25 Fixes: Windows 10 Won’t Install or Download Updates

Windows 10 wont install or download updates

Windows Update pack performance and security improvements for your Windows 10. They are essential to keep your computer working smoothly and securely. The process of Windows Update periodically checks for updates and downloads and installs them without disturbing your work hours (in most cases).

But if updating your Windows has become a headache because your Windows 10 won’t install or download updates, this guide is for you. These fixes also work for Windows 10 stuck on downloading or installing updates.

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Causes of Problems with Windows 10 Updates

  • Lack of hard drive space
  • Multiple updates queued
  • Poor internet connection
  • A critical update needs to restart your computer
  • Windows Update is paused/incorrect settings
  • External devices causing problems
  • Corrupted system files
  • PC is infected by a virus/malware
  • Antivirus has blocked Windows Update

Working Fixes for the Windows 10 Won’t Install or Download Updates Issue

  1. Restart Your Computer
  2. Run Windows Update Troubleshooter
  3. Restart Your Router or Modem
  4. Check Your Windows Update Settings
  5. Make Sure Your Hard Drive Has Enough Disk Space
  6. Disconnect External Storage Devices to Fix the Windows 10 Update Problem
  7. Pause and Resume Windows Update
  8. Turn Off Metered Connection in Your Network Connection Settings
  9. Restart the Windows Update Service Using Command Prompt
  10. Tweak Settings to Run All Windows Update Services on Startup
  11. Scan Your Computer for Viruses/Malware
  12. Delete or Rename the SoftwareDistribution Folder
  13. Scan and Repair Corrupted System Files with SFC and DISM Scans
  14. Perform System Restore
  15. Change Your DNS Server
  16. Turn off Your VPN Connection
  17. Use Microsoft Update Assistant
  18. Start Windows into Clean Boot
  19. Temporarily Disable Your Antivirus and Security Software
  20. Perform Third-Party Driver Updates
  21. Uninstall a Problematic Windows Update
  22. Run Background Intelligent Transfer Service Troubleshooter
  23. Manually Download the Updates from Microsoft
  24. Contact Microsoft Support
  25. Reset Your Windows

1. Restart Your Computer

If ‘Restart’ were a person, he/she would have been the best friend of everybody because it can solve many problems without you having to fix them. Just a restart and voila! So, restart your computer and make sure to select Restart from the Power menu instead of Shutdown.

Another fact is that if a critical update needs a restart, Windows 10 won’t download and install other updates until the computer is rebooted.

2. Run Windows Update Troubleshooter

Finding the correct cause of the Microsoft Updates issues is time-consuming, so why not let the Windows Update Troubleshooter figure this out for you? It’s not a magical tool that will detect every problem but running it before troubleshooting everything yourself is worth it. The Windows update troubleshooter is mostly useful for detecting minor issues like low disk space and internet problems.

Run Windows Update Troubleshooter from Control Panel

  1. Open the Control Panel by clicking Start, typing ‘Control Panel’, and clicking the app.
  2. Click the ‘View by’ drop-down menu at the top right and select ‘Large icons’.
Control Panel on Windows 10
  1. You’ll find all the options on one page now. Choose ‘Troubleshooting’.
  2. Under ‘System and Security’, click ‘Fix problems with Windows Update’.
Troubleshooting options on Windows 10
  1. It will open a Windows Update troubleshooting wizard. Click ‘Next’ and follow the instructions to fix Windows Update problems.
Windows Update Troubleshooter on Windows 10

Run the Troubleshooter from Windows 10 Settings

  1. Open Start and select the settings icon above the Power options.
  2. Choose ‘Update & Security’.
  3. Navigate to ‘Troubleshooting’ from the side panel.
  4. Select ‘Additional Troubleshooters’ at the bottom.
Troubleshoot settings on Windows 10
  1. Click ‘Windows Update’ and press the ‘Run the troubleshooter’ button.
Additional troubleshooters on Windows 10
  1. A troubleshooting wizard will open that will detect issues.

3. Restart Your Router or Modem

Is your internet connection working fine? If the internet speed is too slow or there are any connectivity issues, Windows Update won’t be able to check for updates or download updates. Moreover, in case the internet is disconnected during the download, it might get stuck even when the internet is restored (a computer restart will be required).

Check your internet speed by downloading anything from your web browser. If it’s slow, restart your router and disconnect unwanted devices from your Wi-Fi network.

4. Check Your Windows Update Settings

Although it’s unlikely to miss, check that your Windows Update is not paused. You’ll see a yellow pause button on the Windows Update icon when you visit the Updates window. Click the resume button to check for updates. Moreover, check if you have set active hours on Updates. Windows don’t restart your computer for updates on your active hours.

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5. Make Sure Your Hard Drive Has Enough Disk Space

This is one of the most common reasons for issues with Windows 10 updates. A hard drive that is full or has less free space won’t be able to store the new Window Update files. In turn, you’ll experience Window Update downloading or installing problems.

Like all other Windows services, Windows Updates are also stored in the local drive where the Windows itself is installed. It’s mostly Local Drive C. Here are the steps to check the storage and how to free up some space.

  1. Go to Settings by clicking Start and selecting the settings icon.
  2. Choose ‘System’.
  3. From the left-side pane, select ‘Storage’.
  4. You’ll see the storage details of the drive where Windows is installed. If there is less space, find some options below the storage to see how the space is allocated among different categories. You can also click ‘Show more categories’ to see the full list of categories.
  5. Click ‘Temporary Files’.
Storage Settings on Windows 10
  1. The system will now check for temporary files. After its completion, you can checkmark the files you want to delete. If you can’t decide which ones are essential and which aren’t, just click the ‘Remove files’ button to delete files that Windows deems unnecessary.
Temporary files on Storage Settings
  1. To delete apps, go back to Storage and click ‘Apps & features’.
  2. When you have freed up enough space, go to Windows Update, and check for updates.

6. Disconnect External Storage Devices to Fix the Windows 10 Update Problem

A USB or external hard drive could be hindering the ability of Windows to update normally. You would ask why is my innocent USB a problem for Windows Update. A believable explanation is that Windows Update checks for updates for all the devices (including the external devices).

Sometimes, the updater can’t clearly detect the external device or its drivers or there’s a conflict that can’t be resolved. This leads to Windows Update errors or worse – Windows stuck on downloading or installing updates.

The fix is easy. Plug out your external storage devices. As a precaution, unplug other devices as well such as keyboards, scanners, and others. Now check for updates. If the updates were stuck, restart your computer and then check for updates.

7. Pause and Resume Windows Update to Fix Update Problem

Merely pausing and resuming Windows Update has fixed many people’s Microsoft update problems. The reason is that pausing updates clears the temporary files and when you resume it back, it starts afresh… just like a restart.

  1. Go to Settings by pressing the Windows key + I.
  2. Choose ‘Update & Security’.
  3. Click ‘Pause updates for 7 days’.
  4. Windows Update will be paused. Now, restart your computer.
  5. Open Windows Update and click ‘Resume updates’.

8. Turn Off Metered Connection in Your Network Connection Settings

Windows Update is by default set to download updates on network connections that are not metered. This helps you save money by using less data when you’re on a metered connection with a limited data plan. 

Check the status of your internet connection with these steps:

  1. Click the internet icon on the notification area of the taskbar.
  2. Select ‘Network and internet settings’.
  3. Click the ‘Properties’ of your active internet connection.
Network and Internet settings on Windows 10
  1. Make sure that the toggle under ‘Metered Connection’ is off.
image 1151

9. Restart the Windows Update Service Using Command Prompt

To fix your computer not updating problem, restart the Windows Update service. This will remove any corrupted data that was stopping it from downloading or installing updates. Follow below:

  1. Click Start, type cmd, and select ‘Run as administrator’.
  2. Copy-paste NET STOP WUAUSERV into the command prompt and hit enter.
NET STOP WUAUSERV command on command prompt
  1. After that, paste NET START WUAUSERV and press enter.
image 1153
  1. Now, check for updates.

Another method to perform the same task is from the Services page.

  1. Open Start, type services.msc, and click ‘Services’.
  2. Scroll down to the end (or near the end) to find ‘Windows Update’. Right-click it and select ‘Restart’.
Services main window on Windows 10

10. Tweak Settings to Run All Windows Update Services on Startup

In the last solution, we restarted the Windows Update service, but another reason for Windows 10 update problems could be that the updater doesn’t run on startup. For this, we will check its startup settings and allow it to run at startup.

  1. Click Start, type services.msc, and click ‘Services’.
  2. Scroll down to find ‘Windows Update’. Right-click it and choose ‘Properties’.
Services opened on Windows 10. Right-clicked Windows Update
  1. Click the drop-down menu next to ‘Startup type’ and select ‘Automatic’.
Windows Update Service Properties on Windows 10
  1. Click Apply and OK.

Follow the same steps for ‘Background Intelligent Transfer Service’ and ‘Cryptographic Service’.

11. Scan Your Computer for Viruses/Malware

File corruption is common in computers that are affected by viruses or malware. This can result in Windows Update not downloading or installing. To fix this, run an antivirus scan with a program that you trust. If viruses or malware are detected, delete, clean, or quarantine the files.

Here is how to perform a Windows Defender scan:

  1. Click the notification area on your taskbar and select the shield icon.
  2. It will open Windows Security. Choose ‘Virus & threat protection’.
  3. Now, click ‘Scan options’.
image 1157
  1. Select ‘Full Scan’ from the list and click ‘Scan now’.
  2. Virus scans usually take time from a few minutes to hours. Once the scan is done, delete, clean, or quarantine the detected files (if any).

12. Delete or Rename the SoftwareDistribution Folder

Windows Update saves its temporary files in the SoftwareDistribution folder to have a backup of updates and keep track of how many and which updates have been installed. If any or most of these files are corrupted, it would become hard for Windows Update to know where to start. This will result in Windows 10 not downloading or installing updates. 

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The solution for this problem is to delete all the files in the SoftwareDistribution folder. Deleting files won’t cause any issue because these are temporary files. If they don’t exist, Windows Update can create them again. The presence of corrupted files in that folder, however, is an issue.

But if you still don’t want to delete the files, rename the SoftwareDistribution folder so that Windows can create a new one when it checks for updates. This way, if you find any problems due to this action, you can delete the new folder and rename the original folder back to SoftwareDistribution.

Delete the SoftwareDistribution Through Services and File Explorer

  1. Open Start, type services.msc, and click ‘Services’.
  2. Find ‘Background Intelligent Transfer Service’ and right-click it to select ‘Stop’.
  3. Now, look for ‘Windows Update’, right-click it, and choose ‘Stop’.
Services window on Windows 10
  1. When you have disabled these services, open File Explorer and navigate to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution
  2. Select all the files, right-click them, and choose Delete while pressing and holding the Shift key on the keyboard.
  3. After deletion, open Services again and this time, Start the two services you disabled by following Steps 1, 2, and 3. Select ‘Start’ in place of ‘Stop’ this time.

Use the Command Prompt to Rename the SoftwareDistribution Folder

You can perform something similar to the above steps by copy-pasting some commands on the command prompt.

  1. Click Start, type cmd, and select ‘Run as administrator’.
  2. Copy-paste the following commands one by one and press enter after pasting each command.

net stop wuauservnet stop cryptSvc
net stop bits
net stop msiserver
ren C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\SoftwareDistribution.old
ren C:\Windows\System32\catroot2\catroot2.old
net start wuauserv
net start cryptSvc
net start bits
net start msiserver

13. Scan and Repair Corrupted System Files with SFC and DISM Scans

We gave the solution in Fix 12 on how to delete or rename corrupted files in the temporary files folder for Windows Update. But that’s only one folder. What if any other of the system files are corrupted and causing Windows 10 stuck updates?

Fortunately, Windows has in-built commands that can scan and fix (or replace) corrupted files in the system drive (Local Drive C) for smooth functioning of all Windows services. We will use the SFC (System File Checker) scan and DISM (Deployment Imaging and Servicing Management) tool for file scans and repairs.

Usually, we run an SFC scan first followed by a DSIM scan. Follow these steps:

  1. Open Start, type cmd, and click ‘Run as administrator’.
  2. Type or copy-paste this command sfc /scannow and hit enter.
SFC scan on command prompt
  1. The SFC scan will run and try to replace corrupted files.
  2. When the scan is done, copy-paste DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth on the command prompt and press enter.
  3. Wait while the process is in progress.
  4. Some people recommend running an SFC scan again after the DISM scan. So, follow Step 2. This fixes the newly replaced files.
  5. Restart your computer and check for updates.

Note: DISM usually replaces corrupted or missing files automatically. But if the Windows Update tool itself is corrupted, you may need a Windows installation media or ISO image to repair it. DISM can perform the repair if the correct Windows image is provided. Follow these steps if the above method failed to fix the issue:

  1. Download Windows 10 from Microsoft. If you already have an ISO image or Windows installation media jump to Step 5.
  2. Click the ‘Download tool now’ button.
  3. Open the downloaded file, and click ‘Accept’ to agree with the terms.
  4. Select ‘Create installation media’. (Make sure you have plugged in a USB). Follow the on-screen instructions.
  5. Once it’s done, open Command Prompt, paste the below command and hit enter: DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /Source:C:\RepairSource\Windows /LimitAccess (Replace Source:C:\RepairSource\Windows with the location of the ISO or installation media.)
  6. When the process is completed, restart your computer, and check for updates.

14. Perform System Restore

System Restore is real-life time travel. If you find yourself in a situation where your computer is not working as it should due to a newly installed program or recent settings, you can reverse these changes by going back to an earlier time (in Windows) when the faulty program wasn’t installed. However, this works only if you have set your Windows to periodically create restore points.

For reversing your problems updating Windows 10, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, type ‘Control Panel’, and open it.
  2. Type ‘recovery’ in the search bar at the top right corner and select ‘Recovery’ from the search results.
  3. Choose ‘Open System Restore’. This will open the System Restore wizard.
Recovery options on Control Panel
  1. Follow the instructions to select a restore point and restore your computer.

15. Change Your DNS Server

If the reason for your problems with the latest Windows 10 update is the internet, you should change the DNS of your internet connection. DNS or Domain Naming Service identifies the name of a website in alphabets/letters and translates it to specific letters (164.353.475.3) for the computer/router to understand. If the DNS server is unresponsive, you will find it difficult to open websites and update your Windows.

We will change the DNS server to Google’s public DNS:

  1. Click the internet icon on the taskbar and select ‘Network & Internet settings’.
  2. Choose ‘Change adapter options’.
Network and Internet settings on Windows 10
  1. Right-click your internet adapter (for example; Wi-Fi) and choose ‘Properties’.
  2. In the adapter properties, select ‘Internet Protocol Version 4’ and click ‘Properties’.
Wi-Fi adapter properties on Windows 10
  1. Select ‘Use the following DNS server addresses’ and type these addresses, one each, in the boxes. 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4
Internet protocol 4 properties for Wi-Fi adapter
  1. Click OK on the current window and then click OK again on the adapter properties window.

16. Turn off Your VPN Connection

Speaking of internet connection problems, VPN connections are infamous for interrupting Windows updates. There are a lot of reasons why this happens. But for now, turn off your VPN connection, restart your computer, and try again.

17. Use Microsoft Update Assistant

Microsoft provides Update Assistant for downloading Windows upgrades. It is useful when your Windows Update tool is corrupt or not working.

  1. Visit the Microsoft Update Assistant webpage.
  2. Click ‘Update now’ on the page to download the update assistant.
  3. After the download, open the file.
  4. It will check for updates and download and install them if available.
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18. Start Windows into Clean Boot

A clean boot starts your Windows in an environment with minimal programs and services. This helps you avoid software conflicts, corrupted programs/files, and buggy updates so you can update Windows peacefully.

Here’s how to start your Windows 10 in clean boot:

  1. Sign in with an administrator account.
  2. Open Start, type msconfig, and click the app.
  3. You’ll see the window of System Configuration. Navigate to the ‘Services’ tab.
  4. Click ‘Hide all Microsoft services’ and then select ‘Disable all’.
System Configuration, Services tab on Windows 10
  1. Click Apply and OK.
  2. Now, right-click the taskbar and select ‘Task Manager’.
  3. Navigate to the ‘Startup’ tab.
  4. Right-click each item and select ‘Disable’.
  5. Restart your computer and run Windows Update in a clean boot environment.

19. Temporarily Disable Your Antivirus and Security Software

Antiviruses protect you from viruses, malware, and other attacks, but they can also block trusted programs in some cases. To find out if your antivirus is being overprotective and stopping Windows Update to function properly, disable your antivirus, restart your PC, and check for updates.

20. Perform Third-Party Driver Updates

Some new devices or their drivers might conflict with Windows Update settings and stop the updater from downloading or installing updates. To fix this, remove third-party devices. If you don’t want to remove them, update the drivers of those devices from their manufacturer’s websites. After updating their drivers, check for Windows Update.

21. Uninstall a Problematic Windows Update

Mostly, Windows Update packages improve system stability and performance. But a few of them do the opposite and interrupt other programs. A faulty update can be the reason for new Windows update issues. If your Windows 10 was updating seamlessly before a specific update, then that update is to blame for the issue. Find the procedure to uninstall an update below:

  1. Press CTRL + I on your keyboard to open Settings.
  2. Select ‘Update & Security’.
  3. Choose ‘View update history’.
  4. Click ‘Uninstall updates’ at the top.
Installed Updates on Windows 10
  1. It will take you to the list of Windows updates. Select the buggy update and click ‘Uninstall’.

22. Run Background Intelligent Transfer Service Troubleshooter

The Background Intelligent Transfer Service helps in downloading, uploading, or transferring files between your computer and the server/client. It is essential for the working of Windows Update. We’ll run its troubleshooter to find problems and possible fixes.

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click ‘View by’ in Control Panel and select ‘Large icons’.
  3. Now, select ‘Troubleshooting’.
  4. From the side panel, click ‘View all’.
Troubleshooting options on Control Panel
  1. Select ‘Background Intelligent Transfer Service’ from the list.
List of all the troubleshooters on Windows 10
  1. Follow the instructions on the troubleshooting wizard.

23. Manually Download the Updates from Microsoft

If the above fixes have failed and you can’t find any way to get the Windows Update tool to work, consider manually updating your Windows. This requires much effort because you may have to search for each update number and then download and install it. But it’s useful because sometimes, manually updating a few update packages can automatically fix the updater.

For manual updates, firstly go to the Windows 10 history to find the update names. Start with an update that you think maybe the newest for your computer. You can find the last installed update on Settings > Update & Security > View update history.

After this, copy the name of the update (for example KB4023057). Visit the Microsoft Update Catalog and type the update name on the search bar to download and install the update.

Now, repeat this process for every update.

24. Contact Microsoft Support

If you can’t fix the Windows Update problem, consider contacting Microsoft support for instructions and solutions.

25. Reset Your Windows

In case, your Windows installation is corrupted and not allowing you to run Windows Update or it doesn’t download or install updates, you can reset your Windows. This doesn’t delete your personal data and installed programs.

  1. Open Start and click the settings icon.
  2. Select ‘Update & Security’.
  3. Choose ‘Recovery’ from the side pane.
  4. Under ‘Reset this PC’ select ‘Get Started’.
Windows 10 Recovery settings
  1. Click ‘Keep my files’ and follow the given instructions.

Conclusion

Windows updates are vital for your computer and that is why this guide provides almost all the possible fixes to solve the Windows 10 update issues.

FAQs

Why Are My Windows Updates Not Downloading?

If your Windows updates are not downloading, it could be due to:
– Less space on the hard drive
– Poor internet connection
– External devices conflict
– Corrupted system files
– Antivirus is blocking updates

How Do I Fix Windows 10 Not Installing Updates?

If Windows 10 is not installing updates, restart your computer. Some updates require you to sign out to update. After this, perform these steps:
– Remove external devices
– Disable your antivirus
– Free up space on your hard drive
– Run Windows Update Troubleshooter
– Manually download and install updates from Microsoft

Why Is My Windows Stuck On Checking For Updates?

Poor internet connection or corrupted system files can cause your Windows to be stuck on checking for updates. Other reasons could be low disk space and external devices or antivirus blocking the updates.

How Do I Force A Windows Update To Install?

Go to Settings > Update & Security > Check for updates to install updates. If you can’t search for updates or can’t download or install them, perform these fixes:
– Check your internet connection
– Make sure that your hard drive has enough space
– Run the Windows Update troubleshooter
– Run the Windows 10 troubleshooter
– Manually install updates