right-clicking elsewhere).
#5: Use System Restore
If your computer still isn’t responding when installing updates, you can run a System Restore. This action will revert your PC to an earlier point in time.
- To access System Restore, type “System Restore” into the “Search bar” and select “Create a restore point.”
- From “System Restore,” you can pick an appropriate point to revert to.
Once you’ve returned to an earlier restore point, try installing the updates again as usual.
#6: Use the Windows 10 Recovery Tool
If your Windows 10 device still isn’t updating or is still frozen on updating, then you’ll want to boot into the Windows 10 Recovery Tool and fix the drive or roll back to a previous restore point. If your device isn’t responding, then you’ll need to download this using another.
- If you haven’t already, start by downloading Windows Media Creation Tool, it’s also used for restoring/fixing your existing Windows OS.
- Next, plug in the USB with the recovery tool on it.
- Now, restart your device and then click either “F8“, “F10“, “F12“, or “Del” to enter the BIOS/UEFI, it varies based on the manufacturer.
- Next, look for “Boot” or “Boot Order” and click on it. Some BIOS keep it under “System.”
- Then, change the boot order so the Windows Media Creation Tool boots up first, you can usually just use the arrow keys to change the boot order.
- When the tool loads, select your language/preferences and click on “Next.”
- Now, select “Repair your computer” from the options.
- Then, start by trying to repair your disk with the sfc command, enter “sfc /scannow” without quotes and hit “Enter” in the command prompt.
- If that doesn’t work, you’ll want to use a previous restore point and roll back to it. Windows creates them by default when you download new programs, so you should have several to choose from
In closing, Windows 10 can sometimes run into problems when updating. Luckily, you know what to do now if that scenario happens. Start with the least complicated and permanent issue before resorting to previous restore points and more drastic solutions.
Do you know of any other ways to fix a Windows 10 update that’s stuck or frozen? Feel free to share it in the comments below.