When Windows Update Fails, This Is How You Fix It

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The recent Windows 8.1 August Update blindsided many users with issues. Some experienced BSODs or black screens, while others found themselves stuck in an infinite reboot loop.

If you’ve been negatively affected by a Windows Update, here’s a quick list of troubleshooting steps that will help you restore Windows to a functional state.

Windows Crashes With A Blue Screen Of Death

A BSOD typically hints to a hardware problem or faulty drivers, but can also be caused by third-party software. We have previously shown you how to troubleshoot a BSOD in Windows 8.

Windows 8 BSOD

The August Update BSOD

After applying the Windows August Update, many Windows 7 and 8 users experienced BSOD crashes with a 0x50 Stop error message. According to Microsoft Community member xformer, KB2982791 is the culprit. This update causes Win32k.sys to crash when the font cache is not correctly maintained.

According to Microsoft, August Update BSOD crashes are caused by the following updates, which subsequently have been disabled:

  • KB2982791, a security update for kernel-mode drivers.
  • KB2970228, the update introducing support for the Russion Ruble currency symbol.
  • KB2975719, the August Update rollup for Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • KB2975331, the August Update rollup for Windows RT, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2012.

How To Fix It

A workaround proposed by Microsoft Community member rvuerinckx recommends to boot from a recovery disk and remove the following file:

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C:\Windows\System32\FNTCACHE.DAT

In a response, community member Laurens (NLD) posted a step-by-step explanation on how to remove the file via the command prompt. Briefly, insert your Windows 7 or 8 installation or recovery disk and boot from the disk. In Windows 7, go to restore options, choose repair tools, and select command prompt. In Windows 8, go to troubleshoot and advanced options, and select command prompt from here.

Type the following command:

del %windir%\system32\fntcache.dat

When the file is gone, you should be able to boot into Windows. Microsoft Support says this is only a temporary fix and they explain how to remove a registry key for a permanent solution. Please see the mitigations for known issue 3 for details. After removing the offending updates (see below), you can restore the registry file, the support page explains how this is done.

I Can’t Boot Into Windows Anymore

When a Windows Update is so bad that you can no longer boot the system, try booting into Safe Mode to remove it.

To boot into Safe Mode in Windows 7, hit the F8 key while the computer is booting up and before the Windows logo can be seen. You know you hit the right moment, when you see the advanced boot options screen.

Windows 7 Safe Mode

When Windows 8 or 8.1 crashes repetitively, it should at some point boot into Automatic Repair. Select Advanced options to access Safe Mode.

Automatic Repair

You can manually boot into Safe Mode by pressing the SHIFT key while clicking Restart and subsequently click Restart under Sartup Settings, found under Troubleshoot and Advanced options.

Once you are in Safe Mode, you can navigate to Windows Update via the Control Panel and remove the most recent updates, see instructions below.

Uninstall Windows Updates In Windows

Uninstalling updates from within Windows is very simple. Briefly, navigate to Installed Updates (View installed updates under Windows Update or Programs and Features) in the Control Panel, select the problematic update, and click the Uninstall button or right-click it and select Uninstall.

Uninstall Windows Update

Uninstall Windows Update Via Command Prompt

When an issue with a Windows Update prevents your computer from booting, not even into Safe Mode, things get tricky. You will need a Windows boot or recovery disk to launch into repair tools (Windows 7) or advanced options (Windows 8), from where you can access the command prompt.

Assuming your system drive is C, type the following command to find the package names of the offending updates:

dism /image:C:\ /get-packages

Search the results for the update that needs to be removed and note down the package name. Then use the following command:

dism /image:C:\ /remove-package/PackageName:Package_for_insert_exact_package_name_here

Example: dism /image:C:\ /remove-package/PackageName:Package_for_KB2976897~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~6.1.1.0

After removing the update, try to reboot and fingers crossed all will be well.

Hide Windows Updates

Sometimes, updates are known to cause problems before you apply them. Or maybe you don’t accidentally want to re-install an update that made your computer crash. Navigate to Windows Update in the Control panel, right-click the troublesome update, and select Hide update.

Hide Windows Update

To restore a hidden update, click the respective link in the Windows Update sidebar.

For a full walkthrough with screenshots of the process, see Windows SevenForums.

None Of The Above Works

The issues you’re experiencing may go deeper than a Windows Update bug. Please consult our guide on troubleshooting Windows 8 crashes. Windows 8 boot issues can be easy to resolve, but an infinite reboot loop may require a system recovery. If you’re able to boot into Windows 8 Advanced Startup Options, you can try to repair, restore, refresh, or reset your PC.

Troubleshoot Windows 8

Has Windows Update Caused You Pain?

Have you ever had to resolve issues caused by a Windows Update in the past? How did you do it?

Let’s hear your experiences in the comments!

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Comments (68)
  • alexander ivanov

    Hello Tina,

    First of all, thank you so much for your great article – it is the most comprehensive piece of information that I have found while trying to resolve my issue!

    Sadly, I am not completely done yet and I was hoping that you would be able to help…

    Yesterday a Windows update of the start menu button installed itself even after I repeatedly declined its installation. After the restart of the system I am stuck in an infinite restart loop, where nothing works – I cannot even boot in Safe Mode! Everything leads me back to the blue screen that informs me that my system is encountering a problem and needs to restart…

    I have gotten furthest by trying to uninstall the latest windows update. However, I cannot find its name – the listing command shows me an error, and I could not find the name anywhere online.

    Any ideas where the update name may be found, or what other solution I could try? Unfortunately I am on a business trip and do not have the startup disc with me. I have tried accessing the BIOS, but found no help there.

    Thanks so much again and apologies for the long post!

    • Tina Sieber

      Dear Alexander,

      Which version of Windows is this? It sounds like Windows 8.1.

      How were you able to try and uninstall an update if you’re not able to boot into Safe Mode?

      Unfortunately, we don’t provide tech support beyond the article we publish at MakeUseOf. I’d turn to a forum to ask for help. This article has a summary of the places we recommend: Get Free Windows Support From These Experts & Communities

      Hope they can help you sort out the issue!

  • Kevin

    I shut windows 8.1 down on my laptop and selected shut down and restart. It has been caught in update 1 of 1 for 5 hrs…… Anyone else experience this?

    • Tina

      I have seen that before. After waiting that long, I’d eventually risk a force / cold reboot. Chances are it got stuck and has no way out.

  • Andy

    “I wonder, what makes Linux users read articles about Windows?”

    Usually because they boot into ‘Doze for the first time in months to do one of the 2 or 3 things it’s still useful for – like open a password-protected Orifice document (about the only thing left LibreOffice doesn’t Just Work for), or defrag an NTFS filesystem – only to discover the OS decided to eat bits of itself after an “Update”…

    In my case mysteriously leaving itself without keyboard or mouse drivers, so I had to revert to a saved restore point…

    ‘Doze is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Better software exists for almost everything.

  • robert

    I’ve gotten into safe mode but now it wont let me uninstall the updates, i can’t even hide them because i’m in safe mode, and it’s impossible for me to log on without safemode.

    • Tina

      What happens when you try to uninstall from Safe Mode?

      There also the option to remove an Update via the command prompt, see above.

  • Joshua

    What should one do if when unistalling the updates, it won’t let me and an error occurs inturupting the uninstall?

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.