All PC and laptop issues are frustrating, but that's especially true when it feels like there's nothing you can do to rectify it. 

If your device freezes in the middle of an update, you can feel powerless to do anything about it. Depending on which stage of the update you're stuck on, the classic turning off and on again might not work as intended. 

However, all hope is not lost. There are still a few things you can try to potentially get your update completed. 

How to know if Windows has frozen

With Windows often staying on one screen for a few minutes during the update process, it can be difficult to know whether your device has frozen or not. 

You might normally look for an unresponsive cursor, but another telltale sign is a spinning wheel that isn't moving. 

Alternatively, your update might be stuck if one of the following messages persists:

  • 'Preparing to configure Windows. Do not turn off your computer.'
  • 'Configuring Windows updates. ...% complete. Do not turn off your computer.'
  • 'Please do not power off or unplug your machine. Installing update ... of ...'
  • 'Working on updates. ...% complete. Don't turn off your computer.'
  • 'Keep your PC on until this is done. Installing update ... of ...'
  • 'Getting Windows ready. Don't turn off your computer.

If you don't see anything at all on screen, then you probably have a black screen problem

How to fix a stuck Windows update

Once you've identified that the update is stuck, try one of the following things:

  1. Check your internet connection. A strong connection is needed throughout the installation period, so if your Wi-Fi has dropped out it may just need resetting to get back up and running again.
  2. Hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete. This is the shortcut for the login screen across Windows, and logging in again may help to resume the update. 
  3. Restart your PC. It might seem radical, but pressing and holding the power button until your screen turns black may help with a complete refresh. Alternatively you can press the reset button, which should be located somewhere on the underside of your device. 
  4. Carry out a system restore. This will hopefully allow you to reinstate a previous version of Windows onto your device. To do this, head to Safe Mode and then choose Troubleshoot > Advanced options > System restore. 
  5. Start a repair process. This is more comprehensive than system restore as it , and may be in order if the previous step didn't work. In Safe Mode, you should see the option for 'Reset this PC' under the Troubleshoot section. Here, you can choose between keeping your files or wiping the device completely. 
  6. Test your PC's memory. This is usually done via third-party software, and may not be possible if you can't get back to the home screen. 
  7. Update the BIOS. It's relatively unlikely this is the sole cause of the issue, but it might be a number of measures that gets your update up and running again.