It’s frustrating when Windows 10 won’t update, but there are solutions.
Windows 10 updates are a familiar annoyance to any Windows user, since they bug you until you shut down your computer and go through a long restart process.
Usually these updates come every few weeks — or longer if you delay them.
However, it’s important to keep your system updated. Every update patches up holes in your system’s security, and leaving yourself exposed can lead to much bigger annoyances than just having to restart.
So when your system just can’t seem to finish an update, things can be scary. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to make sure that Windows updates properly.
How to fix Windows when it can’t update
Some of these solutions — like making sure you have a legal, valid copy of Windows — can’t be done at any time. But other fixes can be put into action right now.
Restart your computer
Windows may have downloaded the update, but is waiting for you to restart your computer.
Restarting the PC should be your first step in trying to resolve your problem.
Check your internet connection
Windows can’t download updates unless it’s connected to the internet. And if your internet dies while updates are coming in, the whole update can become corrupted.
Make sure that you have a stable internet connection that lasts the entire time you’re updating.
Remove all external storage devices
External storage devices — these include external hard drives, USB flash drives, and more — can cause issues with the updating process. Once it’s safe to do so, unplug all these devices from your computer.
If this doesn’t fix the problem, you should still keep the devices unplugged while you continue with the following steps.
Check your hard drive capacity
Your computer needs free hard drive space to install updates. Check that you have enough space.
1. Open the “This PC” section in Windows Explorer. You can get here by opening up any folder and selecting “This PC” in the sidebar on the left. It should show you all your hard drives and partitions.
2. Check your hard drive — by default, it’s called “C:”. If there’s no more space on the drive, that might be the problem — no room for updates.
My hard drive still has several gigabytes free. A full partition will show a completely filled bar.
3. If the hard drive is filled, free up some space by deleting documents and programs, or assign the partition more space.
Try updating Windows manually again
1. Open the Start menu by clicking on the Windows icon at the bottom-left of your screen, or by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard.
2. Click the Settings icon, which looks like a gear.
3. At the bottom of the menu that opens, click “Update & Security.”
4. This will open the Windows Update menu, where Windows will show you any pending updates, if they’re available. Download the updates and restart your computer.
My computer has updates waiting to be installed. I can press the gray “Download” button to download and install the most important updates, or the blue “Download and Install” below to install optional updates as well.
For more information on how to manually update Windows, check out our article, “How to manually check for updates on a Windows 10 computer and install them.”
Check your Device Manager to make sure your drivers are correctly installed.
1. Open the Start menu, and search for “Device Manager.”
2. Find device names that have a yellow alert next to them, and either update the driver — click the icon at the top of the Device Manager with the green upwards arrow — or uninstall the driver by pressing the red cross icon.
If there’s a yellow alert icon next to one of your drivers, it might need an update.
If you’re using a legally obtained copy of Windows, have a working internet connection, and if these options don’t work for you, you can contact Microsoft support here.