Windows updates can fail for a variety of reasons. From low disk space to driver conflicts, it can take hours to determine what went wrong. So instead of trying to determine the cause, it's better to clean your PC and restart the update.

Let's see how you can prepare your PC after a failed Windows Update.

The first thing you need to do is run Windows Update Troubleshooter. This tool comes with every copy of Windows 10 and tries to find problems with Windows Update.

Likewise, it can also repair broken files and processes to try to safely run the update again.

  1. To troubleshoot, press Windows key + S, Art Troubleshooting settings, and press Enter.

  2. In the Troubleshooting Settings area, press Additional bug fixes, click on Windows Update, and hit Run the troubleshooter.

Next, wait for the troubleshooter to find problems and apply the fixes it suggests. Otherwise, if you've already tried the suggested fixes, skip them.

Once the troubleshooting is over, move on to the next step.

2. Perform deployment image maintenance and management

Next, you need to scan and repair damaged system components. Corrupted system components are one of the main reasons updates fail. So it's better to find and fix them before trying to update again.

To start the process, launch a command prompt window by typing command prompt in the Windows search bar, right-click and press Execute as administrator.

In the command prompt window, enter DISM / online / cleanup-image / restorehealth and press Enter. When you press Enter, DISM will scan the Windows component store files for damage and attempt to repair the damaged components.

Running a DISM scan before proceeding with the System File Checker (SFC) scan is important because SFC relies on the Windows component memory of the running Windows image. If the component store itself is damaged, SFC will not work.

So run DISM to make sure you can run SFC without any problems.

Once DISM finishes running, you can proceed.

3. Run a system file checker scan

Where DISM scans and repairs system components, System File Checker (SFC) scans damaged Windows system files and tries to repair them by replacing them with stable versions from the Windows component store.

The process for running SFC is almost the same as for DISM. As before, start a command prompt window with administrator rights. Then enter SFC / scannow and press Enter.

Let SFC do its thing and restart your PC once it finishes.

4. Stop Windows updates

After you've found and fixed all component and file errors, the next thing to do is to delete old update files.

Windows updates are a mess, which is why most people don't update to newer versions of Windows 10. One of the reasons they are such a mess is because different updates can cause conflicts that lead to failed updates.

A simple solution to resolving these conflicts is to delete updates that have already been downloaded and try the process again.

One way to delete downloaded updates is to pause the updates and then remove them again. Windows deletes the downloaded update files when you stop automatic updates.

  1. To do this, press Windows key + I to open the settingsthen go to Update & security > Windows updates> Expanded options.

  2. Under Pause updates, select a date in the advanced options for which you want to stop the updates. For example, choose a date for the next day.

  3. After choosing the date, restart your PC. Windows continues the updates after a day and deletes all downloaded updates.

Once the updates resume, you can download the files again and try again.

5. Delete old data Windows is updating data

While the "Pause / Un-Pause" method works well for deleting updates that have already been downloaded, it is not a foolproof way to delete old update files. A better option is to delete the SoftwareDistribution folder.

The SoftwareDistribution folder contains cached updates. Windows Update Service uses this directory to distribute software, hence the name. Therefore, in order to delete this folder, you must first deactivate the background services.

Although you can turn off background services manually, the quicker and safer way to do it is by starting in Safe Mode. Follow these instructions to start in Safe Mode.

When Windows starts Safe Mode, open File manager and type Software distribution in the search bar at the top right. Once the folder appears, delete it.

Finally, restart your PC (not in Safe Mode) and download the updates.

6. Resolve driver conflicts

Windows updates can also fail due to driver conflicts. So you should fix these conflicts after a failed update.

Most driver conflicts can be resolved by updating the drivers to the latest version. If the update doesn't work, you can also try deleting and reinstalling the different versions.

Resolving these driver conflicts will go a long way towards ensuring that you have a smooth update experience the next time you run Windows Update.

7. Manually roll back Windows updates

In the event of a failed Windows update, Component-Based Servicing (CBS) tries to roll back the update. While it works fine, this rollback can largely fail.

If the rollback fails and you can start the operating system, you can uninstall the update from the settings window.

On the other hand, if the update fails and you cannot start the operating system, you will need to boot into the Windows recovery environment.

In the first case where you can boot into Windows, navigate to Settings> Updates & Security and then choose Restoration from the left panel.

Then click in the recovery window Getting started and follow the instructions to undo the changes.

If you cannot boot into Windows after a failed update, boot into the Windows recovery environment. Then navigate to Troubleshoot> Advanced options> Uninstall updates> Uninstall the latest feature update.

After uninstalling the feature updates, try to start Windows. If you can boot successfully, run the Windows Update again.

However, if you still cannot boot, the only remaining option is to manually install a fresh copy of Windows from bootable media.

Windows updates will fail, but you can always try again

There are a variety of things that can go wrong when Windows tries to update. So the fear of things breaking can keep you from updating regularly.

Fortunately, you can undo almost anything that changes a Windows Update. From deleting cached files to manually resetting updates, it's not difficult to prepare Windows for another update process.

In short, you don't have to sweat a sweat about updating. Just do it.

What if you turn off your PC during a Windows update?

Microsoft makes it clear that you shouldn't interrupt Windows Update. So what happens when you do it?

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About the author

Fawad Murtaza
(22 articles published)

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.

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By Fawad Murtaza

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