Windows 10 Update Stuck On Restart Screen: 9 Solutions You Can Try
As you probably know, the older versions of Windows used to apply the fixes and the updates every night of Patch Tuesday. With Windows 10, we were all happy that we can get all the right updates, at the right time, without even bothering about it. And indeed, this operating system does a good job of running updates in the background with little to no attention at all from us. But the newer version has many people reporting of Windows 10 update stuck on restarting.
Nevertheless, there are times when we need to interfere. That’s when a Windows update stuck or is frozen. This one you will probably notice as the device is shutting down or just starting up – you will see an update installation notification that freezes at some point. This is also seen with the Windows 10 stuck restarting.
Messages such as when Windows updating:
- Configuring Windows updates % complete. Do not turn off your computer.
- Getting Windows ready. Don’t turn off your computer.
- Keep your PC on until this is done. Installing update x of x…
- Please do not power off or unplug your machine. Installing update x of x…
- Preparing to configure Windows. Do not turn off your computer.
- Working on updates x% complete. Don’t turn off your computer.
… are all common when installing WIndow updates. But if minutes or… hours go by and nothing changes, the process of Windows 10 update stuck on a particular window, the percentages of installed updates don’t modify, or you keep seeing Stage 1 of 3 (or anything similar), something is wrong.
What you need to remember is that messages and wording could vary from one Windows version to another. Even if Restarting is all you see on the display, as long as nothing moves on, you’re dealing with a common problem: Windows 10 restart stuck or is frozen.
Why is this happening?
From Windows XP to the latest Windows 10, basically any operating system from Microsoft could experience such freezing issues at some point.
On very rare occasions, it’s the update itself to blame. Microsoft probably did some mistakes when putting together the update and it simply cannot work on your PC.
But most of the time, it’s a software conflict you’re dealing with. It can even be a preexisting issue, something you weren’t aware of but which surfaced the moment it started the installation of the update freezes.
How can you know for sure that it’s stuck?
You’ve probably seen updates that take more than a few minutes to successfully complete. So it makes sense to ask yourself: how can you really tell that it’s a stuck or frozen update and not an update that takes longer than the average?
You’re right: if you’re trying to solve this problem when it’s not the case, you risk doing more harm than good with the Windows 10 restart stuck.
You’re probably not going to like the answer but…
You can tell that a Windows update is stuck if nothing on the screen changes for up to 3 hours.
Another important telltale will come from your hard drive activity light. If you see no activity at all – the flashes are gone, nothing happens – chances are that Windows 10 stuck restarting. But if you notice very short flashes, it is probably not stuck.
The good news is that even the most demanding updates will end within 3 hours. Nevertheless, this is the amount of time you would have to wait just to make sure you’re not inadvertently interrupting an otherwise good update.
What to do when Windows Update truly gets stuck or is frozen during installation:
There are several steps you need to follow. Depending on how easy you get over it, you might stop at step 1, or you might have to continue with the alternatives presented in this article. Either way, here are your options:
Step 1 – Use the Ctrl+Alt+Del command
If the Windows update hangs at a specific part of the process, by simultaneously pressing these keyboard keys Ctrl-Alt-Del, you might be able to move on to the Windows login screen. If you get to this point, log on as usually and let it continue with the updates installation.
In some situations, you might notice that after this keyboard combination, the computer actually restarts instead of taking you to the Windows login screen. If this is the case, continue with the steps from below.
Step 2 – Restart the device
When the installation process is frozen, the entire device is frozen. So restarting it at this point is actually a hard-reboot. You will either have to press the reset button, or to forcefully shut it down and then turn it on from the power button to fix the Windows 10 update stuck.
After the restart, Windows should start normally and continue installing the updates. On devices with Windows 8 or Windows 10, after the restart, if you go from the sign-in screen to the Power icon, you should be able to see the option Update and Restart. That’s the sign that the OS is still aiming to do the update and you should restart your device and let it follow through.
At some devices, depending on the way Windows or BIOS/UEFI were configured, the hard-reboot might require holding down the power button for several seconds. Also, if it’s a laptop or a tablet, you might have to remove the battery.
If you manage to restart the device and instead of the sign-in screen it takes you to the Advanced Boot Options or to the Startup Settings menu, look for the Safe Mode and proceed with the steps presented at the next step.
Step 3 – Boot into Safe Mode
This step is particularly useful when the cause of the stuck update was a conflicting program or service. In Safe Mode, only the essential drivers and services will be running. Chances are that the program that caused the malfunction won’t interfere this time and the operating system will be able to finish installing the updates.
When it finishes the updates, it should restart the device and get you either to the sign-in screen, or back to the Safe Mode. If you’re back to Safe Mode, you only need to restart it and from there you should be able to enter the Windows normally.
Step 4 – Initiate a System Restore
Basically, a System Restore properly performed should bring your device to the exact same state as it was before the update. Of course, what you’ll get will very much depend on when the last restore point was made and what was the restore point that you selected during the process.
Since updates are stuck and you cannot access Windows normally, you should just boot the device in Safe Mode. Once in there, when you initiate the System Restore, make sure you choose the most recent restore point that Windows created prior to the installation of the faulty update.
Was the problem triggered by an automatic update similar to the Patch Tuesday updates? After you have restored the system to a previous state, access the Windows Update settings and make the necessary adjustments to avoid such situations in the future.
Step 5 – Initiate a new System Restore
As you’ve noticed, every time the previous step didn’t function, we introduce you to a new step. If the System Restore in Safe Mode didn’t solve the issue, you can try the same thing, but this time:
- From the Advanced Startup Options for devices running on Windows 8 or Windows 10;
- From the System Recovery Options for devices running on Windows 7 or Windows Vista.
You can try this step even if you simply weren’t able to access the Safe Mode in the first place. What’s great about it is that it should work even when you cannot access the operating system at all, because all the menus of these tools are reachable from outside of it.
Step 6 – The Automatic Repair Process
We tried the System Restore function as a more straightforward solution. Still cannot undo the changes caused by the problematic updates? Perhaps the time has come to initiate the device’s “automatic” repair process.
Options vary depending on the operating system you’re running. Here’s what you should be looking for:
- In Windows 8 or Windows 10 – the Startup Repair or the Reset This PC process (needless to say, through the non-destructive option).
Step 7 – Check your RAM
Depending on what operating system you’re running and what resources the device has, falling short on RAM can cause a freeze of the patch installation. At times, you might not need extra RAM, but only to replace a faulty memory kit. Luckily, RAM memory is easy to find, swap and test these days. So if that was the problem, you should solve it in no time.
Step 8 – Update your BIOS
This is one of the less likely causes for Windows Update to get stuck or frozen. But since you cannot completely rule it out, you definitely need to check it.
Outdated BIOS becomes problematic when the updates you are trying to make somehow relate to the way Windows works with different built-in hardware, the motherboard itself included. If you’re running a BIOS update, you might solve this issue.
Step 9 – Take Windows from scratch
This is more like a radical solution, involving a clean Windows install. You will practically erase all the data from the hard drive where the operating system was installed and reinstall Windows on the same drive.
While we realize it isn’t an enjoyable solution, it is the only thing left to do when nothing from above managed to unlock the stuck or frozen Windows updates.