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 getting the Windows Update stuck issues while it is in progress. Updates are essential 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. This article will look at how 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 sure that the updates really are stuck

Before you 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 to install or configure. 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 suggests the update is stuck. The update is not stuck if the light is regular with short flashes. Sometimes the updates may freeze even before the three hours. 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 the Windows update troubleshooter. The Windows system has a built-in troubleshooter. This feature can be used to improve 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 see it, click on the ‘Start’ button. Search for the ‘Troubleshooting’ option. Run the choices that the search term provides.


Step 2:

Go to the System and Security feature in the troubleshooter’s list in the control panel. Click on the ‘Fix problems with Windows Update’ feature.

Fix problems with Windows Update

Step 3:

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

Advanced option

Step 4:

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

Apply repairs automatically

In most cases, the troubleshooter feature can identify the cause of the issues and fix them by removing the stuck update. You can rerun the update.

You need not worry if the troubleshooter cannot identify the issue, as the problem can be corrected by starting and halting the Windows update service and clearing 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 the 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 the ‘Run as Administrator’ feature by right-clicking 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 to open 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 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; this should solve your stuck Windows update error.

Fix #3: Run the DISM command

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

Here are the steps needed:

Step 1:

In the ‘command prompt’ option, choose the ‘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:

Use the commands below to fix corrupted Windows Update service with external files. 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 the Windows Update service cache

Manual deletion of the Windows update service cache is another way to deal with the issue. To make this step effective, access safe mode when you boot the system and 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 Safe Mode to the start menu to enable easy, secure 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.


Step 6:

Restart the update service, enter the command below in the opened window, 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

Sometimes, your Windows Updates are not working correctly, 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’ from Control Panel.

Step 2:

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

Step 3:

Reboot the system after the setting change is done.

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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 the 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:

Double-click on “KB3020369” to install it, and click on the following Windows updates when it completes. You have to restart the system to complete the installation and wait about 10 minutes after resuming to allow the update to complete.

Step 6:

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

Step 7:

Now click on the ‘Check for Updates’ option to look for and install the updates. 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:


Step 1:

Download the WSUS Offline Update application. Extract the tool to a separate folder and run the 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, and 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 your PC performance issues. 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 temporary files for your update that you do not need but may use up valuable space when you update Windows OS.

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

After, go to the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution folder and delete everything. Once you restart the 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 restart your PC. Use the power off button and restart the system or use the start menu. This will help start the system in normal mode, enabling you to install the updates quickly. This hard reboot is necessary to deal with the frozen update issue.

You may have to hold the 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 down and replace it to restart it.

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

Fix #9: Boot into Safe Mode

You can boot into safe mode to fix a stuck Windows update error. This step is explained in the manual deletion of the update cache step. The safe mode helps to activate just a few essential services and drivers that you need absolutely. Safe mode also allows you to update Windows without using any of your 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 installed, you can revert to normal Windows restart mode from the safe mode.

Typically, you can boot into safe mode by pressing a key on the keyboard once you enter the Windows login screen. You can access all the system files necessary to fix the Windows update utility error, and it is also one of the safest ways to fix Windows update installation. Take note safe mode is also available when booting into the 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 you can fix the error correctly. If you need to get back any crucial settings or files, you can use system restore to access your last saved version again or “restore point.” In short, system restore acts like an “undo” button for your operating system.

Access the system restore utility in Safe Mode. Click system restore in its Safe Mode. Ensure you select the 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 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 the ‘System Recovery’ option in Windows Vista and 7 if the Safe Mode access is unavailable or does not work out.

With these features available outside the operating system, you can use them when Windows is unavailable entirely. You can also try a more in-depth fix than just System Restore. You can use the Startup Repair tool, 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. Try the next automatic repair if the system restore did not do anything for your computer. Applying a restore point did not work? Try the following 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 the Reset PC feature.

Start-up Repair

For Windows Vista and 7, the ‘Start-up Repair’ and ‘Repair Install’ methods 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 viruses. When Windows updates started installing, it could pick malware or two. In addition, your files may have malware that you are unaware of. Use security or third-party apps (antivirus software) to fix the issue.

Fix #13: Try Reinstalling Windows

Finally, if the issue persists, you can try to reinstall Windows. In this step, you must completely erase the Windows installed in the system’s hard drive. 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, which 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Windows update searching for updates forever?

It is possible that the Windows Update process has encountered an error or is stuck in an infinite loop. You should restart the computer and check to see if the update process will continue. If this does not resolve the issue, you may need to look into resetting the Windows Update components or manually downloading the updates.

Why is Windows update stuck on restart?

It is difficult to answer this question without more specific information. It is possible that the Windows Update process is encountering an issue while attempting to restart, such as an incompatibility with other installed software or hardware. You might consider running a system diagnostic to identify any potential problems causing the issue.

Why do windows updates take so long?

Windows updates can take a long time to install due to the complexity of the process, which includes downloading the update, verifying the digital signature, and then installing the update. Additionally, the time it takes to install depends on the update’s size and the computer’s speed.

What to do if Windows update stuck at 100?

If Windows Update is stuck at 100%, it could indicate a problem with your computer’s system files or settings. I would suggest first trying a basic troubleshooting step, such as restarting your computer. You can try resetting the Windows Update components if this does not fix the issue. To do this, open the Command Prompt as an Administrator and run the following commands:
net stop wuauserv
net stop cryptSvc
net stop bits
net stop msiserver
Ren C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.old
Ren C:\Windows\System32\catroot2 Catroot2.old
net start wuauserv
net start cryptSvc
net start bits
net start msiserver
After running these commands, try running Windows Update again and see if the issue has been resolved. If not, you may need to take further steps, such as running an in-place upgrade or restoring your system to an earlier time.

How do I fix Windows 10 update problems?

The first step to fixing Windows 10 update problems is to identify the cause of the issue. This can be done by performing a Windows Update troubleshooter built into the operating system. To access the troubleshooter, open the Settings menu, select ‘Update & Security,’ and select ‘Troubleshoot.’ Once the cause of the issue has been identified, a few different strategies can be employed to fix the problem. The first is to update the operating system manually simply. This can be done by downloading the latest Windows 10 ISO file from Microsoft and using the Media Creation Tool to create a bootable USB drive. Once the USB is ready, it can install the latest Windows 10. Another option is to reset Windows Update components. This can be done by stopping Windows Update services, deleting certain files, and then restarting the services. Finally, if the issue persists, it may be necessary to reinstall Windows 10 completely. This process will wipe the hard drive and replace all existing files, eliminating any update issues.

James Masterson
Meet the author

James is a software engineer and an information architect with a keen eye for detail. Among his key interests are enhancing the usability of our Windows 10 content, troubleshooting errors, and tech news.