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Fixing Win10 Upgrade Stuck on Restart Issues

The pace of new Insider Preview feature upgrades has picked up lately. I’ve seen a least half-a-dozen in the last three weeks or so. And with increasing frequency, I’ve also encountered an interesting issue during installation. Sometimes, on some PCs, the upgrade proceeds until a first reboot is requested. Then the OS prompts for a restart to get installation going in earnest. The running OS relinquishes control, and turns over the PC to the OS installer for the serious work. Alas, I’ve have at least 3 such upgrades hang up on me. Each time, a restart did not let the installer take over and actually upgrade the OS. Thus fixing Win10 upgrade stuck on Restart has been a preoccupation for me lately. Here, I report on a couple of fixes that have worked for me with varying degrees of success.

Sure, the warning says a restart is required, and the button says restart now. When WU is stuck, repeated restarts don’t help.

1. Fixing Win10 Upgrade Stuck on Restart with WUMT

One of my go-to fixit tools when problems present with Windows Update (WU) is to try a third-party alternative instead. Named the Windows Update MiniTool, and available for download at MajorGeeks.com, WUMT accesses Windows Updates independently of WU functions built into Windows 10. For whatever reason, I’ve learned that it can often (but not always) download and install updates when WU can’t or won’t do the job. It’s definitely worth getting to know, and adding to your toolkit, just in case problems might present with WU itself. It worked to fix one of my three recent “Win10 Upgrade stuck on Restart” incidents, in fact. For more info on working with WUMT, see my Win10.Guru story “Toolkit Item: Windows Update MiniTool (WUMT).”

2. Fixing Win10 Upgrade Stuck on Restart with Cleanup + WU Reset

Even WUMT can’t always prevail in this situation. Sometimes, WU hangs so badly WUMT makes no headway, either. When that happens, I turn to the excellent tutorial (with automated batch file) at TenForums.com to perform a full-blown WU reset. Before that, based on input from my Win10.Guru partner Kari, I also perform a special “deep clean” operation on my OS files.

2.1 The OS Files Get a “Deep Clean”

Like Kari before me, I’ve tried the TenForums tutorial without taking this cleanup step. We’ve both noticed success is more likely when performed as the initial step in a full-blown WU reset operation. The command is quite simple, but cleans up all drives on a Windows 10 system, with special emphasis on the boot/system drive (usually C:). Please cut and paste this command into an administrative command prompt window:

cmd.exe /c Cleanmgr /sageset:65535 & Cleanmgr /sagerun:65535

This will open a plethora of Disk Cleanup windows — one for each drive present on the system — check ALL boxes to remove everything it finds. [NOTE: the Downloads item includes any files you’ve downloaded into your Downloads Library folder. If you want to save any such stuff, copy it into a personal directory of your making before running this command.] There’s a lot going on here, so it could take up to half an hour to complete.

2.2 Performing a Full-Blown WU Reset

The TenForums tutorial Reset Windows Update in Windows 10 covers this in amazing detail. I follow this method because it provides a batch file that you simply download (and unblock if necessary), then run. After restarting your computer, your WU environment will be completely cleaned up and reset. It took about 3 minutes to run this on my most recently affected test machine and worked like a charm. No reason why it can’t do the same for you. Highly recommended!

For most situations, if WUMT can’t set things straight, the WU Reset method explained here will do the trick. If that still fails to produce the required result, that’s not the end of the road. Those seeking to install an upgrade should consult Kari’s TenForums tutorial UUP to ISO — Create Bootable ISO from Windows 10 Upgrade Files. It explains how to build an ISO from the upgrade files that you’ve been unable to get WU to turn into a working installation. It’s more of a “DIY upgrade” scenario, and seldom, if ever fails. If that goes south, the only option left is a clean install from the same bootable ISO you have already created. Make sure you’ve got a current backup of your working installation, before you start making any of these changes. Then you can always roll back if you learn that rolling forward isn’t working. Happy trails!

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