How to Resolve Windows Update Problems in 5 Easy Steps

Joe Keeley 29-02-2016

Windows 10 is constantly receiving updates, some big and some small, usually without a hitch. But problems can happen: the download getting stuck, the update refusing to install, or the system being caught up in a restart loop.


Error messages for failed updates are rarely helpful, which means it can be hard to find a specific solution. We’ve rounded up tips that should resolve the most common problems with Windows Update.

If you’ve got your own stories to share of Windows Update errors or your own helpful tips, please be sure to share them in the comments section.

Is There Definitely a Problem?

Before beginning any troubleshooting steps, ensure that there’s definitely a problem with Windows Update. This will sound silly if your update refuses to download, gets stuck in a reboot loop, or you receive error code 0x80070422 How to Fix Error Code 0x80070422 in Windows 10 We show you how to fix error code 0x80070422 in Windows 10, which is usually related to Windows Update issues. Read More —in these scenarios there’s definitely a problem, so try the help below. But if you’re looking at a progress bar of the download that appears to be stuck, give it some time, especially if you’re on a Wi-Fi connection.

windows update stuck

There have been reports that some updates take over three hours to download, perhaps due to a dodgy server or a temperamental Internet connection. If your progress bar doesn’t appear to be moving, don’t be too impatient. Give it an hour or two and see if it moves any further. If it doesn’t, read on.


1. Windows Update Troubleshooter

This is a very simple step, but it’s a good one to take first. Windows has a built-in troubleshooter that will try to detect and automatically resolve any problems with Windows Update. It’s not always particularly useful, and will sometimes say it’s fixed things when it hasn’t, but it’s worth a shot.

To access it, open this diagnostic file from Microsoft. Alternatively, do a system search for troubleshooting and select the relevant result. A Control Panel window will open. Underneath System and Security, select Fix problems with Windows Update. This will open a new window.

windows update troubleshooter

Click the Advanced link. Then click Run as administrator, as this can help find more issues. Now click Next. It will then begin to detect any problems and automatically repair them. If it finds any, it will list them and whether it was able to resolve them or not. From here you can View detailed information to find out more.


When complete, click Close to end the troubleshooter. You can now attempt to rerun Windows Update — ideally after rebooting your computer Why Does Rebooting Your Computer Fix So Many Issues? "Have you tried rebooting?" It's technical advice that gets thrown around a lot, but there's a reason: it works. Not just for PCs, but a wide range of devices. We explain why. Read More — and see if it truly has resolved your issues. If it hasn’t, don’t worry—next, try Microsoft’s free SetupDiag tool for fixing Windows update errors How to Fix Your Windows 10 Update Errors With SetupDiag Microsoft gives you a free tool to analyze why an upgrade or update failed to complete. Here's how you can use it to fix problems. Read More .

2. Clear Updates Download Folder

If your download is getting stuck during download or refuses to install, it might be that something went wrong with the file itself. Clearing the folder where all of the update files are stored will force Windows Update to download afresh, which can help resolve any problems.

First, press Windows key + R to open Run. Input C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download and click OK to launch to the folder. Now you need to delete everything within the folder, but do not delete the folder itself. To do so, press CTRL + A to select everything and then press Delete to remove the files.

updates download folder


If you find that some files refuse to be removed, try repeating the above process in safe mode. If you need help on that, check our guide on how to boot into Windows 10 safe mode How to Boot in Safe Mode on Windows 10 Facing Windows booting problems? Safe Mode is a built-in Windows 10 troubleshooting feature you should try first. Read More .

Once every file in the Download folder has gone, restart your computer and run Windows Update. It’s worth noting that this troubleshooting step has solved a problem for me in the past, but on my first run of Windows Update, I got an error saying the download couldn’t be completed. I then restarted and tried again, this time with the update going through successfully.

3. Disable Your Antivirus

Normally, your anti-virus software shouldn’t interfere with the update process, but there have been reports that temporarily disabling it can solve problems. Each anti-virus will have its own method of disabling it, so load it up and turn it off. If you can’t see where to do this, explore the Settings or Options area. Alternatively, right-click the icon in your system tray and you may find the option to disable it there.



Zone Alarm is a particular program which has been known to cause issues, but it might happen on others too and it could depend on how strong your security settings are. If disabling your anti-virus does solve Windows Update problems, it might be worth contacting the developer to let them know, so they can patch it.

4. Disconnect Drives, Disable VPNs, and More

Still no luck? We’ve previously written an article about what the common Windows upgrade problems 6 Common Windows Upgrade Issues & How to Fix Them Upgrading Windows 10 can cause a number of complications. We show you what to watch out for and how to prevent or fix issues. Read More are, along with how to fix them. Some of the tips herein can also apply to problems that you’re having with Windows Update.

For example, try disconnecting your media drives, like the DVD drive or SD card reader. You can do this by system searching for device manager, selecting the relevant result, then right-clicking the respective drives and clicking Disable.

windows update problems

If you’re getting a specific error, like 0x80200056 or 0x800F0922, then respectively it might be that your Internet connection got interrupted or you need to disable any VPN service you’ve got running.

If you’re still having no luck, check out the fifth tip below which will let you update your system without using the Windows Update utility.

5. Use the Media Creation Tool

If Windows Update still isn’t working, you can circumvent its use entirely by using the Media Creation Tool. This creates an installation file of Windows 10 and might have been what you used if you upgraded to the operating system in the first place. But don’t worry, this isn’t sending your computer back to factory settings, it’s just forcing an upgrade through a different method.

Although this method should keep all your system settings in place, there’s no point in taking any risk. As such, ensure that you’ve taken a backup 5 Basic Backup Facts Every Windows User Should Know We never tire to remind you to make backups and keep your data safe. If you're wondering what, how often, and where you should back up your files, we have straight forward answers. Read More or created a system image How to Create an ISO Image of Your Windows System Need to backup and restore Windows without backup tools? It's time to learn how to make an ISO image of your Windows PC. Read More before proceeding.

windows 10 setup

First, navigate to Microsoft’s Get Windows 10 page and click the Download tool now button. Save the file to your system and then open it. Accept the license terms. Then select Upgrade this PC now and click Next. Continue to progress through the prompts until you get to the Ready to install page. By default, your personal files and apps should be kept, but click Change what to keep if you want to be sure. When ready, click Install.

Your system will then restart and you’ll find yourself running the latest version of the operating system, complete with all your personal data and the latest and greatest features of Windows The Best New Windows 10 Features in the May 2020 Update Here are all the best new features in the latest updates to Windows 10. Read More .

The Road to Smooth Updates

Windows 10 is the supposedly the last version of the operating system, which means that it’s constantly evolving. But this also means that updates are forced on users, with no ability to opt-out for users of the Home edition. And that probably means it’s more likely for things to go wrong with the updating process.

Hopefully, one of the above troubleshooting steps has solved any problem that you’ve been having with Windows 10. If some of the simpler tips don’t work, you can always rely on the Media Creation Tool. We’ve also shown how to install updates manually using the Microsoft Update catalog and how to manage Reserved Storage on Windows 10 for reliable updates How to Manage Windows 10 Reserved Storage for Reliable Updates The Reserved Storage on Windows 10 is for seamless updates. Here's how to manage it and why you might want to turn it off. Read More .

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Troubleshooting, Windows 10, Windows Upgrade.

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  1. Sian
    February 4, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Tried the clear download folder which bricked my month old laptop, cheers !

  2. Ali akber
    January 7, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    My PC doesn't update windows when I insert windows DVD in room and reboot my PC and I press f9 key then I chose CD room and I press enter key instead update my PC start
    Please help what I do?

  3. Jimmy
    July 31, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    Windows has tried nearly non stop to install 1803 update.
    It usually ends up saying, after hours of trying to install, Something Went Wrong.

  4. Joann Mancuso
    July 29, 2018 at 3:38 am

    I had the autorun.dll error for weeks, couldn't access device manager and every fix I was told to do removed another function spent 220 bucks getting a window 10 disk and had to buy office disc too, the both had digital keys that could not be found couldn't restore or anything, spent an hour and half on phone with Microsoft had wipe the laptop clean then reload, I lost a lot of data most I backed up but I still had to pay 300 bucks for something I already had on there, I would like my money back, how do I get that back and the time

  5. Stu Mountjoy
    March 18, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    I love it when a program I have, for updates, claims there are updates, and then cannot download them cos I am not hooked to the net (at that point in time), LOL.

  6. David Katz
    January 21, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Does this article also apply to Lenovo required updates?

  7. Jami Wright
    December 13, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    Totally knocked me off the internet. Can't get back. Trouble shooting says it can't fix it . Needs internet connection. Ha had it, now don't. Says all devices are hooked up properly. Help please.


  8. Rusty
    September 19, 2016 at 9:18 am

    I finally fixed my Update problem. Had run the MS fix - several times. Finally , did it AFTER unplug Data Line. Ie Disabled It. But the real solution i believe was that some NECESSARY SERVICES had been disabled or set to Manual. I went thru them all and compare them to a Windows 7 PC that did Updates fine. Figure user had fooled with unknown stuff. So first fix step should be to check all settings in Services. I had done a Restore to Factory - I thought. So not check Services. Should be easy to check next time some other idiot has a problem. Always check the basic stuff. Never assume they OK. I also found that the Net Framework was version 2.0 after the factory reset. So installed 6.1 before doing the web fixes.

  9. allan winterburn
    June 16, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    un-install microsoft security essentials if you have up-date problems and reboot it worked for me

  10. Haniman
    April 3, 2016 at 11:10 am

    I have run the Diagnostic Tool & it says the Service Registration is missing or corrupt

  11. Thomas
    March 11, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Unfortunately at a crucial time, I hit the update button for the newest update (10?). anyway it got stuck in this please wait.....and wait.... and wait....I shut down and started it several times, getting the same circle with please wait. Is there anything I can do. My computer at our small business is incapacitated.....and taxes are due by Monday!!!

    • allan winterburn
      June 16, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      i was having problems with updates in windows 7 until i un-installed micosoft security essentials and rebooted,checked for up-dates and got loads

    • M
      October 7, 2016 at 5:02 pm

      Sue msft

  12. Anonymous
    March 4, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Just FYI, There is no point in doing option #2 if you have done option #1. The troubleshooter does a variety of things, besides shutting down services that WinUpdate relies on (and then eventually starting them back up again), it renames C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution.old.


    - Shut down services required by WinUpdate
    - Move \windows\softwaredistribution to \windows\softwaredistribution.old
    - Start up all the services that WinUpdate requires

    The reason it does the first step is that it can't do the move while the services are utilising the directory.

    • Joe Keeley
      March 4, 2016 at 9:26 pm

      Hey Ray! Thanks for the comment. I take your point, but I did have this problem myself and found that step 2 resolved it where step 1 didn't. So it's always worth doing them both.

  13. John
    March 3, 2016 at 12:10 am

    I have Win7 Pro 64bit and have tried and tried to install SP1. I wish i could just bypass right to Win10 but have read that, of course, you have to have SP1. Is this true? I cant get past the Windows Update Error 0x00B0100

  14. Tawney M.
    March 2, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Thank you for this article. Last week I spent an afternoon and evening getting the 2 latest updates to download. I ran the troubleshooter (which worked the two previous times I've had this problem with 10) numerous times and finally it gave me a 'I can't fix it message' and error numbers and chasing them down proved useless - Microsoft sent me in circles. Eventually it said "Install now" - but then said that "Service registration is missing or corrupt". It did not immediately dawn on me what that meant, but I had always used a local account and switched to the Microsoft account and it worked. So I have not switched back to local, but feel it will probably happen again so you have given me some extra steps to try for the next time.

    • Joe Keeley
      March 2, 2016 at 11:30 pm

      Very welcome, Tawney. Glad that switching to the Microsoft account solved your problems - thanks for sharing that tip. Hopefully the advice outlined above will be helpful should this occur again, to save you switching account types.

  15. Bruce
    March 2, 2016 at 2:38 am

    It is only up to 13% but this looks like the first successful update my Home Edition has ever had. Not that I haven't tried because there were nearly 9000 files and folders in my Download Folder. Wow, Joe you are genius!

    One quick question... are all Windows editions this difficult to fix? This is my first experience of actually using and maintaining a Windows machine at home.

    It's up to 49% now... looking good.

    • Joe Keeley
      March 2, 2016 at 11:29 pm

      I wouldn't say genius, Bruce! ;) But so glad to hear that clearing the Download folder seems to have resolved your problem. I hope it got to 100% and installed okay.

      In my experience, all Windows operating systems have their own quirks that can require troubleshooting to get round. But I think the benefits of Windows far outweigh the negatives.

      • Bruce
        March 2, 2016 at 11:50 pm

        Yes Joe, it is up-to-date and running fine and seems faster. So thanks for that.

        As far as Windows quirks go, I guess that I'm just new to the OS. I am back at school after 40 years and needed a Windows machine to run a fancy stats package When I heard that Windows 10 was a rolling release I thought, " Great, I'm in". But nothing is quite as simple as seems.

        But now things seem to be running well so all is good.

        • Joe Keeley
          March 2, 2016 at 11:57 pm

          You're very welcome! Happy that the article helped.

          I'll definitely say that Windows will get easier to use as you use it more, like all things. It's such a complex operating system that many people will often only scratch the surface of what it can offer them. To toot our own horn, be sure to check out our other Windows articles and see if they'll assist you: //

          Regardless, happy to know that things are running well. Happy Windows-ing!

  16. Anonymous
    March 1, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Why don't I find these articles when I actually have a problem. The various things I tried when I had the problem never worked. I eventually, for other reasons, did a complete wipe and reinstall of Windows 10. Now I have no issues.

    The Update troubleshooter didn't work and this is the first time I've heard of the Downloads folder. I don't use an anti-virus or VPN, so that will never be the cause. Due to limiting internet speed and bandwidth, using the Media Creation Tool is avoided as much as possible.

    • Joe Keeley
      March 1, 2016 at 7:14 pm

      Sorry to hear that, ringhalg! Hopefully you don't have the problem again in the future, but if you do then you know where to come.