Troubleshoot problems updating Windows 10

In Windows 10, you decide when and how to get the latest updates to keep your device running smoothly and securely. This article will help you answer questions and troubleshoot common problems with your Windows 10 update.

If you're looking for info on how to activate Windows 10 or to verify that your installation of Windows 10 is activated, see Activate Windows 10.

Have issues installing Windows updates? Start here.

Your device may not be able to update to the latest version of Windows 10 for a few reasons. The following tips can help you pinpoint the issue affecting your device.

Before you begin, make sure your device is plugged into a power source and connected to the internet. Then, try the steps listed below to get your PC to update.

Some updates require administrator access. If your account doesn't have administrator access, see Create a local user or administrator account in Windows 10. Or if someone else at home or in your office has an administrator account on your device, try asking them to install the updates.

Important: 

  • Before trying any of the solutions below, make sure you back up your personal files. You can use File History to back up your files to another drive, or insert a USB drive and use File Explorer to drag and copy important files to the USB drive. If you’re signing into Windows with a Microsoft account, your system settings will be automatically restored after updating, once you’re connected to the internet.

  • You can also back up your files with OneDrive. For more info, go to Back up your Documents, Pictures, and Desktop folders with OneDrive.

Make sure that your device has enough space. Your device requires at least 16 GB of free space to upgrade a 32-bit OS, or 20 GB for a 64-bit OS. If your device has a small hard drive, you may need to insert a USB drive to update it.

If your PC is running low on storage, try the techniques at Free up drive space in Windows 10.

Many updates require you to restart your device. Save your work and close all open applications. Then, select Start  > Power  , and select either Update and restart or Update and shut down.

Even if you have downloaded some updates, there may be more available. After trying the preceding steps, run Windows Update again by selecting Start > Settings  > Update & Security > Windows Update  > Check for updates. Download and install any new updates.

Check for updates in Settings

Remove any external storage devices and drives, docks, and other hardware plugged into your device that aren't needed for basic functionality. Then try to run updates again and see if this resolved your issue. If it didn't, continue to the next tip.

If you've added hardware to your device, check for third-party driver updates and installation instructions on the hardware manufacturer’s website. Update any drivers, then try to run updates again and see if this resolved your issue. If it didn't, continue to the next tip.

  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type device manager, then select Device Manager from the list of results.

  2. In the window that appears, look for any device with a yellow exclamation mark next to it. (You may have to select each category to view the list of devices.) Select the device name.

  3. Select Action, and then choose either Update driver or Uninstall to correct the errors.

Common troubleshooting questions

If you are receiving an error message with a specific error code, try running the Windows Update Troubleshooter. If that doesn't resolve the issue, see Fix Windows Update errors and follow the instructions to help resolve common update issues.

The time required to download and install updates depends on connection speed, network settings, and the size of the update. If the installation remains stuck at the same percentage, try checking for updates again or running the Windows Update Troubleshooter.

To check for updates, select Start  > Settings  > Update & Security  > Windows Update  > Check for updates. 

To get help, in the search box on the task bar, type get help, then select Get Help from the list of results. To leave feedback if you run into further problems, in the search box on the taskbar, type feedback hub, then select Feedback Hub from the list of results. 

Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever, and we recommend you stay updated to protect your PC from security risks and to keep it running smoothly. However, you can temporarily pause updates as well as schedule a restart to install updates at a time that's convenient for you.
Learn how to temporarily pause updates 
Find out how to schedule a restart to install updates at a convenient time

You will only receive a notification when it’s time to restart your computer to apply the installed updates.

Tips: 

  • If you need to know where you left off in your work after an update, use Timeline to jump back in.

  • To get started with Timeline, select Task View on the taskbar, or press the Windows logo key +Tab and select the activity you want to resume.

Monthly quality updates on Windows 10 are quite small and have a minimal impact on data usage. Feature updates typically happen twice per year, and you can control when to install them. They require more data but are less frequent.

If you’re on a metered connection, some updates for Windows won’t be installed automatically. Metered connections in Windows 10

Your computer might be slow for a number of reasons, but updating to the latest version of Windows 10 can improve its performance. For help with a slow computer, see Tips to improve PC performance in Windows 10.

If you're having trouble finding your files after an upgrade, see Find lost files after the upgrade to Windows 10 for other things to try.

Advanced

Warning: Microsoft only recommends trying the procedures in this section if you're comfortable working in the command line. These procedures require administrator permissions on your device. 

  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type command prompt, then select Run as administrator from the list of options. Select Yes. Next, in the window that appears, type the following commands one at a time, including the spaces as shown. After you type each command, press Enter. Then let each command complete before you type the next command.

    net stop bits

    net stop wuauserv

    ren %systemroot%\softwaredistribution softwaredistribution.bak

    ren %systemroot%\system32\catroot2 catroot2.bak

    net start bits

    net start wuauserv

  2. After all these commands are completed, close the Command Prompt window and restart your computer.

In some instances, third-party antivirus or security software can cause errors when you try to update to the latest version of Windows 10. You can temporarily uninstall this software, update your PC, and then reinstall the software after your device is up to date. We recommend using third-party antivirus or security software that’s compatible with the latest version of Windows 10. You can check compatibility by visiting the software manufacturer’s website.

Note: Before uninstalling software, make sure you know how to reinstall your programs and that you have any necessary product keys.

In the search box on the taskbar, type command prompt, and then select Run as administrator from the list of options. Select Yes.  In the window that appears, type the following command, including the space as shown:
chkdsk/f C:
and then press Enter. Repairs will automatically start on your hard drive, and you’ll be asked to restart your device.

A clean restart starts Windows with a minimal set of drivers and startup programs. This helps eliminate software conflicts that occur when you install a program or an update that may cause issues updating your PC.
Learn how to do a clean restart

  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type command prompt, then select Run as administrator from the list of options.

  2. In the window that appears, type this command including spaces as shown:
    DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth

  3. Press Enter. When the command operation has run successfully, you'll see a confirmation message from Command Prompt that says, “The restore operation completed successfully” or “The operation completed successfully”.  
    Note: If you don't see a confirmation message, retype the command and try again.

  4. Next, type this command, including the space as shown:
    sfc /scannow

  5. Press Enter. Wait until the sfc scan verification reaches 100% completion, and then close Command Prompt.

  6. Try running the Windows Update again.

The command prompt showing: DISM/Onlin /Cleanup-Image/RestoreHealth

Learn how to repair a Windows image

Go to the software download page and select Download tool now to download the clean installation tool. Make sure to carefully read the notes on the software download page before using the tool.

Still stuck?

Contact Microsoft support if you continue to have problems with your Windows updates. 

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