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Windows Update just not updating? Here’s how to give it a swift kick

What do you do when Windows Update fails? Here's how to get around it

Windows Update is an underestimated cornerstone of your system’s integrity and security. Microsoft regularly delivers security patches, hotfixes, and software updates through Windows Update. If this service stops running or is turned off, Windows becomes vulnerable to bugs and security holes. The update process has been greatly streamlined for Windows 10, but that doesn’t mean it’s always problem free – especially when it comes to compatibility issues or updates that may need to be patched.

We’ll show you how to get Windows Update working again when it fails, and what to do if it looks like the update is causing problems.

Go online and see if there’s a problem

Go online and take a look at Windows update news! We put this step first because it’s surprising how much it helps when you run into an unexpected problem. Search for a phrase like “Windows update problems” or “Windows 10 update” and see what latest news results Google has.

In some cases, the update itself may have known issues and will need to be patched. This is particularly common if the update fails to complete or causes something to stop working.

The latest example is the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which ironically brought back a host of bugs, errors, and installation failures. Searching for news like this allows you to quickly pinpoint the problem and potentially fix it, or turn updates off for the time being until a solution is found. Which brings us to another important point.

Turn automatic updates off if necessary

Turn Off Windows Updates

If an update keeps trying to install and keeps coming up with errors, errors, errors, there’s a better fix than throwing your computer across the room. You can turn off the Windows 10 automatic updating. Here’s how:

  1. Go to or search for Settings. While in Settings, look for the Update & Security option and open it.
  2. Here, select the Windows Update tab at the top of the list. Then go to the Advanced Options option at the bottom of the window.
  3. This will bring up a header called “Choose how updates are installed.” Make sure that this is switched away from automatic and onto an option like “Notify to Install” where you have control over when updates are applied.

This quick change will prevent Windows from endlessly trying to download updates and then reverse those updates when it discovers errors.

Automatic updates are a very good idea, but if there’s a serious issue with the update then you need to stop it and troubleshoot the issue before giving Windows back the reins.

Run the Windows Update Troubleshooter

Troubleshooting Report

Microsoft knows that sometimes updates bring along a few unwanted issues, which is why they’ve created the Windows Update Troubleshooter. This tool will run through your basic operating system parameters and look for any obvious problems that are keeping Windows Update from functioning correctly. If it can, it will fix them automatically, or at least let you know what the problem seems to be.

Try this analysis early on if you are having update problems. Head over to this Microsoft webpage and click “Download and run the Windows Update Troubleshooter.” The tool should take care of the rest. It won’t solve every problem, but it’s a great place to start and will usually provide useful information even if it can’t offer a fix.

Check your installation error code

If your update fails or creates problems, it will often give you an installation error code. They don’t tell you much by themselves, but they do include a lot of useful information if you hop online and consult Microsoft’s quick guide on the matter. This link goes to a table of the error codes and what they mean. If you can’t get an instant fix, see if your error is on the list and what Microsoft suggests that you do about it.

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For example, the error “0x800F0922” shows that you are probably having a problem connecting to the right Windows servers and may need to reset your network. The error “0x80200065,” on the other hand, means that the update was interrupted, probably because your PC shut down or you logged out of your account. You get the idea – but note that this guide is designed specifically for Windows 10. Error codes may not mean the same thing on other versions of Windows.

Try one of these quick fixes to resolve common Windows Update issues

Windows-10-Anniversary-Update-0001

Have all the automatic checks and codes failed you? It’s time to go back to the tried-and-true methods, the tricks that have been solving update errors since the update was first invented. Here are a few options that may work for you.

  • Reboot your computer.
    This is a surprisingly effective method to solve a host of computer issues and it often works for Windows Update. When you encounter an error message, reboot and try to run updates again. If you haven’t run Windows Update for some time, you might have to repeat this process several times before all updates have been installed.
  • Do you have enough disk space?
    One scenario in which updates may fail is when your system drive is running out of space. Double-check that you have at least 10GB of free space. If that could be the culprit, perform a disk cleanup to remove files. Briefly, go to My Computer, right-click on your system drive (typically C:), select Properties, and click the Disk Cleanup button. Specify the type of files that you want to get rid of and select OK. Try to stay away from important system files.
  • Is malware causing the issue?
    Malware can change critical system files and break Windows services. Run a malware scanner to make sure your system isn’t compromised.

Contact Microsoft support

If you’ve done everything you can, it’s time to contact Microsoft support and see if they can walk you through any solutions. Head over to this service webpage, where you can choose to open a chat window, ask for a call back, or schedule a call. There’s also an option to ask the community, which may be a bit more time-consuming but can be useful if others have already encountered and fixed this update issue.