How to: Fix a stuck Windows 10 update

Has your PC frozen during an update? Here’s how to get it running again.

The need to maintain your Windows 10 operating system with security patches and updates is absolutely essential. These crucial updates plug gaps in the security outlay and add additional features too. Generally, regularly updating your Windows 10 machine will ensure its smooth functionality.

Windows 10 has a habit of springing updates onto users at highly inconvenient times, however, and can even get stuck during the process. This can be one of the most frustrating aspects of using the operating system, beyond the disruption caused by updating-mid work.

Before following our guide on how to fix this, you should be absolutely certain that your device is genuinely frozen – and isn’t just taking its time. Rushing to get back to your work may end up causing far more problems down the line, but no on-screen activity for a number of hours, for instance, is a fairly good indicator that intervention is needed.

How to fix a stuck Windows 10 update

Step 1. The tried-and-tested Ctrl-Alt-Del may be a quick fix for an update that’s stuck on a particular point. This function will allow you to access the login screen, and sign in as normal, but if not, further action may be required.

Step 2. Restart your PC. Resetting your PC mid-installation is a cardinal sin and expressly warned against by manufacturers, but if your update is genuinely stuck then you haven’t got a lot of options. Use your computer’s physical power or reset button, and remember that you may have to hold it down.

Step 3. Boot into Safe Mode. Accessible from the Startup Settings menu, this mode disables everything but the absolute essentials Windows needs to run, ensuring that any software conflicts that could be interfering with the update are removed. After the update installs, you can restart Windows to exit Safe Mode.

Step 4. Perform a System Restore. In order to safeguard against this type of thing, Windows will usually create a restore point just before applying an update, so you can roll it back if there are any problems. You can access the System Restore function from Safe Mode, or from the Advanced Startup Options if that doesn’t work.

Step 5. Try a Startup Repair. A more in-depth fix than just doing a System Restore, the Startup Repair tool (also accessible from the Advanced Startup Options screen) can sometimes fix underlying issues that may be hampering the update process.

Step 6. Perform a clean Windows installation. This is pretty much the ‘nuclear option’, but if all else fails, you may be forced to simply erase your previous copy of Windows and simply start from scratch. Be warned, though, that this will erase your entire hard drive, so make sure that any vital data is as thoroughly backed up as possible beforehand.