What to Do When Windows Update Gets Stuck or is Frozen !!

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Most of the time, Windows Update does its job with little attention from us. While we might check and install updates manually from time to time, most Windows 10 computers are configured to apply important updates automatically while older versions usually apply these fixes the night of Patch Tuesday.

Reasons Of Freezing Updates !

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Most often, these types of problems are due to a software conflict or a preexisting issue that simply wasn’t brought to light until the Windows updates started installing. Much more rarely they’re caused by a mistake on Microsoft’s part regarding the update itself. There’s an actual issue with Windows that can cause Windows Update installations to freeze like this but it’s only applicable to Windows Vista and only if SP1 hasn’t yet been installed.

If your computer fits that description, install Windows Vista SP1 or later or this update to solve the problem.

Steps To Fix ??

  1. Press Ctrl-Alt-Del. In some situations, the Windows update(s) may be hung at a very particular part of the installation process and you could be presented with your Windows login screen after executing the Ctrl-Alt-Delkeyboard command.If so, log on as you normally would and let the updates continue to install successfully.Note: If your computer restarts after the Ctrl-Alt-Del, read the second Note in Step 2 below. If nothing happens (most likely) then move on to Step 2.
  2. Restart your computer, using either the reset button or by powering it off and then back on using the power button. Hopefully, Windows will start normally and finish installing the updates.I realize that you’re probably explicitly told notto do this by the message on the screen, but if the Windows update installation is truly frozen then you have no other choice but to hard-reboot.Tip: Depending on how Windows and BIOS/UEFI are configured, you may have to hold down the power button for several seconds before the computer will turn off. On a tablet or laptop, removing the battery may be necessary.Note: If you’re using Windows 10 or Windows 8, and you’re taken to the sign-in screen after the restart, try tapping or clicking the power icon on the bottom-right and choosing Update and Restart, if available.Note: If you’re automatically taken to the Advanced Boot Options or Startup Settings menu after restarting, choose Safe Mode and see the comments in Step 3 below.
  3. Start Windows in Safe Mode. This special diagnostic mode of Windows only loads the minimum drivers and service that Windows absolutely needs so if another program or service is conflicting with one of the Windows updates, the install might finish up just fine.If the Windows updates do install successfully and you continue to Safe Mode, just restart from there to enter Windows normally.
  4. Complete a System Restore to undo the changes made so far by the incomplete installation of the Windows updates. Since you can’t access Windows normally, try doing this from Safe Mode. See the link in Step 2 if you’re not sure how to start in Safe Mode.Note: During the System Restore, be sure to choose the restore point created by Windows just prior to the update installation.Assuming a restore point was made and System Restore is successful, your computer should be returned to the state it was in before the updates started. If this problem occurred after automatic updating, like what happens on Patch Tuesday, be sure to change Windows Update settings so this problem doesn’t reoccur on its own.
  5. Try System Restore from Advanced Startup Options (Windows 10 & 8) orSystem Recovery Options (Windows 7 & Vista) if you’re not able to access Safe Mode or if the restore failed from Safe Mode. Since these menus of tools are available from “outside” of Windows, you can try this even if Windows is completely unavailable.Important: System Restore is only available from outside of Windows if you’re using Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, or Windows Vista. This option is not available in Windows XP.
  6. Start your computer’s “automatic” repair process. While a System Restore is a more direct way of undoing changes, in this case a Windows update, sometimes a more comprehensive repair process is in order.In Windows 10 and Windows 8, try a Startup Repair. If that doesn’t do the trick, try the Reset This PC process (the non – destructive option, of course).In Windows 7 and Windows Vista, try the Startup Repair process.In Windows XP, try the Repair Install process.
  7. Test your computer’s memory. It’s possible that failing RAM could be causing the patch installations to freeze. Luckily memory is really easy to test.
  8. Update BIOS. An outdated BIOS isn’t a common cause for this problem, but it’s possible.
  9. Clean install Windows. A clean install involves completely erasing the hard drive that Windows is installed on and then installing Windows again from scratch on that same drive.Note: It might seem likely that reinstalling Windows, and then these same exact Windows updates, will cause the same problem but that isn’t usually what happens. Since most lock-up issues caused by updates by Microsoft are actually software conflicts, a clean install of Windows, followed promptly by the installation of all available updates, usually results in a perfectly working computer.
  10. If you somehow succeed in login then you should try Windows Update Troubleshooter which can be downloaded using links in “Downloads” section.

Please let me know if you’ve had success escaping a hung Windows update installation using a method I don’t have included in the troubleshooting above. I’d be happy to include it here.


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Applies To

Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and more.

Still Having Freezing Issues Related to Windows Update?

Windows 10 updates seem to get stuck much more often because Microsoft pushes those fixes out more regularly.

Be sure to let me know exactly what’s happening, what updates you’re installing (if you know) and what steps, if any, you’ve already taken to try to fix the problem.


Windows Update Troubleshooter.zip [ 1.1 Mb] /  Mirror

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