Troubleshoot Windows Update errors if the system fails to update

Troubleshoot Windows Update errors when there are problems with Windows system updates and patch installation

Windows is not infallible and it can still happen today to find yourself with a update that fails with errors, effectively blocking the automatic updating of the system. This error must be fixed as soon as possible, otherwise you will not be able to benefit from the security updates and new features released by Microsoft.

The main of the mistakes what occurs is the appearance of an error message that warns "the updates have not been installed", with a generic error code about the source of the problem. Since automatic updating is now essential in the following guide we will show you how to fix windows update errors, so you can keep your Windows system up to date and protected from cyber threats.

READ ALSO -> Windows update history

Reset Windows Update

Since we are not all computer experts, we can try to reset Windows Update using the integrated tool within Windows, so as to let the operating system do all the operations necessary to resolve Windows Update errors.

To use the recovery tool dedicated to updates on Windows 11, open the Start menu, let's go inside Settings, let's open the menu System, we press on Troubleshooting, click on Other troubleshooting tools and finally press the Run button next to the item Run.
The tool will start looking for the possible causes of the problem and will propose automatic solutions or manual solutions: all we have to do is follow the instructions to solve most of the problems on Windows.

On Windows 10 the troubleshooter is available in Settings -> Updates and security -> Troubleshoot; after having opened this path we press on Additional troubleshooting tools and press on Windows Update to start the automatic recovery tool.

Restore update services

If the Microsoft tool has not solved anything, it is better to immediately check the Windows services, so as to check if those associated with Windows Update are working correctly. To proceed, press on the Start menu, look for the Services item and open the corresponding app.

In the new window that will appear, check the list and identify the services needed for Windows updates, that is:
  • Windows Update
  • Background Intelligent Transfer Service
  • Background Activity Infrastructure Service

For each service we click on the right mouse button, we click on Property, we set Automatic start and finally press on starts to start the services.

After starting the services we try to open the Windows Update screen and run the search for updates again, so as to check if the error has disappeared.

Delete updates folder

It may happen that the updates fail due to corrupt files in the folder intended for the update installers. This error is very common but can be fixed in a few simple steps.

To clean the temporary folder of all the files on the computer, press the keys Win + R on the keyboard, we type % Temp% in the field that will appear and, in the new folder, click on Ctrl + A to select all files and folders and delete them.

If, on the other hand, we wanted to directly delete the folders associated with Windows Update, let's go to the path C: WindowsWinSxS, identify the pending.xml file and delete it, so as to delete any pending updates and restart the search for new updates.

Another folder we can check is C: WindowsSoftwareDistribution, where updates are kept. To proceed, deactivate the Windows services related to updates (as already seen in the previous chapter, only this time we will have to turn off the services mentioned), go to the folder and delete all its contents. If the system warns you that some files are in use, just restart your PC and try to delete everything again.

After the cancellation we open the app again Services, we restore the services related to the updates and try to download the updates again as usual.

Reset Windows Update Tool

The last resort for anyone who continues to have serious problems with Windows updates is Reset Windows Update Tool, a free tool downloadable from the official website.
At the end of the download we open the downloaded file, confirm where necessary and, when installation is complete, open the Start menu, look for Reset Windows Update Tool, press on it with the right mouse button and select Run as administrator.

In the new window that will open, press key 5 on the keyboard to set the Italian language, press the key S and confirm with Submit. Now we will have to press type the numbers based on what we want to restore; to resolve Windows Update errors, we recommend that you enter:
  • 2: Reset Windows Update components
  • 3: Delete Windows temporary files
  • 6: Run the System File Checker tool
  • 9: Perform automatic repair operations
  • 10: Clean the replaced components
  • 11: Delete incorrect registry values
  • 12: Reset Winsock settings
  • 15: Check for Windows updates

After entering each number, press on Enter to confirm and wait for the execution of the commands. With the last command we will start the search for updates, which should proceed without a hitch at this point.


We remind you that updating Windows is very important, especially for security reasons as 90% of patches and critical updates concern the coverage of security holes that allow malicious users to enter PCs.

To update the Windows operating system, you can use manual update procedures, described in another article, so you can update even if the Windows Update services don't work.

If even with these tips Windows Update does not work again, all that remains is restore Windows.

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