8 Fixes For Windows Update Stuck Checking For Updates

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What is a Windows Update?

A Windows Update is a service delivered by Microsoft on a regular basis to provide updates such as service packs and patches for its Windows operating system, primarily, as well as for other Microsoft applications. Windows Update is used to update drivers on hardware devices as well.

Why is the Windows Update Used?

The purpose of Windows Update is to ensure that Windows and other Microsoft programs stay updated with the latest feature enhancements and patches. This is to make sure that latest Microsoft security updates are in place to protect Windows from malicious attacks such as malware, ransomware and so on.

Generally, the Windows Update does its work without much interference from us. All computers that run on Windows 10 are configured to apply the latest updates automatically. Older versions of Windows such as Windows 7 and Windows XP apply these updates on the Tuesday night.

Why does the Windows Update Sometimes Get Stuck?

Windows stuck on checking for updates

Windows stuck on checking for updates

Sometimes it just hangs on the update page like the screenshot above.

There are other occasions when the Windows Update gets stuck, as the installation of the patch or the service pack freezes or hangs.

When this happens, you will see any one of these messages appear for a very long time.

“Configuring Windows updates x% complete Do not turn off your computer.”
“Please do not power off or unplug your machine. Installing update x of x…”
“Preparing to configure Windows. Do not turn off your computer.”
“Keep your PC on until this is done Installing update x of x…”
“Getting Windows ready Don’t turn off your computer”

Why does this happen?

Windows Update freezes or gets stuck for a number of reasons. It is possible that there is a software conflict of some sort which was noticed by Windows only when the updates were being installed.

Sometimes the updates get stuck because of a mistake on Microsoft’s part, but this is very rare. It is also possible that the Windows Update may have got stuck because you are running an older and now unpopular version of Windows, such as Windows Vista or Windows XP.

What Can Be Done When the Windows Update Gets Stuck?

The first thing to do when Windows Update gets stuck is to make sure that it is really stuck. Fixing a problem that doesn’t exist would actually make the situation worse.

So be patient and wait it out. If nothing happens on the screen for 1 hour or so, and there’s no activity light on your hard drive, then we have a problem. So move on to the next step.

Method #1:

Simply press Ctrl-Alt-Del.

Doing so would take you back to the Windows log in screen. Log on to Windows as you usually do, and the update should start installing successfully. If this doesn’t work, look at the next method.

Method #2:

Restart the computer using the reset button. Or you can just turn off the power button and turn it on again. Windows should start normally now and the update should be installed.

Didn’t work? Look at the next method.

Method #3:

Restart Windows in the Safe mode.

This is a special Windows diagnostic mode which loads the least number of drivers and services that Windows needs to run.

So this ensures that none of the programs or services that are conflicting with the updates, are running in the background, which may allow the update to install successfully. Once the updates have been installed, restart Windows the normal way.

Method #4: Delete Your Software Distribution Files and More

Method #5: System Restore

Perform a System Restore if none of the earlier methods work. This will undo the changes made by the incomplete installation of the Windows Update. Now start Windows again in the Safe Mode and allow the updates to install successfully.

If you are not able to access the Safe Mode, or if the update did not install successfully in the Safe mode, perform System Restore from Advanced Startup Options for Windows 10 and 8. For Windows 7 and Vista, do the same using System Recovery Options. System Restore will undo the changes and starts the repair process.

Method #6: Highly Unlikely

Update the BIOS, as it is possible that your BIOS is outdated. A BIOS update can help resolve updates that involve the motherboard or other built-in hardware.

Method #7: Highly Unlikely

It is possible that your RAM has failed, which has caused the installation of the Windows Update to freeze. If this is the case, take your PC to a computer technician.

Method #8: Last Resort

If every other method fails, clean install Windows, which means erasing the hard drive on which Windows is installed completely and then installing Windows again from the beginning.

Remember – this is the very last option, and should be done if nothing else works.

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