5 common reasons Windows updates fail
Windows 10 is a live service, which means it’s not finished. Regular updates, both core and functional, improve your Windows experience. In a perfect world, these updates would be flawless. From critical functions to useful features, everything would work as expected.
But, as with everything, there are big flaws. Therefore, updates on Windows fail quite often. That said, Windows updates often fail for random reasons. Here are the common reasons why updates on Windows fail.
1. Low storage
If you’ve ever seen Windows warn you that “storage is low, some system functions may not work,” you need to take it seriously. Several critical Windows system functions stop or partially run when there is not a lot of storage to work with.
Windows Update is one of the functions that can stop when your PC runs out of storage space.
When an update is available, Windows needs free storage 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 storage space, Windows cannot download all critical files, which causes the installation to fail.
Therefore, before updating your PC’s operating system, make sure that there is enough space on board.
2. Several updates in the queue
Microsoft updates Windows quite frequently. As a result, the operating system is continuously improving with each new update. From core functions to individual features, monthly updates deliver new features and resolve issues reported by the community.
Essentially, there are two types of updates: one that deals with the main components of the system and the other that deals with functionality built on these main components.
When multiple updates are lined up, you must first install the ones that are intended to tweak critical system components. For example, if you have a servicing stack update and you don’t install it, there’s a good chance that all subsequent updates will fail.
Servicing stack updates are intended to resolve issues with the Windows Update service. These updates ensure that everything is in order before Microsoft can release important feature updates.
In other words, the tools and processes that handle updates on Windows require maintenance and bug fixes. Otherwise, they can “prevent correcting another part of the operating system with the latest monthly cumulative update (LCU)”, according to Microsoft’s John Wilcox.
In short, since Windows is a component-based operating system, there are different components that require maintenance. So the component that handles updates also needs maintenance every now and then. So update regularly and you won’t have to worry about sloppy updates in the future.
3. Pilot conflicts
The main function of an operating system is to manage the various hardware devices connected to the computer. An operating system does this through drivers that come with every hardware device you connect to your PC.
Although drivers are necessary, they can cause conflicts. For example, your GPU drivers may not work well with your RAM. The results of these issues can range from general system instability and failed updates to critical system failure.
Long story short, updates can fail if there are bad drivers. You can get rid of bad drivers by updating the driver to the latest version or reverting the driver to a more stable version.
4. Corrupted system files
Windows contains many system files that are necessary for the operating system to function. Any corruption among these files can have major consequences for the entire operating system. This includes failed updates.
Therefore, whenever an update fails, you should run a System File Checker (SFC) scan.
A System File Checker scan checks core system files for possible corruption and attempts to repair it.
In Windows 10, before running an SFC scan, it is always best to run a Deployment Image Servicing (DISM) scan first. The DISM scan tries to identify issues with the Windows Component Store. The Component Store keeps all Windows components to undo a change or repair a corrupted file in Windows.
An SFC scan cannot repair files if the component store itself is corrupted. DISM resolves this corruption, so that the SFC scan can do its job. You can run these two scans from a CMD window with administrative privileges. After you run these scans, try updating again.
5. The Windows Update service is behaving badly
If not the most important, one of the main causes of Windows Updates failure is the underlying Windows Update Service.
Windows Update Service is responsible for automatically checking, downloading, and installing updates. If Update Service is not running, it can cause updates to hang or even fail.
And it does happen. Whenever the Windows Update service is not running, the operating system displays the message “Windows Update currently cannot check for updates because the service is not running execution. Unfortunately, this also means that the system will not download and install any updates.
To get updates back on track when the update service itself behaves badly, you need to restart the service. To restart the service, you must stop and start the service manually or by starting in safe mode. Booting into Safe Mode is the safest and fastest option. Once in safe mode, delete the update cache and restart your computer.
There are good reasons why Windows updates fail
Windows updates are essential to the overall health of the operating system. Not only does the update fix bugs and improve security, it also introduces new features.
As we have discussed, among the many reasons why updates on Windows fail, some of the most common include low storage, multiple updates in queue, driver conflicts, and corrupted system files.
Additionally, the underlying Windows Update service may also fail, causing automatic updates to fail. So keep everything up to date including hardware drivers and make sure you have enough free storage space.
Find out how to collect information about Windows Updates and what Windows Update settings you need to know.
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