Windows 10 is a live service, which means it isn't done yet. There are regular updates, both for core and feature, that will improve your Windows experience. In a perfect world, these updates would be bug free. From critical functions to useful functions, everything would work as expected.
But as with anything, there are some major kinks. As a result, updates fail quite often on Windows. That said, Windows updates don't often fail for random reasons. The following are common reasons why updates fail on Windows.
1. Low storage space
If Windows has ever warned you that "it is running out of memory, some system features may not work", take it seriously. Some of Windows' critical system functions will either stop or run partially when there is not much disk space available.
Updating Windows is one of the features that can stop if your PC is low on disk space.
When an update is available, Windows will need some free space to download the update files. These are the files that Windows installs when you restart your PC and run the updater. If there is not enough disk space, Windows will not be able to download all of the critical files, resulting in a failed installation.
Therefore, before updating your PC's operating system, make sure that there is enough space on board.
2. Multiple updates in the queue
Microsoft updates Windows quite often. As a result, the operating system is continuously improved with each new update. From the core features to individual features, the monthly updates deliver new features and fix issues reported by the community.
There are essentially two types of updates: one for the core system components and the other for functions that are based on these core components.
If you have multiple updates in a row, you must first install the ones that are supposed to spruce up critical system components. For example, if you have a servicing stack update and you don't install it, there is a good chance that all subsequent updates will fail.
Servicing Stack Updates are intended to fix problems with the Windows Update Service. These updates ensure that everything is in order before Microsoft can release critical feature updates.
In other words, the tools and processes that manage updates on Windows need to be maintained and bugs fixed. Otherwise, they can “prevent another part of the operating system from being patched with the latest monthly cumulative update (LCU),” said Microsoft's John Wilcox.
In short, since Windows is a component-based operating system, there are several components that require maintenance. Therefore, the component that manages updates also needs to be serviced from time to time. So update regularly so you don't have to worry about botched updates in the future.
3. Driver Conflicts
The main function of an operating system is to manage the various hardware devices attached to the computer. An operating system does this through drivers that come with every hardware device you plug into your PC.
Although drivers are required, they can cause conflicts. For example, drivers for your GPU might not play well with your RAM. The consequences of such problems can range from general system instability and failed updates to critical system failures.
Long story short, updates can fail when there are faulty drivers. You can remove faulty drivers by updating the driver to the latest version or by rolling back the driver to a more stable version.
4. Corrupted system files
Windows has many system files that are necessary for the operating system to function. Any damage to these files can have serious consequences for the entire operating system. This includes failed updates.
Therefore, every time an update fails, you should run a System File Checker (SFC) scan.
A System File Checker scan checks the core system files for possible damage and attempts to fix them.
In Windows 10, it is always better to run a Deployment Image Servicing Scan (DISM) first before running an SFC scan. The DISM scan tries to locate the problems with the Windows component store. The component store is used to keep all Windows components in order to undo a change or to repair a damaged file in Windows.
An SFC scan cannot repair files if the component store itself is damaged. DISM fixes this corruption so the SFC scan can do its job. You can run these two scans in a CMD window with administrator rights. After running these scans, try the update again.
5. Malfunction of the Windows Update service
If not the biggest, one of the main reasons Windows updates fail is the underlying Windows Update service.
The Windows Update Service is responsible for automatically checking, downloading and installing updates. If the update service is not running, it can cause updates to pause or even fail.
And that happens. If the Windows Update service is not running, the operating system displays the message "Windows Update cannot currently check for updates because the service is not running". Unfortunately, this also means that the system will not download and install updates.
To get the updates back on track if the update service itself does not behave properly, you have to restart the service. To restart the service, you must manually stop and start the service or start it in safe mode. Booting in Safe Mode is the safer and faster option. In Safe Mode, clear the update cache and restart your computer.
There are solid reasons why Windows updates fail
Windows updates are critical to the overall health of the operating system. The update not only fixes bugs and improves security, but also introduces new functions.
As we discussed, among the many reasons updates fail on Windows, some of the most common reasons are low disk space, multiple updates queued, driver conflicts, and corrupted system files.
In addition, the underlying Windows Update Service can also fail, resulting in failed automatic updates. So keep everything updated, including hardware drivers, and make sure you have enough free space.
Here's how to find out everything about Windows Update
Learn how to collect information about Windows Updates and which Windows Update settings you should pay attention to.
About the author
(28 published articles)
Fawad is a full-time freelance writer. He loves technology and food. When he's not eating or writing about Windows, he's either playing video games or writing for his quirky blog, Techsava.
By Fawad Murtaza
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