What to do when Windows Update crashes

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Valery Aloyants
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How to recover your computer from a blocked Windows Update installation. Most of the time, Windows Update he does his job with little or no attention on our part. While we may check and install updates manually from time to time, most Windows 10 computers are configured to automatically apply important updates, while older versions like Windows 7 and Windows 8 usually apply these fixes overnight with the Tuesday patch. .


Sometimes, however, when the patch, or perhaps even the service pack, is installed during shutdown or startup and the update installation freezes it is clear that something needs to be done. The installation of one or more Windows updates is likely blocked if you see any of the following messages persist for a long time:



  • Preparing the Windows configuration. / Don't turn off your computer.
  • Configuring Windows Updates / x% complete / Do not turn off the computer.
  • Please do not turn off or unplug the machine. / Installing the x update of x ...
  • Working on updates / x% completed / Do not turn off the computer
  • Keep your PC on until it runs / Install x update of x ...
  • Prepare Windows / Do not turn off the computer

You may also see Phase 1 of 1 or Phase 1 of 3 or a similar message before the second example. Sometimes rebooting is all you'll see on the screen. There may also be some wording differences depending on the version of Windows you are using.

If you don't see anything on the screen (read this article), especially if you think the updates may have been fully installed but could be the cause of whatever you're experiencing, check out our tutorial on instead. how to fix windows 10 update problems.




Causes of a blocked Windows update

There are several reasons why installing or finalizing one or more Windows updates can hang.

More often than not, these types of problems are due to a software conflict or a pre-existing problem that simply wasn't exposed until the Windows updates started with the installation process. Much more rarely are they caused by an error on the part of Microsoft regarding the update itself, but it happens.

All Microsoft operating systems may experience freezing issues during Windows updates, including Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and others.


There is a real problem with Windows which can cause Windows Update installations to stop responding like this, but it only applies to Windows Vista and only if SP1 has not yet been installed. If your computer matches this description, install Windows Vista SP1 or later to correct the problem.

How to fix a stuck Windows Update installation

Press Ctrl-Alt-Cancel. In some situations, the Windows update may be stuck in a very particular part of the installation process and the Windows logon screen may appear after running the keyboard command Ctrl-Alt-Del. If so, log in as usual and allow the updates to continue installing successfully. If your computer restarts after Ctrl-Alt-Del, read below.

Restart the computer, either by using the reset button or by turning it off and then on again with the power button. Windows restarts normally and finishes installing updates. If the Windows update installation is truly blocked, you have no choice but to reboot the system. Depending on your Windows and BIOS / UEFI configuration, you may need to hold down the power button for a few seconds before the computer turns off. On a tablet or laptop, the battery may need to be removed. If you are using Windows 10 or Windows 8 and after rebooting the login screen appears, try tapping or clicking the power icon in the bottom right and choose Update and restart, if available. If after restarting you automatically switch to the Advanced Boot Options or Startup Settings menu, restart your computer in Safe mode and continue reading the next paragraph.




Start Windows in Safe Mode. This special Windows diagnostic mode loads only the minimum drivers and services that Windows absolutely needs, so if another program or service conflicts with one of the Windows updates, the installation could end just fine. If the Windows Updates install successfully and continue in Safe Mode, simply reboot from there to log into Windows normally.

Complete a System Restore to undo the changes made so far by the incomplete installation of Windows updates. Since you can't log into Windows normally, try doing it from Safe Mode. During System Restore, be sure to choose the restore point created by Windows just before installing the update. Assuming a restore point has been created and System Restore is successful, the computer must be returned to the state it was in before the updates started. If this problem occurred after the automatic update, such as the one on Tuesday, be sure to change the Windows Update settings so that this problem does not recur on its own.

Try System Restore from Advanced Boot Options (Windows 10 and 8) or System Recovery Options (Windows 7 and Vista) if you are unable to access Safe Mode or if the recovery failed with Safe Mode. Since these tool menus are available “outside” of Windows, you can try this even if Windows isn't fully available. System Restore is only available outside of Windows if you are using Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, or Windows Vista. This option is not available in Windows XP.



Start the “automatic” computer repair process. While a System Restore is a more direct way to undo changes, in this case than a Windows update, a more thorough repair process is sometimes required.

  • Windows 10 and Windows 8: Try a Startup Repair. If that doesn't fix the problem, try the Reset this PC process (the non-destructive option, of course).
  • Windows 7 and Windows Vista- Try the startup repair process.
  • Windows XP: Try the repair installation process.

Test your computer memory. It is possible that the lack of RAM could cause patch installations to stop responding. Fortunately, the memory is really easy to test.

Update BIOS. An outdated BIOS does not usually cause this problem, but it is possible. If one or more of the updates that Windows is trying to install are involved in how Windows works with the motherboard or other integrated hardware, a BIOS update may fix the problem.

Windows clean installation. A clean installation involves completely wiping the hard drive on which Windows is installed and then installing Windows from scratch on the same hard drive. Of course you only have to do this if necessary, only if the above steps have not been successful.

It might seem likely that reinstalling Windows, and then the exact same Windows updates, will cause the same problem, but that's usually not what happens. Since most of the blocking issues caused by Microsoft updates are actually software conflicts, a clean installation of Windows, followed promptly by installing all available updates, usually results in a fully functional computer.

Further Reading:

  • How to check and install Windows updates
  • Windows 10 crashes and won't install updates
  • What is Windows Update?
  • How to fix when Windows 10 won't update
  • Microsoft Store crashes and won't let me download apps, 5 solutions
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