Updates to Windows might fail for a variety of reasons. It might take hours to figure out what went wrong, from insufficient disk space to driver incompatibilities. Instead of attempting to isolate the problem, it is preferable to clean up your PC and resume the update.
How To Clean Up PC After a Failed Windows Update
Run the Windows Update Troubleshoot Tool
The first thing you should do is launch the Windows Update Troubleshooter. This program is included with every copy of Windows 10 and searches for problems with Windows Update.
- To run the troubleshooter, press Windows key + S, type Troubleshoot settings and press Enter.
- Once in the Troubleshoot settings panel, press Additional troubleshooters, click on Windows Update and hit Run the troubleshooter.
Next, wait for the troubleshooter to find problems and apply fixes that the troubleshooter suggests. Otherwise, skip them if you’ve already tried the suggested fixes.
Run Deployment Image Servicing and Management
The next step is to scan for and repair faulty system components. Corrupt system components are one of the most common causes of update failure, therefore it is best to locate and repair them before attempting to update again.
To start the process, fire up a Command Prompt window by typing Command Prompt in the windows search bar, right-clicking, and pressing Run as administrator.
In the Command Prompt window, type DISM /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth and press enter. Upon pressing enter, DISM will start scanning Windows Component Store files for corruption and will try to fix the corrupted components.
Running a DISM scan before moving on to the System File Checker (SFC) scan is important because SFC relies on the Windows Component Store of the Windows image that you are running. If the component store is itself corrupt, SFC won’t work.
So, run DISM to make sure that when you need to run SFC, you can do so without any issues.
Run a System File Checker Scan
Whereas DISM examines and repairs system components, the System File Checker (SFC) checks and repairs faulty Windows system files by replacing them with stable versions from the Windows component store.
The procedure for executing SFC is nearly identical to that of DISM. Launch a Command Prompt window with administrator rights, just like you did before. Then, type SFC /scannow and press enter.
Let SFC do its thing and once it finishes up, restart your PC.
Pause Windows Updates
After identifying and correcting any component and file problems, the following step is to remove outdated update files.
One method for deleting downloaded updates is to pause and then unpause them. If you halt automatic updates, Windows will erase the downloaded update files.
- To do this, press Windows key + I to open Settings, then head to Update & Security > Windows Updates > Advanced options.
- Under Pause updates, in the Advanced options, select a date that you want to pause the updates for. For example, select a date for the next day.
- After selecting the date, restart your PC. Windows will resume the updates after one day and will wipe away all the downloaded updates.
Once the updates resume, you can re-download the files and try again.
Delete Old Data Windows Updates Data
While the “Pause/Un-Pause” approach works well for removing previously received updates, it is not a failsafe method for removing old update files. It is preferable to remove the SoftwareDistribution folder.
Cached updates are stored in the SoftwareDistribution folder. This directory is used by the Windows Update Service to distribute applications, thus the name. To remove this folder, you must first stop background services.
Although you may stop background services manually, booting into safe mode is a faster and safer option.
When Windows Safe Mode boots, open File Explorer and type SoftwareDistribution in the search bar in the top right corner. Once the folder pops up, delete it.
Finally, restart the PC (not in safe mode) and download the updates.
Resolve Driver Conflicts
Driver conflicts can also cause Windows updates to fail. As a result, following an unsuccessful update, you should resolve these conflicts.
Most driver problems may be resolved by upgrading drivers to the most recent version. If upgrading does not work, you can try removing and reinstalling the various versions.
Clearing out these driver conflicts will go a long way toward assuring a smooth update experience the next time you run Windows Update.
Manually Roll Back Windows Updates
When a Windows Upgrade fails, Component-Based Servicing (CBS) attempts to roll back the update. While it works properly, this rollback can fail in most cases.
If the rollback fails and you are able to boot into the operating system, you may remove the update from the Settings panel.
If, on the other hand, the update fails and you are unable to boot into the operating system, you must enter the Windows Recovery Environment.
In the first case where you can boot into Windows, navigate to Settings > Updates & Security and then choose Recovery from the left panel.
Next, in the Recovery panel, click on Get started and follow the directions to roll back the changes.
If you can’t boot into Windows after a failed update, boot into the Windows Recovery Environment. Afterward, navigate to Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Uninstall Updates > Uninstall the latest feature update.
After uninstalling the feature updates, try booting into Windows. If you can boot successfully, run the Windows Update again.
However, if you still can’t boot, the only option left is to manually install a fresh copy of Windows from a bootable medium.
You can as well try the update again, or you rebook you data service.