Fix: Windows 10 Won’t Update

Have you tried everything but Windows 10 won't update for some reason? In this guide, we show you why this is happening and how to fix it.

Your personal computer would be completely unusable if it didn’t have an operating system. Fortunately, there are now quite a few options available to choose from.

Some leading examples include Linux, Mac OS, Ubuntu, Fedora, and, of course, the world’s most widely-used OS, Microsoft’s Windows.

Operating systems are very complex, so it isn’t uncommon to encounter a few bugs and problems.

In this guide, we will help you overcome the problem of Windows 10 not updating.

Table of ContentsShow

The Problem Explained

Operating system updates are very important, as they improve the software’s security, optimization, and overall performance. Some updates also include interface changes, which result in a better overall user experience.

Windows 10 automatic updates enabled
The Windows 10 Updates Feature is explained.

For the curious: You can find the Windows 10 update history on Microsoft’s official website, along with all the changelogs and development release notes.  

All these improvements probably sound great, and they are often released enough to keep the OS modern and in keeping with the latest trends. However, what if the updates fail to download and install on your system?

Windows 10 wont update problem
A Reddit user addressing the Windows 10 won’t update problem.

If this happens, it means you’re left with an older version of Windows, which may not be as secure and user-friendly as the latest one. You should prioritize finding a solution for the problem and updating to the latest version as soon as possible.

The Windows 10 won’t update problem is a concern for many users, and the issue has been discussed on multiple forums and websites, including this particular Reddit thread.

However, you shouldn’t expect to find a single answer that solves every problem related to Windows 10 updates failing. There are many possible reasons for the problem occurring.

The best strategy is to troubleshoot and search for the specific error code provided in the logs. However, this can take a lot of time.    

To speed things up, we have done all the necessary homework, so you don’t have to. In the following sections, you can find proven methods to overcome the Windows won’t update issue.

Fix 1: Restart Your PC

This issue can sometimes be solved by simply restarting your PC. This is the easiest solution and shouldn’t require more than a few minutes of your time.

Windows 10 restart

It’s entirely possible that the Windows update will automatically begin installing when you restart your PC. When your system boots up, you may have the latest version of Windows 10 installed.

If this doesn’t fix the issue, there are other methods you can try. Read the following sections.

Fix 2: Make Storage Space For The Updates

The Windows 10 update may be failing because you have insufficient storage space on your main disk drive. This is one of the most common reasons why people report Windows updates failing.

Note that Windows updates can only be installed on the same partition where your OS is installed.

making storage space for Windows 10 updates

For example, if you have Windows installed on your C drive, and that drive is currently full, it doesn’t matter if you have a lot of free space on your E drive because Windows is not installed there.

You can free up space by moving apps, images, and games to your other disk(s) or uninstalling something you don’t need from your main partition. Some users prefer to do this by opening the list of installed apps & features on Windows 10, while others prefer to use third-party storage-analyzing programs such as Wiztree.

If you don’t have many apps installed, yet your main partition is cluttered, it could be because of a few reasons:

  • There’s a pileup of cache data on your disk.
  • You have multiple older versions of Windows on your disk.

You can resolve this problem using the built-in Disk Cleanup function on Windows 10. If you’re unsure how to do that, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Windows File Explorer and locate the disk you want to perform the cleanup on.
  2. Right-click it and select Properties from the list of options.
    right clicking and selecting Properties for disk to clean up
  3. Once the properties menu opens, select Disk Cleanup. You will find it under the General tab.
    selecting Disk Cleanup
  4. Select the items you want to remove and click OK to initiate the process.
    performing Disk Cleanup
  5. Once Windows has finished cleaning up the files, click Clean Up System Files and then More Options. Here you will have the option to delete old restore points.
    Windows 10 Clean Up System Files
    Windows 10 Disk Cleanup restore points

Note: If you already have enough space (the storage bar indicator is no longer red), we recommend keeping your restore points. If there’s nothing else you consider unimportant enough to delete from the drive, you can remove the restoration points and shadow copies to free up a few more gigabytes of space on your disk.

It’s always better to free up storage space by moving images or apps to a different drive than to delete system files.

Once you have ensured you have enough space for the update, restart your PC and see if the setup completes. If storage space was the issue, the update should now install successfully.  

Fix 3: Ensure Your Internet Connection Is Not The Problem

Sometimes Windows 10 updates are unable to download because your internet connection is failing. This is rarely the case, but it can happen, so be sure to check that your internet is performing as it should.

You can use websites such as Speedtest by Ookla to run a quick benchmark. If your internet displays very poor download speeds or you frequently lose your connection, this is probably why the update can’t be downloaded and installed.

A solution for this problem is to contact your ISP (Internet Service Provider) for help with the issue or to try using open Wi-Fi in your area to download the update.

Fix 4: Use System Restore To Revert To A Different Version

If you haven’t deleted your system restore points, you can use the restoration function to “roll back” to a previous version. You can then attempt to download and install the latest Windows update again.

This method has worked for many users and might also help you. To revert to a previous Windows version, follow the steps below:

  1. Click the Windows Search Bar, type in Control Panel, and then press Enter on your keyboard.
  2. The Control Panel window will open. Select System and Security from the list of options.
    System and Security in Windows 10 Control Panel
  3. In the panel that opens, click File History. Then, in the bottom left corner, click Recovery.
    clicking Recovery in Windows 10 File History
  4. Click Open System Restore from the list of options. For this to work, you must have had the feature enabled previously.
  5. Progress through the setup by clicking Next, and choose a restore point when asked. Confirm your choice and click Finish to begin the process.

Wait until Windows restores, and then use your operating system normally. You should now be able to update to the latest version without any further issues.

If this doesn’t work, try rolling back to an even earlier restoration point and then attempt the update again.  

Fix 5: Boot Windows In Safe Mode To Clear The Update’s Cache Files

If a Windows update fails, the cache files will often be left behind. These files, in addition to the other partly-installed ones, are likely unusable. Some users call these files corrupt.

This happens when a computer shuts down unexpectedly due to a power outage or a system crash in the middle of a Windows update.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for this problem. Follow the steps below:

Open File Explorer and find your C drive. If Windows is installed on that drive, there should be a folder named Windows. Inside it, there is a folder called Software Distribution that you need to open and delete all the files from.

Note: These are only the temporary files that Windows creates when starting the update process. You won’t break anything by removing them from your PC. Windows will simply create them again when you initiate the update.

Then, follow the step-by-step guide below.

  1. Open the Windows search bar and type in Command Prompt. Right-click the app’s icon and select Run as administrator.
    right clicking Windows 10 Command Prompt and selecting Run as Administrator
  2. Once the command prompt has opened, type in net stop wuauserv and press enter on your keyboard. Then, type net stop bits and press Enter once more.

Now the update should be “unstuck” and complete normally without failing the next time you try it. If that doesn’t work, there’s one more method you can try, so read the following section to learn more.

Fix 6: Do A Windows Reset

Performing a Windows Reset on a modern OS such as Windows 10 is much easier than it was previously on older operating systems.

However, this should be your last resort if nothing else works, as the process requires a long time and is considered the most drastic measure.

To reset your Windows, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the Windows search bar and type in Settings. On the settings panel, click Update and Security.
  2. On the left-side menu, you will see a list of different sections. Click Recovery to access the panel where you will initiate the reset process.
  3. Click Get Started, which is the first option in the Recovery panel. Proceed through the setup, which is straightforward, and you should get the reset done quickly, depending on your system’s performance.

This won’t get rid of your personal files unless you want everything gone from your disks for a clean reinstall. In the majority of cases, you won’t need to delete a single personal file to get a Windows update moving again.   

Conclusion

It’s considered a security threat to run an outdated version of Windows, which is why an update failing can be so concerning for PC users.

Fortunately, you should now know how to overcome the problem by using the methods listed in this guide.

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Bojan Veselinovikj
LinkedIn

Bojan is a video-game developer and a tech enthusiast. Combining these two passions allow him to keep you informed on everything that's new in this fast-paced digital world.