How to Fix It When Windows 10 Won't Update

10 fixes for when Windows 10 updates won't install

Updating Windows is really important and should be performed any time updates are available. Sometimes, however, Windows 10 updates won't install and you have to find a workaround.

Unfortunately, there isn't a single answer for why this happens. In some situations, services that depend on the Windows Update tool might be turned off, and in others, important update-related files might be corrupted or installs could be blocked by security software.

If updates have already started but have become frozen, especially during a shutdown or restart, we have a different troubleshooting guide for when Windows updates get stuck.

This guide applies to Windows 10 only.

What to Do When Windows 10 Updates Won't Install

Follow these steps in order, preferably rebooting your computer after each one and then re-checking Windows Update (Step 1 below) to see if it fixed the problem.

  1. Check for and install updates manually. If you heard that there were some updates made to Windows 10 recently but you don't see them applied, it might be because Windows hasn't checked for them.

    While this might seem like a no-brainer, try it anyway—selecting the Check for updates button might be all you need to do to make Windows 10 install updates again.

    Screenshot of the Windows Update screen in Windows 10.
  2. Run the Windows Update troubleshooter. This lets Windows repair the problem itself, and is by far the easiest first step when troubleshooting update issues in Windows 10.

    To do this, open Control Panel and search for and open Troubleshooting. Select View all from the left side of that screen, and then choose Windows Update from the list. Follow the on-screen prompts to run the troubleshooter.

    Windows Update troubleshooter running in Windows 10.
  3. Use the Update Assistant on Microsoft's website. This is the ideal solution for Windows 10 not updating if you're waiting for a feature update.

    Select Update now at the top of that page to download the update utility. Once it's downloaded, open it and follow the prompts to install the latest Windows 10 feature updates.

    Screenshot of the Microsoft Download Windows 10 page.
  4. Disable your security software. Things like antivirus software and VPNs can sometimes cause issues with downloads, so temporarily disable them to see if doing so restores your ability to update.

  5. Make sure you're not set up to use a metered connection, which will limit how much data the computer can use. An active internet connection is required to download fresh updates from Microsoft.

    To check on this scenario, open Windows Settings through the WIN+I keyboard shortcut or through the Power User Menu and then select Network & Internet. Select Properties next to the active connection type to see the metered connection details.

    If applicable, toggle Set as metered connection off and then check for updates again. Any pending installs should now complete.

    Screenshot of the Windows 10 metered connection settings.
  6. Turn on the Windows Update service if it's not already on. This is necessary for updates to run, meaning Windows 10 won't update without it.

    Here's how: search for and open services in the Start menu, open Windows Update from the list, change the "Startup type" to Automatic, select Start, and then select OK.

    Windows Update service properties in Windows 10.

    If that doesn't fix the update issue, try starting Background Intelligent Transfer Service and Cryptographic Services as well.

  7. Restart important services via an elevated Command Prompt. If you received errors during Step 6 or those directions didn't help, this is the next best option.

    After opening Command Prompt as admin as described through that link, type this command followed by Enter:

    net stop wuauserv
    

    Do the exact same thing for all of these commands (execute it, wait for it to finish, and then continue with the next one):

    • net stop cryptSvc
    • net stop bits
    • net stop msiserver
    • ren C:\Windows\System32\catroot2 catroot2.old
    • net start wuauserv
    • net start cryptSvc
    • net start bits
    • net start msiserver
    • net localgroup administrators networkservice /add
    • net localgroup administrators localservice /add
  8. Delete everything in this folder:

    C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution
    

    The contents of that folder are temporary files that are sometimes used to install operating system updates. If those files become corrupted, it could result in Windows 10 not installing updates.

    To do this, open the Run dialog box (WIN+R) and enter that path to open the folder. Highlight everything that's in there (Ctrl+A) and then use Shift+Del to remove it all.

    Screenshot of the delete confirmation box in the SoftwareDistribution folder in Windows 10.
  9. Check how much free space is on your hard drive. There's a good chance you're already aware of this if it's so low that it's causing this problem, but it doesn't hurt to confirm.

    Ample hard drive space is needed before updates can be installed, so try gaining some more free space by emptying the Recycle Bin, deleting files, backing up files elsewhere, or uninstalling unused programs.

  10. Although an unlikely fix, a DNS server could be the reason for Windows 10 not updating. There are lots of alternate DNS servers you can choose from, and changing them is easy.