Windows Update is sometimes underestimated as a cornerstone of your system’s integrity and security. Microsoft regularly delivers security patches, hotfixes, and software updates through Windows Update, and so if this service stops running or is turned off, then Windows can become 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 and patches.
Here, we’ll show you how to get Windows Update working again when it fails, and what to do if it looks like an 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 if there’s any recent news regarding the software.
In some cases, an update may suffer from 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.
Manage when automatic updates reboot your machine
You can’t turn off automatic updates in Windows 10, but you can manage when your machine reboots after installing an update. That way, you can at least make sure your machine doesn’t restart during your workday or whenever is least convenient. Here’s how:
Step 1: Go to or search for Settings. While in Settings, select the Update & Security option.
Step 2: Select the Windows Update tab at the top of the list. Then, click Change active hours at the bottom of the window.
Step 3: This will bring up a window called “Active hours,” which will let you set a start and end time for when restarts will occur. Keep in mind that this doesn’t change when updates are installed, but only when your machine will automatically restart — and then, only when you’re not actively using it. Select your preferred times, and click Save.
Step 4: If an update has already been scheduled, then you can select Restart options from the main Windows Update settings page to select a custom restart time. Just toggle the setting on, and then select your preferred time and day.
Step 5: Finally, you can defer system upgrades for a period of time, usually several months. Keep in mind that this applies only to major feature updates, like the Anniversary Update, and not to the monthly security updates. To defer upgrades, select Advanced options on the main Windows Update page. Then, check the Defer feature updates box.
The upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update will offer more control over when updates are applied. In the meantime, you’re stuck with avoiding restarts and major upgrades at inopportune times.
Run the Windows Update Troubleshooter
Microsoft knows that sometimes updates bring along a few unwanted issues, which is why the company created the Windows Update Troubleshooter. This tool will run through your basic operating system parameters and look for any obvious problems that may be keeping Windows Update from functioning correctly. If it can, the troubleshooter will also fix them automatically, or at least let you know what the issue is.
Try this analysis early on if you’re experiencing update issues. Head over to Microsoft’s support page and click Download troubleshooter for Windows 10 — 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. The codes don’t tell you much by themselves, but they do include a lot of useful info if you hop online and consult Microsoft’s guide on the matter. Below, we’ve included a table highlighting some of the more common errors.
|0x80073712||A file needed by Windows Update is likely damaged or missing.|
|0x800F0923||This might indicate that a driver or other software on your PC isn’t compatible with the upgrade to Windows 10. For info about how to fix this problem, contact Microsoft support.|
|0x80200056||This could mean that the upgrade process was interrupted because you accidentally restarted your PC or signed out of your PC. Try upgrading again and make sure your PC is plugged in and stays turned on.|
This error might mean that your PC couldn’t connect to the Windows Update servers. If you’re using a VPN connection to connect to a work network, disconnect from the network and turn off the VPN software (if applicable) and try upgrading again. The error could also mean there isn’t enough free space in the System Reserved partition. You might be able to fix this problem by using third-party software to increase the size of the System Reserved partition.
|0xC1900208 – 0x4000C||This could indicate that an incompatible app installed on your PC is blocking the upgrade process from completing. Check to make sure that any incompatible apps are uninstalled and then try upgrading again.|
0xC1900200 – 0x20008
0xC1900202 – 0x20008
|This may signify that your PC doesn’t meet the minimum requirements to download or install the upgrade to Windows 10.|
0x80070070 – 0x50011
0x80070070 – 0x50012
0x80070070 – 0x60000
|This likely indicates that your PC doesn’t have enough space available to install the upgrade. Free some space on the drive and try again.|
The error “0x800F0922,” for example, 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 in other versions of Windows.
Try one of these quick fixes to resolve common Windows Update issues
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 that will solve a host of computer issues — and it often works for Windows Update. When you encounter an error message, reboot your machine and try to run the updates again. If you haven’t run Windows Update for some time, then 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. To do so, type “Disk Cleanup” into Cortana’s search box, click Disk Cleanup to start the utility, and, if requested, select your system drive (usually C:). Afterward, 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, meaning it’s a good idea to run a malware scanner to make sure your system isn’t compromised. If you don’t have any sort of antivirus software, check out some of our personal favorites for Windows-based machines. After all, sorting through heaps and heaps of software is never fun — neither is paying.
Contact Microsoft support
If you’ve done everything you can, it’s time to contact Microsoft support and see if they can pinpoint the issue. Head over to the company’s contact page, where you can start a chat, request a callback, 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 the update issue.
- Updates addressing Meltdown security issue are causing a number of PC reboots
- Apple iOS 11.2.2 update offers a fix to the Spectre security vulnerability
- Grab this Microsoft update now if your PC was affected by the Spectre fixes
- Here’s how to enroll in the iOS beta program to get updates early
- How to fix Microsoft Edge’s most common problems