IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to fix a stuck Windows 10 update

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

Windows 10 is the world's most popular desktop operating system, but don't let that fact fool you into thinking it is without problems. It's designed to receive consistent fuss-free updates, all of which are usually automatic and go through with little input from the user. Be this, dear reader isn't always as simple as it can be. 

There are, unfortunately, times when a Windows 10 update can get stuck. It may initially just appear to be running slow, but if it is taking an age, it could have stalled midway through its cycle. This is one of modern life's inevitable frustrations.
It has the knack of occurring at the worst opportune moment, such as right before an important work meeting or just before you start a shift. The key is to not panic and chuck it across the room because there is always a fix. Don't go switching the device on and off - this is 100% not the time for that - as it could make the problem worse, even bricking your device. 

The first course of action is to take a deep breath and then fully assess with the update is really stuck or just slow as a snail. Some updates, it's worth remembering, can be pretty large.  Once you've worked that out, only then can you move on to our top tips... 

How to fix a stuck Windows 10 update

Step 1. Everyone’s old friend Ctrl-Alt-Del could be a quick fix for an update that is stuck at a particular point. This shortcut will allow you to access the login screen, and sign in like normal, but if not, more action might be needed.

Step 2. Restart your computer. Resetting your PC during installation is considered to be a cardinal sin and explicitly warned against by manufacturers, but if your update is definitely stuck then you don’t have a lot of options. Utilise your computer’s physical power or reset button, and bear in mind you might have to hold it down for a few seconds.

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.

The Windows 10 safe mode user interface

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.

Featured Resources

Activation playbook: Deliver data that powers impactful, game-changing campaigns

Bringing together data and technology to drive better business outcomes

Free Download

In unpredictable times, a data strategy is key

Data processes are crucial to guide decisions and drive business growth

Free Download

Achieving resiliency with Everything-as-a-Service (XAAS)

Transforming the enterprise IT landscape

Free Download

What is contextual analytics?

Creating more customer value in HR software applications

Free Download

Recommended

Windows 10 Pro vs Home vs Enterprise: Which is best for your business?
operating systems

Windows 10 Pro vs Home vs Enterprise: Which is best for your business?

27 May 2022
How to wipe a laptop easily and securely
Security

How to wipe a laptop easily and securely

20 May 2022
17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

20 May 2022
How to factory reset Windows 10
operating systems

How to factory reset Windows 10

13 May 2022

Most Popular

16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

13 May 2022
Linux-based Cheerscrypt ransomware found targeting VMware ESXi servers
ransomware

Linux-based Cheerscrypt ransomware found targeting VMware ESXi servers

26 May 2022
Open source packages with millions of installs hacked to harvest AWS credentials
hacking

Open source packages with millions of installs hacked to harvest AWS credentials

24 May 2022