Windows update stuck- Best Guide in 2023

Windows update stuck – Step by step guide

Computer updates are important to keep your device running smoothly and securely. However, sometimes Windows updates can get stuck or freeze during installation. A stuck update is frustrating, but don’t worry – there are a number of steps you can take to fix the problem. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the top solutions for getting an stuck Windows update back on track.

Windows Update Stuck

Why Does a Windows Update Get Stuck?

Before we look at how to fix a stuck Windows update, let’s first understand some of the common reasons an update may hang or fail to install properly:

Connectivity issues – If you have a poor internet connection, or if there is a problem with your network, it can disrupt the update download and installation. Updates require downloading update files from Microsoft servers, so a dropped internet connection is a prime suspect.

Insufficient storage space – Your main C: drive needs to have enough free storage space for the update download and installation. If your drive is nearly full, it can cause the update process to hang.

Pending restarts – Sometimes updates require a system restart to finish installing properly. If you have postponed restarts for previous updates, it can block subsequent updates from installing correctly.

Corrupted system files – Key Windows system files can sometimes become damaged or corrupted. Critical updates may fail to install if certain system files they rely on have errors.

Outdated drivers – Device drivers that are outdated, or not designed for a particular Windows update, can sometimes clash with install of new updates.

Incompatible software – Occasionally some installed desktop apps utilize components that conflict with updates. This can block an update from finalizing installation.

User account control issues – The user account permissions and settings need to allow installation of updates. If user account controls are not configured properly, it can hang the process.

Now that you know some potential causes, let’s go through the steps to troubleshoot and fix a stuck or frozen Windows update.

Restart Your Computer

The first step is often the simplest – try restarting your computer. If a Windows update gets stuck mid-process, a restart will clear out any temporary update lock files or installations.

  •  Click on the Start button, and select Power > Restart to reboot your computer.

After rebooting, Windows will detect the stuck update and try to resume installation automatically. This can resolve many stuck or frozen update issues.

Pause Windows Updates

If restarting does not resolve the stuck update, next you can pause Windows Updates for a short time.

  • Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update
  • Click the “Pause updates for 7 days” button

This pauses attempts to install updates, giving you a chance to troubleshoot the stuck update. After researching the issue, you can resume updates when ready.

Check Connection Issues

As mentioned, network problems are a common culprit behind stuck updates. Verify that your internet access is working normally.

Try browsing websites – if pages fail to load, you have a general internet connectivity issue.

  • Open Settings > Network & Internet > Status and examine for problems.
  • Reset your network device if needed (modem, router, switch).
  • Contact your ISP if network issues persist.

Connection problems must be resolved before the stuck update can continue properly.

Free Up Drive Space

If your main C: drive is low on disk space, Windows may not have room to download and unpack update files.

  • Go to This PC and check drive space on C:
  • Click Manage > Change where new content is saved and redirect downloads, documents, etc to other drives.
  • Uninstall unused apps to regain space on C:
  • Move files like photos, videos, etc to an external drive

Free up at least 15-20GB of free space on C: for Windows updates to proceed.

Restart Windows Update Services

You can also try restarting the Windows Update services:

  • Press Windows+R to open the Run dialog
  • Type “services.msc” and click OK
  • Scroll down and locate the Windows Update service
  • Right-click on it and select Restart

This restarts the background Windows Update service, which can help resume a stuck update.

Rename the SoftwareDistribution Folder

The SoftwareDistribution folder contains temporary Windows Update files. Renaming it resets the folder and can fix stuck updates.

  • Press Windows+R to open the Run dialog
  • Type %systemroot% and click OK
  • This opens the Windows folder – look for the SoftwareDistribution folder
  • Right-click it and select Rename
  • Rename it to SoftwareDistribution.old

Restart your PC after this – Windows will recreate a new empty SoftwareDistribution folder to retry the stuck update.

Disable Third-Party Antivirus Software

Some anti-virus programs and firewalls can occasionally interfere with installation of Windows updates. Temporarily disabling them is worth a try.

  • Right-click the antivirus icon in the system tray and select Disable
  • Alternatively go into the program’s settings and turn off virus/threat protection
  • Schedule to re-enable your antivirus after updating your system

With antivirus disabled, attempt the stuck Windows update again.

Run Windows Update Troubleshooter

Windows includes an automated Update Troubleshooter tool that can detect and fix common update issues.

  • Go to Settings > Update & Security
  • Select Troubleshoot > Additional troubleshooters
  • Run the Windows Update troubleshooter and follow the steps
  • Restart your computer after it completes

This troubleshooter will analyze your system and attempt repairs if any known issues are found.

Perform a Windows Update Reset

Resetting the Windows Update components can clear any corrupt files or data that is blocking installation.

  • Open Command Prompt as admin
  • Type **net stop wuauserv** and press Enter
  • Next type **cd %systemroot%\\SoftwareDistribution** and press Enter
  • Then type **ren Download Download.old** and press Enter
  • Finally type **net start wuauserv** and press Enter

This will stop Windows Update services, rename the Download folder, and restart the services. Try checking for updates after running these commands.

Clear Windows Update Cache

You can also try clearing the Windows Update cache – this deletes any corrupted temporary update files.

  • Press Windows+R to open the Run dialog
  • Type **%windir%\\SoftwareDistribution\\DataStore\\Logs** and click OK
  • Select and delete all files in the folder

With the update cache deleted, restart your PC and check for updates again. The stuck update should re-initialize.

Run System File Checker


The built-in System File Checker tool (SFC) can scan Windows system files and replace any missing or corrupt files. This may resolve an update hanging due to system file errors.

  •  Type Command Prompt in the Windows search box
  •  Right-click Command Prompt and Run as administrator
  •  Type **sfc /scannow** and press Enter
  •  This will scan Windows system files and repair any integrity violations

Run SFC before trying the stuck update again.

Perform a Repair Install

If no other troubleshooting helps, you can do a Repair Install (also called an In-Place Upgrade) to refresh Windows system files without losing your data or apps. This preserves your files and settings, unlike a clean install.

  •  Go to Settings > Update & Security
  •  Select Recovery > ‘Get started’ under Advanced startup
  •  Reboot into the Advanced startup options screen
  •  Select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command Prompt
  •  At the command prompt, enter:

setup.exe /auto upgrade

This will start the repair installation process. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete it. The update should proceed normally after this.

Clean Install Windows

If all else fails, you may need to do a clean reinstall of Windows to resolve the stuck update issue. This wipes your drive and starts fresh with a new Windows installation.

  •  Back up any personal files and data you want to keep
  •  Boot from a Windows 10 USB installer drive
  •  Follow setup prompts to install Windows clean on your drive
  •  Install drivers and apps after finishing setup

While time-consuming, a clean Windows install should clear any problems and allow updates to work normally again.

Getting stuck during an important Windows update can be annoying. Hopefully one of these solutions will help get your stalled update back on track. Be sure to backup important data first before attempting any major troubleshooting steps. Patience and slowly trying each step may be required to resolve the issue.

 Frequently Asked Questions About Stuck Windows Updates

Here are some common questions and answers about dealing with stuck or frozen Windows updates:

 What causes the “We couldn’t complete the updates, undoing changes” error?

This error typically means an update failed to install properly and Windows had to revert the changes. Possible causes include drive errors, pending restarts, system file corruption, or hardware incompatibilities.

Why does my Windows update get stuck at 0% or any other percentage?

If an update freezes at a specific percentage, it usually indicates a problem downloading or writing update files to your drive. Connectivity issues, low disk space, or drive errors can create this problem.

 How can I pause or temporarily stop Windows updates?

You can pause updates by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and clicking “Pause updates for 7 days”. This gives you a chance to troubleshoot stuck updates.

 What should I do if my computer gets stuck in a reboot loop?

If your PC reboots repeatedly without completing setup after an update, boot into Safe Mode and run the Windows Update troubleshooter. You may need to roll back the failed update.

 How long should I wait before forcing a shutdown on a stuck update?

It’s best to allow at least 1 hour for a stuck update before forcing a reboot. important system changes happen behind the scenes, so give it ample time before interrupting an install.

Can I delete the SoftwareDistribution folder to fix stuck updates?

Yes, deleting this folder resets the Windows Update component and clears out any temporary stuck files. It will re-download required update files after you restart.

 Will a clean install or reset always resolve stuck update problems?

A Windows 10 reset or clean install removes any corrupted OS files that could block updates, so this is often the most reliable fix when all else fails.


Updates are an essential part of keeping any Windows PC running optimally. But on occasion, they can get stuck or freeze up during installation. The good news is there are a number of troubleshooting steps you can take to get a stuck update back on track.

First, try simpler solutions like restarting your computer, pausing updates, and checking your internet connectivity. If the basic steps don’t get the update moving again, you may need to dig in deeper – clear update caches, run system tools like SFC and DISM, or perform an in-place upgrade repair. For persistent issues, fully resetting Windows with a clean install is the most thorough fix.

While frustrating, stuck updates can be resolved with patience and gradually work through potential solutions. Keep the key troubleshooting steps outlined in this guide handy as a reference to get your Windows update moving forward again. Consistently keeping your system up-to-date is crucial for performance, security, and stability.


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