How To Force An Update On Your Windows Phone

Christian Cawley 26-04-2012

force windows phone updateWhen it was first released in October 2010, Windows Phone was a new mobile platform that looked and felt great, but wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders. Despite the then current state of the smartphone market, the decision was made to release a mobile operating system that was missing a few key features and APIs.


Subsequent updates have overcome these shortcomings, but if your Windows Phone hasn’t been blessed with the NoDo or Mango updates as yet, then you’re clearly missing out on some excellent functionality, such as Xbox Live multiplayer gaming and copy and paste (to name but two).

Depending upon where in the world you’re situated, your Windows Phone may or may not be able to download these updates. However don’t worry – there is a way of forcing the update to install on your phone.

How Updates Are Distributed

Updates for Windows Phone are created by the development team at Microsoft, before being distributed to the device manufacturers. At this stage device-specific bugs should be detected and resolved, before the handsets – by HTC, Nokia, LG, Samsung, Dell and others – are shipped to the relevant networks for further testing with branded software.

After testing is completed and signed off, the updates are then distributed from Microsoft through the Zune desktop software. This manages the update, creating a backup of the Windows Phone and downloading the new version of the software.

It seems pretty straightforward doesn’t it? The problem some users face, however, is that although the updates are supposedly distributed in a logical fashion on a network-by-network basis, some devices seem to be overlooked. This might be due to a number of factors, such as not regularly checking for updates or having update detection disabled.


The Standard Update Procedure

To begin updating your Windows Phone under normal circumstances, you would need to open the Settings > Phone Update screen to check if there are any updates available. Alternatively, connect your phone to your PC and when the Zune desktop client opens, find your way to Settings > Phone > Update.

force windows phone update

The next step would then be to click the Update Phone button in order to proceed. At this stage a backup of your phone’s data is taken, before the update is downloaded and applied. Any problems with the upgrade can be addressed later – if the update fails then the earlier version and your user data can be restored.

Forcing The Update

So what process is required for updating your Windows Phone when the update isn’t detected?


The first thing you must do is check that there is indeed an update due. This is best done by either checking with your mobile carrier/network or using Microsoft’s own Windows Phone webpages.

force update on windows phone

Once this has been done and you have confirmed that there should indeed be an update distributed to your phone, double check that the update isn’t already installed. This is important as new devices should ship with the most recent version of Windows Phone. You can check this by opening Settings > About > More Information, and cross reference the version number with the details listed in the link above.

When you’re happy that it is time to force the update, you must do so by following these steps:

  1. Make sure your phone is connected to your computer, and that the Zune software is running.
  2. Go to Settings > Phone > Update and as the check is made, immediately disconnect your computer from the Internet/local network.
  3. Wait a minute or so, and notification of an update should appear in Zune.
  4. Reconnect your computer to the Internet and proceed to update your phone, following the instructions displayed by the Zune software.

force windows phone update

This process can be repeated if the only update added is an interim one; the big updates naturally include the most features.

Is Forcing the Update Safe?

As you can see, forcing an update isn’t dangerous to the device. Microsoft’s updates for Windows Phone are distributed on a network-by-network basis from Microsoft’s own servers, following the initial build and testing that takes place by the networks.

What this basically means is that you can bypass the waiting game and force the update, safe in the knowledge that the update is legitimate and suitable for your device and the network that you will be using it on.


Let us know in the comments if you have had any experience of forcing an update on your Windows phone and if so, how it went.

Related topics: Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, Windows Phone 7.

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  1. Mirza Sheraz
    June 27, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    I can't connect my Lumia 525 WP8 to Zune What should I do.

    • Christian Cawley
      June 28, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      Unfortunately Zune is for Windows Phone 7. This article doesn't apply to Windows Phone 8 or later.

  2. Mirza Sheraz
    June 27, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    I can't connect my Lumia 525 WP8 To Zune. :(

  3. resolve_my_problem
    March 2, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    thank you but i get error 8000FFFF

  4. microsoft office for mac 2011
    May 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Very helpful information particularly the remaining part :) I deal with such information a lot. I used to be seeking this particular information for a long time. Thanks and good luck.

  5. mac rosetta
    May 9, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Thanks , I have recently been searching for info about this subject for ages and yours is the best I have found out till now. However, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you positive in regards to the source?|What i do not understood is in fact how you're now not actually much more neatly-liked than you might be right now. You're very intelligent.

  6. Peter S
    April 26, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Ended up doing it when the NoDo update was released for the Samsung Focus. It can work really well, but it depends on a couple of things. The update has to be available for your device in some manner. Your carrier also has to release the upgrade or you have to debrand your device (often after somehow unlocking it and installing a registry editor). Forcing an update will do absolutely nothing to get an update that doesn't exist for your device. (e.g. Trying to get the post Mango updates if you're on AT&T with a Gen 1 device will fail.)

    Forcing an update does work if the update is available, but being slowly rolled out. Great way to jump on the early bandwagon in that case.