Last Updated on December 9, 2019 by Husain Parvez
Windows updates can be bad even when they work perfectly. Nobody likes getting interrupted or having his internet connection being slowed down due to random downloads. And things can only get worse when you’re experiencing the “Windows update stuck” issue.
Thankfully, there are quite a lot of different solutions that may end up helping you get past this. So, let’s check them out one by one and see if we can fix that problem.
Make Sure That The Update is Actually Stuck
Before trying to do anything, make sure that the update is actually stuck. Some updates can take a long time to install. Especially on older machines and especially on big Windows updates.
The easiest way to check that out is by checking your hard drive activity LED. It looks something like this:
As long as you’re writing something on the drive, be it an SSD or HDD, that light should be blinking repeatedly or every few seconds – depending on how much data is being written and how often. The same concept applies to Windows updates as they need to be written somewhere during the installation.
The exact HDD icon will differ from computer to computer. Most modern desktops don’t even have an icon – only a secondary light somewhere nearby the power LED.
Also, do keep in mind that just because nothing is being written on the hard drive, doesn’t mean that Windows isn’t moving forward with the update. It could also be downloading. The easiest way to check that is by using the default task manager!
In that screenshot, you can see that Steam is downloading at 7.4 Mbps. If that was a Windows update, the Service Host: DNS Client should be the one to consume that data. To check it out for yourself, right-click on the Windows dock and select “Task Manager”.
Open “More details”, sort apps by network usage, and see if Windows is downloading that update. If it’s not downloading or installing anything, then there is a chance that it’s indeed stuck.
1: Windows Update Stuck? Try Rebooting the PC
This is the most traditional approach – ever. In the tech world, when something doesn’t work, regardless of what it may be, turning it off and on is often an easy workaround for fixing it.
Now, we know. Windows recommends that we shouldn’t turn off our computer while updates are being installed so that we won’t end up corrupting the OS and rendering our computer useless. However, that only applies while you’re installing the updates. If all you do is wait for the download to continue, then restarting the computer should be fine.
This is kind of how it looks like when a Windows update is stuck on the download process. Again, at this point, restarting the computer should be fine. Don’t do it from the power button. Instead, use the Windows icon to perform a restart (This puts less strain on hard drives and fan hubs and it’s also another way to ensure that you’re not going to abruptly cut the power).
To do that, simply:
- Click on the Windows icon at the bottom-left part of the screen
- Press the power button
- Then click on “Restart” or “Update and restart” in case that Windows has already downloaded some updates
If Windows is already installing the updates and it’s frozen there instead, then turning off your computer at that point is a very risky thing to do. That’s because if the update is a crucial part of the OS and it gets corrupted in the process, then you’re going to end up making Windows unbootable.
2: Windows Update Stuck Again? Try Restarting the Router
We previously tried to fix the issue by restarting the computer. But that’s only going to work in case that the problem lies within the computer. What if it’s the router or your internet connection instead?
If you tried downloading the update after rebooting the PC only for it to get stuck again, then there is a chance that we’re dealing with a network-related issue.
While there’s not much that you can do on your own for the internet connection/line, you can most definitely fix the router with a simple restart. Unless it’s broken of course.
The easiest way to do that is by heading over to it and clicking the power button one time to power it off and once more in order to turn it on.
The exact power button placement and shape will differ from router to router. So, look for it on your own and try to avoid the reset button for now as that could put us into a whole new world of adventures (Re-inserting passwords, usernames, etc).
Some people recommend waiting for a few seconds to a few minutes before powering on the router again in order for it to cool down. So, you could try that as well.
Powering on may take anywhere from a few seconds to 5-10 minutes depending on the router and DSL connection.
3: Reboot Into Safe Mode
In some rare instances, 3rd party programs may end up interfering with Windows updates which could explain why your update is stuck. Now, you could try closing programs or services one by one until the culprit is found. But, an easier way would probably be rebooting into safe mode and handling the updates from there.
The reason that we are after Windows’ safe mode here is that it boots up our system with nothing but the bare essentials. So, if there’s indeed a 3rd party program which is interfering with your updates, then it won’t be launched on safe mode and everything should go well from here on out.
So, to boot Windows into safe mode:
- Click on the Windows icon (bottom left part of the screen)
- Go to the settings (Gear icon)
- Update & security
- Restart now (Under Advanced Startup)
- Advanced options
- Startup Settings
After this, you need to press either the 4 or F4 button which will put the PC into safe mode. And once the PC is ready again, try installing the update or updates by going into the settings and manually checking for updates.
4: Try Using The Troubleshooting Tool
Windows 10 comes with a built-in tool that’s specifically made for helping out with Windows updates. It may prove to be useful here. Here’s how to use it:
- Open the Windows’ search bar
- Type “Control panel” then hit enter or click on the result that comes up
- Go to “System and Security”
- Under “Security and Maintenance” click on “Troubleshoot common computer problems”
- Click on “Windows Update”
- Then “Run the troubleshooter”
After that, simply wait for the tool to do its job. If there’s something wrong, Windows should let you know about it and depending on the problem, it may fix everything automatically or it may also recommend some steps that need to be taken in order for the problem to be fixed.
5: Perform a System Reset
A system reset is your last resort as it’ll delete pretty much everything on your PC – apart from maybe your personal files. But, even that largely depends on where you keep your files.
That being said, if it all comes down to this, we’d highly recommend making a backup of anything that’s important. Do keep in mind that this applies for apps as well. Keeping backups is actually something that should be done regularly. But, truth be told, most of us never bother. In any case, back to business.
Here’s what you need to do in order to perform a system reset on Windows 10:
- Click on the Windows icon (bottom left part of the screen)
- Go to Settings
- Click on “Update & Security”
- Select “Get Started” which should lie under “Reset this PC”
- Choose whether you want to delete or keep your personal files (Again, many files will be deleted no matter what – depending on their location)
- Then follow the on-screen instructions and wait for the process to finish
Since this is a system reset, it may end up taking quite some time. Those of you who are stuck with an older system may be looking at a wait time of about 2 or even 4 hours while more powerful systems can complete the process in less than 30 minutes.
If you happen to have a system restore point then you can try that as well. And if nothing works, then our last option is installing Windows from scratch.
Setting up everything from the very beginning can be a tough and time-consuming task. But, sometimes, there really is no other choice.
That’s all we’ve got for now. Let us know what method worked best for you. And if there are any other recommendations, feel free to let us and everyone else know about them as well.
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