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How to fix a stuck Windows 10 update

Has your PC frozen during an update? Here's how to get it running again

Windows 10 is the world's most popular desktop operating system, but don't let that fact fool you into thinking it is without problems. It's designed to receive consistent fuss-free updates, all of which are usually automatic and go through with little input from the user. Be this, dear reader isn't always as simple as it can be. 

There are, unfortunately, times when a Windows 10 update can get stuck. It may initially just appear to be running slow, but if it is taking an age, it could have stalled midway through its cycle. This is one of modern life's inevitable frustrations.
It has the knack of occurring at the worst opportune moment, such as right before an important work meeting or just before you start a shift. The key is to not panic and chuck it across the room because there is always a fix. Don't go switching the device on and off - this is 100% not the time for that - as it could make the problem worse, even bricking your device. 

The first course of action is to take a deep breath and then fully assess with the update is really stuck or just slow as a snail. Some updates, it's worth remembering, can be pretty large.  Once you've worked that out, only then can you move on to our top tips... 

How to fix a stuck Windows 10 update

Step 1. Everyone’s old friend Ctrl-Alt-Del could be a quick fix for an update that is stuck at a particular point. This shortcut will allow you to access the login screen, and sign in like normal, but if not, more action might be needed.

Step 2. Restart your computer. Resetting your PC during installation is considered to be a cardinal sin and explicitly warned against by manufacturers, but if your update is definitely stuck then you don’t have a lot of options. Utilise your computer’s physical power or reset button, and bear in mind you might have to hold it down for a few seconds.

Step 3. Boot into Safe Mode. Accessible from the Startup Settings menu, this mode disables everything but the absolute essentials Windows needs to run, ensuring that any software conflicts that could be interfering with the update are removed. After the update installs, you can restart Windows to exit Safe Mode.

The Windows 10 safe mode user interface

Step 4. Perform a System Restore. In order to safeguard against this type of thing, Windows will usually create a restore point just before applying an update, so you can roll it back if there are any problems. You can access the System Restore function from Safe Mode, or from the Advanced Startup Options if that doesn't work.

Step 5. Try a Startup Repair. A more in-depth fix than just doing a System Restore, the Startup Repair tool (also accessible from the Advanced Startup Options screen) can sometimes fix underlying issues that may be hampering the update process.

Step 6. Perform a clean Windows installation. This is pretty much the 'nuclear option', but if all else fails, you may be forced to simply erase your previous copy of Windows and simply start from scratch. Be warned, though, that this will erase your entire hard drive, so make sure that any vital data is as thoroughly backed up as possible beforehand.

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