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How can IT fix Windows Update issues?

Microsoft offers some built-in troubleshooting methods to resolve Windows Update problems. There are also some third-party options IT should be aware of.

From time to time, Windows Update may get stuck or experience a variety of issues when downloading or installing updates.

For example, Windows Update issues may occur when it is:

  • Unable to download or install updates using Check for updates in Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update; or
  • Unable to clear the Restart needed flag set following an installation of cumulative and other types of updates, no matter how many restarts the user performs.

There is a well-defined set of tools to help with these Windows Update issues and a sequence of actions you can take as an IT professional to reset Windows Update when some or all of the preceding symptoms present themselves.

Microsoft Update Catalog and other troubleshooting techniques

Check the Microsoft Update Catalog. Sometimes, Windows Update issues arise from a single sticking point with a particular update. In that case, you should visit the Microsoft Update Catalog, where you can search for the problem update's Microsoft Knowledge Base number.

If you download the update version that corresponds to your install version of Windows 10, you can often install the update manually if Windows Update refuses to install it automatically.

Try Windows Update Troubleshooter. Microsoft offers two versions of the Windows Update Troubleshooter. The local version is built into Windows 10 and is accessible via the following pathway: Start > Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot > Windows Update. The other version, which does the same thing, is available online as a Windows 10 download from the Microsoft Support pages. You should use the local version first. If it doesn't work then you can turn to the online version. Either way, you can use Windows Update Troubleshooter to reset various services, restore the Windows Update files and database, and more.

Windows Update MiniTool, for example, can completely replace Windows Update.

Perform a Windows Update reset or an upgrade repair install. When a troubleshooting tool can't fix your Windows Update issues, you have two choices, both of which require some time.

A full-blown Windows Update reset can take 30-45 minutes. By comparison, an in-place upgrade repair install -- which essentially overwrites the OS files on an existing Windows 10 installation, including the Windows Update facility and supporting files and services, while leaving files, applications and some settings as is -- takes 15-30 minutes to complete on most reasonably capable PCs.

Try a third-party alternative

If Microsoft's troubleshooting tools don't address your Windows Update issues, you can try a third-party tool.

Windows Update MiniTool, for example, can completely replace Windows Update and uses its own software to contact the Windows Update servers independently of the built-in Windows 10 update checks.

MiniTool not only works when Windows Update does not, but it can also often fix whatever is ailing Windows Update. As a result, once Windows Update MiniTool fixes things for you, you can go back to using Windows Update.

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