Windows updates are important as they offer new security patches and fix existing issues. When an update is available, it is recommended that you install it as soon as possible. The update process is usually smooth and does not cause any problem. But, sometimes the update gets stuck during the installation process. While it is rare, it still happens.
The updates usually take only a few minutes to install. You know that Windows update is stuck when it is taking forever. There are many reasons why the update may get frozen or stuck. Software conflict is the most common cause of this problem. However, sometimes there is an issue with the update itself. Unfortunately, Windows doesn’t tell you the reason why; it just gets stuck. This could happen with the older Windows such as XP or 7 or even the latest ones including Windows 10 and 8.
There is no specific solution to the Windows update stuck issue. There are a few troubleshooting methods though that, more often than not, take care of the problem and let you start using your computer normally. In this article we take a look at some of the most common solutions to this problem. I am hopeful that one of them will be the resolution to the issue. Keep reading!
Force Reboot the Computer
This might sound counter-intuitive because when the updates are being installed the screen clearly tells you not to turn the computer off. But, when you find the windows update stuck and it doesn’t seem to be moving forward for ages, that’s probably the only option at hand.
You won’t be able to turn the updates off normally by clicking the ‘Restart’ or ‘Shutdown’ button. You will need to force reboot it. To do that, press and hold the ‘Power’ button on your laptop or the ‘Reset’ button on the CPU unit of your desktop. It may take a few seconds for the computer to reboot depending upon the hardware settings.
Once the Windows has rebooted, there are two possibilities – either it will reboot to the log in screen or the Windows updates will start all over again. Please note that even if the updates do not start automatically, you will have to choose ‘Restart & Update’ (or something like that) from the power menu at some point.
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Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete
If you don’t like the idea of hard-rebooting the Windows when it is stuck on updates, the other option is to use the iconic Ctrl + Alt + Delete option. Now, this may or may not work depending upon what kind of updates is being installed and the reason why they are stuck. But, there is no harm in trying.
If this move is successful then you will either be taken to the Windows log-in screen or it will reboot and restart the update. Unfortunately, it is not possible to how your computer will behave – one way or the other.
If you are presented with the log-in screen then sign in to the OS and manually restart it to install the updates again.
Reboot in Safe Mode
The above methods may resolve the issue but they also may not. Sometimes, interrupting the normal course of update may cause some Windows to function abnormally. If that’s the case, it would be a good idea to reboot the OS in the Safe Mode. In this mode Windows runs with only the minimum required services and drivers and lets you troubleshoot many issues. A lot of times when you experience windows update stuck issue you can install the updates easily in the Safe Mode.
To enter the Safe Mode you need to press the F8 key at the right moment when the computer has just started to reboot. It must be pressed immediately after the first boot screen appears. Note that you will probably only have a second to press the key and load the reboot menu. If the key isn’t pressed at the right time, Windows will boot normally and you will have to restart it again. You may press F8 key repeatedly when the computer starts to boot to enter the reboot menu.
Note: In Windows 10 and 8 you can access Safe Mode from the Startup Settings
Incomplete installation may cause some Windows services to functional unexpectedly and erratically. This is why it is recommend you perform a System Restore in order to wipe out any files deployed when Windows was trying to update your computer and got stuck in the process.
Thankfully, Windows automatically creates restore points from time to time even if you don’t do it manually. Make sure you choose the restore point created just before the update in question.
There are a few things you would want to be aware of. Firstly, perform system restore in the Safe Mode as there is a good chance you may get stuck again on the update screen.
In case the system restore fails in the Safe Mode you can access it from outside Windows using Advanced Startup Options in Windows 10 and 8 and System Recover Options in Windows 7 and Vista.
The scope of this article does not permit me to elaborate on all the System Restore options and processes. If you are not sure how to go about it, you could look up for guidance on search engines like Google. Comprehensive, useful tutorials are abundantly available on the web.
Clean Windows Installation
This should be used only as the last resort when everything else has failed. Remember that clean installation of Windows will wipe out all the data on the drive on which it is installed. So, do not forget to take the backup if you have something important you cannot afford to or do not want to lose.
Reinstalling the OS will remove all your installed apps and programs. It will also reset all your Settings. This is why this should only be done in the extreme situation.
While it is true that clean installation can take care of most of the windows update stuck issues but sometimes the same update may result in the same problem all over again.
If you are using Windows 10 or 8, you are in luck. These OS have an option called ‘Reset This PC’ (also called ‘Refresh this PC’ in Windows 8). This recovery option is non-destructive and simply reinstall Windows without causing any data loss.
You can choose this option from Advanced Startup Options > Troubleshoot
Windows update usually do not cause any issues. However, sometimes they get stuck. One of the above methods should help you fix this problem and let you start using Windows as normal. But, what if you continue to experience the issue? If the Windows update keeps getting stuck, there may be a problem with your hardware. It will be a good idea to have it checked by a hardware expert. And, if hardware is not an issue, I would recommend you to contact Windows support team for further resolution.