Windows Update Troubleshooting Guide

Last Updated 22 March 2015. This article is up to date for Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 Update Problems

WindowsInstructed receives a lot of traffic each month, and a significant part of that traffic is looking for solutions for Windows Update Problems. We have around 50 articles for very specific Windows problems but sometimes people simply don’t get an error code, or the error code is simply solvable with common troubleshooting steps.

For those occasions I wrote this article, It covers all steps you’ll need to execute to make sure that their really is a problem. Please be aware that while this document is huge, the steps are sorted, I mean by that, that the most common solutions are at the top and the least common solutions are down in the list.

Please make sure that you try each step, and not stop when step 1 does not work, this is quite normal, however when Windows Update is working again you can  stop reading and enjoy updates! (And the bad timing of reboots…)

I hope that you’ll find your solution below. And please don’t hesitate to share this post on your favorite social media, perhaps it can help your friends, like it helped you (I hope)!

During the entire article we assume you have access to an account on the system with Administrator Rights. We suggest you make a system restore point before continuing with this article.

Overview of all the steps

We are going to give you some steps to avoid Windows Update Failing to Install Updates or any other Windows Update fails.

  1. Clean boot your device.
  2. Checking your time and date.
  3. Running the automatic troubleshooter
  4. Resetting your Windows Update Components
  5. Running an System File Check & Running DISM to solve system corruption
  6. Run a Malware Scan
  7. Refreshing your system

Handy to Print

Update Problem Troubleshooting Windows Update Troubleshooting Guide windows update

Update Problem Troubleshooting


1. Important Step: Clean boot your device

This step should really never be skipped, a very common reason for update problems is that you have a service or program running that is causing problems with the Windows Update services or components of it. This can be diagnosed by clean booting your device and then try if updates are now successfully applying.

1. Right-click the Windows Logo in the bottom left corner of your screen.

Or press the Windows + R key at the same time, and skip to step 3. 

2. A menu will appear, now click on, Run

3. A Window “Run” will appear, now enter “msconfig” (without quotes) and press the enter key or click on OK

Run MSConfig Windows Update Troubleshooting Guide windows update

Run MSConfig

4. Choose Selective Startup and make sure Load Startup Items is unchecked

Selective Start-up Windows Update Troubleshooting Guide windows update

Selective Start-up

5. Then click on the Services tab.

6. Check the box “Hide all Microsoft Services” and then click on Disable All

Hide and Disable All Windows Update Troubleshooting Guide windows update

Hide and Disable All

7. Close MSConfig by clicking on OK, and choose to Reboot your device.

Now that all non-Microsoft services are disabled, we are going to try to apply the Windows Updates again, if they fail again, then go to the next step.

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About The Author
Yuri Pustjens
Yuri Pustjens
2014, 2015 & 2016 Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Windows Yuri specializes in troubleshooting (crash analysis and devices), system resource utilisation and system performance. He is also very interested in Customer Security. Yuri can be found as Windows Community Moderator and Wiki Author on Microsoft Answers and is active on different communities all across the web.
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  • Bill T
    August 19, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Thank you. This fix my problem even thought I wasn’t getting any error messages. Just “Windows could not complete updates. Restoring to previous settings.” After trying steps 1-3 of your troubleshooting article and those didn’t change anything, although step 4 was the solution. When it came to the step for stopping the msiserver is said it wasn’t started. When it was time to start the msiserver the response was that msiserver was not responding to conrtol. So I rebooted and went back to cmd prompt for admin and tried starting the msiserver. This time it started and then I went back to check for updates. It found 34 important updates which I proceeded to allow windows to install. This time all went well and now my HP ENVY dv6 is now up to date and hopefully no more problems like this.

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