One of the most common problems many 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 Windows Update, it is a smooth process that users have complete control over.
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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?
The windows update gets stuck due to several reasons. Here are some of the issues that trigger the condition:
- The problem may occur because of software conflict 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
It so happens that some of the Windows updates take a long time for installation or configuration. You have to ensure therefore the updates are really stuck before you move on. If you try to fix the issue 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.
Fix #1: Use the Windows Update Troubleshooter
The Windows system has a built-in troubleshooter. This feature can be used to fix the stuck 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
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.
In the troubleshooters list present in the control panel, go to System and Security feature. Click on the,‘Fix problems with Windows Update’ feature.
Click on the ‘Advanced’ option present in the troubleshooting Windows Update window. Enable the checkbox for ‘Apply repairs automatically’ option present under advanced settings.
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.
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 of the service and clearing of the cache.
Fix #2: Force restart the Windows Update to Restart
Forcibly restarting the stuck download of Windows update is another way to deal with the issue. Here are the steps needed for this:
Open the ‘Command Prompt’ feature with the administrative privileges from your system by entering ‘Command Prompt’ into the Search box.
Find ‘Run as Administrator’ feature by using right click on the command prompt app that opens up.
In Command Prompt window that opens you can run the commands given below to stop the update.
net stop wuauserv
net stop bits
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
Once the folder is opened, delete the files. Restart the PC, if your computer prevents the file deletion.
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.
Fix #3: Run the DISM command
This method is for the advanced users only since it involves DISM commands.
Here are the steps needed:
In ‘command prompt’ option choose ‘Administrative privileges’ feature.
Enter the command given below and run it by pressing Enter. This takes a few minutes to complete.
DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
To fix corrupted Windows Update 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
Enter the command below and press the Enter button:
Now close command prompt page and try the update once more.
Fix #4: Manually delete Windows Update’s cache
Manual deletion of the Update’s cache is another way to deal with the issue. To make this step really effective, you can boot the system in Safe mode and then start on the process.
Here are the steps:
Boot windows into safe mode by holding the shift key, while you click on restart feature in the system.
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.
Right-click on Start Menu. You can also press X+Windows. Select Command Prompt with Administrative feature and click on it.
Now enter the command below and press the Enter button:
net stop wuauserv
This will stop the update service.
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.
Restart the update service and in the opened command prompt page enter the below-mentioned command and press the Enter button.
net start wuauserv
When the update starts again, close the Command Prompt page. Restart Windows in normal mode. Try the update again to know if you have fixed the problem.
Fix #5: Upgrade the Windows Update service
In some cases the Update requires an update to work 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 update service:
Open the Windows Update feature by choosing,‘System and Security’ feature from Control Panel.
Click on, ‘Change Settings’ present in the sidebar. Choose, ‘Never Check for Updates’ from the menu and click on, ‘OK’.
Reboot the system after the setting change is done.
After restarting, download the 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)
Use double click on “KB3020369” for installing it and when it completes, click on the next update. You have to restart the system for completing the installation. Wait for about 10 minutes after restarting to allow the update to complete.
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.
Now click on the ‘Check for Updates’ option to look for the updates and install them.
Fix #6: Manually download the updates
This is solution where you use an external tool named WSUS Offline Update for correcting the stuck update. This tool helps to download and install the Windows update provided by Microsoft.
You have to run the tool and use it to download and install the updates. Here is how you use the tool:
Download the WSUS Offline Update application. Extract the tool to a separate folder and run UpdateGenerator.exe feature
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.
The speed of updates depends on your internet connection’s speed. It may take longer when your system has a fresh OS installation.
When the download is completed, open, the folder named ‘Client’ from the WSUS tool and runUpdateInstaller.exe app.
To install all the updates that you have downloaded, click on, ‘Start’. Once the updates are installed fully, the update service will work effectively.
Fix #7: Use Ctrl-Alt-Del
If the update is stuck midway, you can use this method.
Press the Control+ Alt+ Del keys. You will see the login screen of your system.
Log into the system as you usually do and allow the installation of updates effectively. If the system restarts after pressing Control+ Alt+ Del, you have to select safe mode boot.
Fix #8: Restart your computer
Use power off button to off and then restart the system or use reset feature. 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 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
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.
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.
Fix #10: Perform a System Restore
This has to be done in Safe Mode. Start the system in its Safe Mode. Ensure you select restore point formed by Windows before the installation.
This helps to return your system back to its pre-update state. If the issue occurred after an automatic update, ensure you change the Update settings to prevent the recurrence of the problem.
System restore can be tried using 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. This option is absent in Windows XP
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.
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.
Fix #13: Clean install Windows 10
In this step, you have to erase the Windows installed in the system’s hard drive completely. Once this is done, you reinstall Windows. This is the last resort measure if the above methods fail to work. This can effectively deal with the frozen update issue.
As software conflicts are the main reason behind the stuck updates, using the clean install and rerunning the updates will give you a smoothly working system.