Windows Update Stuck? Here is What You Need to Do!

Windows Update Stuck? Here is What You Need to Do!

/ James Masterson

One of the most common problems many Microsoft Windows users face is Windows Update getting stuck while it is in progress.  Updates are important to ensure your system receives all the latest features and new security fixes.

The update frequency for the operating system is based on the features present and the magnitude of security risk. When it comes to Microsoft Windows Update, it is a smooth process that users have complete control over. In this article, we will take a look at the ways to fix a stuck Windows update.

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They can choose the specific updates they want and ignore the updates they don’t want. However, in Windows 10, 8, 7 and vista, the stuck update issue is a complaint voiced by many users.

What are the Update issues on your system, and why?

There are several reasons why you get a stuck windows update error.  Here are some of the issues that trigger the condition:

  • The problem may occur because of software conflicts or some pre-existing issue that was not identified until the update began installing.
  • The issue may lie within the Windows update itself.
  • It is common for Windows 7,8, 10, Vista, and XP to undergo freezing problems during an update.

Make certain that the updates are really stuck

Before you start to fix a stuck Windows update error, you might want to be sure that this is the exact issue. It so happens that some of the Windows updates take a long time for installation or configuration. If you try to fix a stuck Windows update without an existing problem, you may create a bigger one inadvertently.

To ensure the updates are stuck, you will notice there will not be any activity on the screen for about 3 hours or even more.

If the light indicating hard drive activity does not show any activity, it indicates the update is stuck. If the light is regular with short flashes, the update is not stuck. Sometimes the updates may freeze even before the three-hour span. But it is safer to wait until then and begin fixing the issue.

In Windows 10, you also have the option to check your update history. Understanding your most recent updates will help you configure Windows correctly. Check out the ways to fix a stuck Windows below:

Fix #1: Use the Windows Update Troubleshooter

The first method to fix a stuck Windows update is to run Windows update troubleshooter. The Windows system has a built-in troubleshooter. This feature can be used to fix a stuck Windows update problem. It is also an easy way to deal with the issue. The Troubleshooter helps in the following ways:

  • It closes the Windows Update feature
  • It clears the cache of the update download by renaming the folder, C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution toC:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution.old. This helps the update to start over
  • It helps to restart the update feature

Step 1:

The Troubleshooter feature is found in Windows 10, 8, and 7.  To find it, click on the ‘Start’ button. Search for the ‘Troubleshooting’ option. Run the choices that the search term provides.

Troubleshooting

Step 2:

In the troubleshooters list present in the control panel, go to System and Security feature. Click on the,‘Fix problems with Windows Update’ feature.

Fix problems with Windows Update

Step 3:

Click on the ‘Advanced’ option present in the troubleshooting Windows Update window. Enable the checkbox for ‘Apply repairs automatically’ option present under advanced settings.

Advanced option

Step 4:

Click on ‘Run as Administrator’ feature and click on the ‘Next’ option. This will provide the tool with administrative features so it can easily delete the required files from the download cache.

Apply repairs automatically

In the majority of cases, the troubleshooter feature can identify the cause of the issues and fix it by removing the stuck update. You can run the update again.

You need not worry if the troubleshooter is unable to identify the issue, as it is possible for the issue to be corrected by the starting and halting the Windows update service and clearing of the cache.

Fix #2: Force restart the Windows Update services to Restart

Here is another way to fix a stuck Windows update. Forcibly restarting the stuck download of Windows update is another way to deal with the issue. Here are the steps needed for this:

Step 1:

Open the ‘Command Prompt’ feature with administrative privileges.

Step 2:

Find ‘Run as Administrator’ feature by using right-click on the app that opens up.

Step 3:

In Command Prompt window that opens you can run the commands given below to stop the update.

net stop wuauserv

net stop bits

Step 4:

The next step is to clean files for restarting the update. To clean files, use the following path for opening the folder for software distribution – C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution

Step 5:

Once the folder is opened, delete the files. Restart the PC, if your computer prevents the file deletion.

Step 6:

Restart the system and run the commands given below one more time:

net start wuauserv

net start bits

Now look for the Windows Update and start downloading it. This should solve your stuck Windows update error.

Fix #3: Run the DISM command

This method is for the advanced users only since it involves DISM commands.

Here are the steps needed:

Step 1:

In ‘command prompt’ option choose ‘Administrative privileges’ feature.

Step 2:

Enter the command given below and run it by pressing Enter. This takes a few minutes to complete.

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth

Step 3:

To fix corrupted Windows Update service with external files, use the commands below. Use the actual source’s location instead of C:\RepairSource\Windows

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /Source:C:\RepairSource\Windows /LimitAccess

Step 4:

Enter the command below and press the Enter button:

sfc /scannow

Now close the page and try the update once more.

Fix #4: Manually delete Windows Update service cache

Manual deletion of the Windows update service cache is another way to deal with the issue. To make this step really effective, access safe mode when you boot the system and then start the process.

Here are the steps:

Step 1:

Boot windows into safe mode by holding the shift key, while you click on the restart feature in the system.

Startup Settings

Step 2:

Now navigate to the ‘Troubleshoot’ feature and choose ‘Advanced options’. Choose the ‘Start-up settings’ and click on the ‘restart’ option to boot into safe mode. You can also add the Safe Mode to the start menu to enable easy safe mode booting in the future.

Step 3:

Right-click on Start Menu. You can also press X+Windows. Select Command Prompt with Administrative feature and click on it.

Command Prompt (Admin)

Step 4:

Now enter the command below and press the Enter button:

net stop wuauserv

This will stop the update service.

net stop wuauserv

Step 5:

Open File Explorer and go to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution. Erase all files present in this folder. The update will restore the deleted files when it runs again.

SoftwareDistribution

Step 6:

Restart the update service and in the opened window and enter the below-mentioned command and press the Enter button.

net start wuauserv

net start wuauserv

When the update starts again, close the command window. Restart Windows in normal mode. Try the update again to know if you have fixed the problem.

Fix #5: Upgrade the Windows Updates service

In some cases, your Windows Updates is not working properly causing the issue. This is especially true for Windows 7. When you install the current updates, this issue will not occur. Here are the steps for upgrading the Windows updates service:

upgrading the update service

Step 1:

Open the Windows Updates feature by choosing, ‘System and Security’ feature from Control Panel.

Step 2:

Click on, ‘Change Settings’ present in the sidebar. Choose, ‘Never Check for Updates’ from the menu and click on, ‘OK’.

Step 3:

Reboot the system after the setting change is done.

Restart

Step 4:

After restarting, download the Windows updates manually choosing the updates based on the 32 bit or 64 bit Windows version you have.  Here are the updates for the 64-bit edition of Windows 7 and 32-bit edition.

For 64-bit the updates are as follows:

KB3020369, April 2015 servicing stack update for Windows 7 (64-bit version)

KB3172605, July 2016 update rollup for Windows 7 SP1 (64-bit version)

For 32-bit the updates are given below:

KB3020369, April 2015 servicing stack update for Windows 7 (32-bit version)

KB3172605, July 2016 update rollup for Windows 7 SP1 (32-bit version)

Windows bit version

Step 5:

Use double click on “KB3020369” for installing it and when it completes, click on the next Windows updates. You have to restart the system for completing the installation. Wait for about 10 minutes after restarting to allow the update to complete.

Step 6:

Now go to the ‘System and Security’ feature in control panel and choose ‘Windows Update’. Select ‘Change Settings’ from this feature and return the setting to its original automatic position or you can select any other setting you want.

Step 7:

Now click on the ‘Check for Updates’ option to look for the updates and install them. Close your control panel windows and turn off your computer to see if the error is fixed.

Fix #6: Manually download the Windows updates

Manually installing updates using an external tool named WSUS Offline Update to fix a stuck Windows update issue. This tool helps to download and install the Windows update provided by Microsoft.

You have to run the tool and use it to download system files and install the updates.  Here is how you use the tool:

UpdateGenerator

Step 1:

Download the WSUS Offline Update application. Extract the tool to a separate folder and run UpdateGenerator.exe feature

Step 2:

Choose the appropriate Windows version (x64 Global for 62/ x86 Global for 32-bit). Click on the ‘Start’ option and the tool will download the updates.

Step 3:

The speed of updates depends on your internet connection’s speed. It may take longer when your system has a fresh OS installation.

WSUS Offline Update application

Step 4:

When the download is completed, open, the folder named ‘Client’ from the WSUS tool and runUpdateInstaller.exe app.

Step 5:

To install all the Windows updates that you have downloaded, click on, ‘Start’. Turn off your computer to start again. Once the updates are installed fully, the update service will work effectively.

Fix #7: Delete Temporary Windows Update File Cache

Sometimes a broken Windows Update process will cause issues to your PC’s performance. When you have a stuck update Windows error, you can try deleting the temporary Windows update files. Remember when your temporary files folder is almost filled, it will cause errors. Deleting temporary Windows update files will also remove recently installed updates.

Sometimes when Window’s troubleshooter does not work, you can try to do the process itself. You can accomplish this method by deleting the Windows Update file cache. These are just temporary files for your update that you do not need but maybe using up valuable space when you are updating Windows OS.

All you need to do is to boot your Pc in Safe Mode (see Fix#9), open the command prompt using administrator access. Type “net stop wuauserv” and press enter, followed with “net stop bits” and press enter again.

After, go to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution folder and delete everything. Once you restart Windows Update file cache, Windows creates a new folder where you can store files.

Fix #8: Restart your computer

Another way to fix a stuck Windows Update process is to simply restart your PC. Use the power off button to off and then restart the system or use the start menu.  This will help to start the system in normal mode, so you can install the updates easily. This hard reboot is necessary to deal with the frozen update issue.

You may have to hold power button for more than a few seconds to turn off the computer. If you are using a laptop, remove its battery to shut it and replace it to restart.

For Windows 10 and 8, you will see a login screen after restarting. Click on the power button present on the right bottom and choose the ‘Update and restart’ option.

Fix #9: Boot into Safe Mode

To fix a stuck Windows update error, you can boot into safe mode. This step is explained in the manual deletion of update cache step. The safe mode helps to activate just a few important services and drivers that you need absolutely. Safe mode also allows you in updating Windows without using any of your personal files which may cause software conflicts with your update process.

Windows 10 Safe Mode

If the issue you are facing is related to a conflict with another service or program, this step will help resolve the issue. Once the updates are successfully installed, you can revert to normal Windows restart mode from the safe mode.

Typically, you can boot into safe mode by pressing a key in the keyboard once you enter the Windows login screen. Here you can access all the system files necessary to fix the Windows update utility error. It is also one of the safest ways to fix Windows update installation. Take note, safe mode is also available if when booting into startup settings menu.

Fix #10: Perform a System Restore

System Restore is a recovery tool for Windows that will allow users to reverse changes done to the OS. This is a more comprehensive repair process but when done right, you will be able to fix the error. If need to get back any important settings or files, you can use system restore to access your last saved version again or “restore point”. In short, system restore acts just like an “undo” button for your entire operating system.

Access system restore utility in the Safe Mode. Click system restore in its Safe Mode. Ensure you select restore point formed by Windows before the installation. This should fix your frozen Windows update installation issue.

Scan for affected programs

This helps to return your system back to its restore point. If the issue occurred after an automatic update, ensure you change the Update settings to prevent the recurrence of the problem.

System Restore

System restore can be tried using the Advanced Start-up feature in Windows 8 and 10 and from ‘System Recovery’ option in Windows Vista and 7, if the Safe Mode access is not available or did not work out.

With these features available outside the operating system, you can use them when Windows is unavailable completely. You can also try a more in-depth fix than just System Restore. You can use the Startup Repair tool which is also accessible from the Advanced Startup Options screen to fix underlying issues. Startup repair from the Advanced Startup Options allows more flexibility to fix various errors.

This option is absent in Windows XP. If system restore did not do anything for your computer, be sure to try the next automatic repair. Applying a restore point did not work? Try the next fix below.

Fix #11: Use Automatic Repair

When the above steps fail, you can use the automatic repair feature.

Use Start-up Repair, if you have Windows 8 or 10. If this does not work, use Reset PC feature.

Start-up Repair

For Windows Vista and 7,‘Start-up Repair’ and ‘Repair Install’ method for Windows XP can help with your frozen update issue.

Fix #12: Update your computer’s Bios

While this is a rare cause, it can occur. When you do a BIOS update, it could help with updates connected to the inbuilt hardware and motherboard of the system.

Update BIOS

Fix #14: Use Security Software To Remove Virus

Sometimes when you experience Windows update service errors, you may be dealing with corrupted files or virus. When Windows updates started installing it could pick a malware or two. In addition, your personal files may have malware that you are unaware of. Use security software or third party apps (antivirus software) of your choice to fix the issue.

Fix #13: Try Reinstalling Windows

Finally, if the issue still persists, you can try to reinstall Windows. In this step, you have to erase the Windows installed in the system’s hard drive completely. This will delete all your update history so you can start on a clean slate. This is the last resort measure if the above methods fail to work. This can effectively deal with the frozen update issue.

See Also: How to Perform a Clean Install in Windows 10

Software conflicts can be the main reason behind the stuck updates, using the clean install and rerunning the updates will give you a smoothly working system. Be sure to follow the correct installation process when doing this process.

James Masterson
Meet the author

James is a software engineer and an information architect with keen attention to detail. He focuses on data-driven decisions, making sure that all decisions are backed up by reliable facts. His key interests include enhancing find-ability and usability of our content related to Windows 10; troubleshooting errors; and tech news. Robert is also enthusiastic about structured data, which he believes will help the world make better sense of their information in the digital age.