How to Fix the “Undoing Changes to Your Computer” Error on Windows

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The “Undoing changes to your computer” error message typically pops up when an update or installation process fails, and the system attempts to revert the changes that were made, restoring itself to an earlier state. This guide explores the different troubleshooting methods that can be used to fix this error and get your system back up and running smoothly.

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1. Wait It Out

The “Undoing changes to your computer” error means that the system is attempting to revert changes that were made during a failed update. This process can take time to complete, depending on the size of the update and the speed of your computer.

In some cases, the loop might disappear after a couple of minutes, but if the update was large, it can take longer for the process to finish. Therefore, we recommend waiting a while before taking any further steps. It is usually best to wait for at least an hour or two to see any progress. If the message persists for a long time, proceed with the troubleshooting methods listed below.

2. Restart Your Computer

The “Undoing changes to your computer” loop can persist because of a temporary glitch in the system. Additionally, there might be misconfigured or corrupted system settings that are interfering with the update process, leading to the problem at hand.

In this case, restarting your computer can be an effective way to fix the problem, as it will remove the glitch and attempt to reset any temporarily misconfigured settings.

Tip: you will need to access BIOS sometimes to fix a problem in Windows. Learn how to do that.

3. Install Update in Safe Mode

In some cases, issues with software or drivers installed in the system can cause the update to fail, resulting in the problem behind the error message.

An easy way to isolate such issues is by booting into Safe Mode. This is a diagnostic state in Windows that starts the system with only minimal drivers and services.

Advanced Boot Options with Safe Mode visible.

Once you have booted into Safe Mode, install the update again and check whether you can proceed without any problems.

4. Run the Windows Update Troubleshooter

You can also run the Windows Update troubleshooter, a built-in tool that can automatically diagnose and fix common issues with Windows Update.

Clicking on "Run" button to run Windows Update Troubleshooter.

It works by scanning the system for potential issues that may be preventing updates from installing successfully. If any problems are identified, it will attempt to fix them automatically or suggest fixes that you can implement manually.

To proceed with this solution, restart your computer and run the Windows Update troubleshooter via the Settings app. If you are having a problem while restarting the system normally, boot into Safe Mode using the steps described above to use the troubleshooter.

FYI: can’t get the Windows Troubleshooter to work? Read our post to see what you can do about that.

5. Clear the SoftwareDistribution Folder

The SoftwareDistribution folder is a temporary folder that Windows uses to store update files before installing them. If there is a problem with the files in this folder, it can affect the update process, leading to problems like the “Undoing changes to your computer” error.

An easy way to fix any issues with this folder is to delete its contents. Since all files in this folder are temporary, removing them will not harm your computer.

  1. Restart your computer, and upon reboot, open a Run dialog by pressing the Win + R keys.
  2. Type “services.msc” in Run and click Enter.
Typing "services.msc" in Run window.
  1. In the following window, scroll down to locate the “Windows Update” service and right-click it.
  2. Choose “Properties” from the context menu.
Selecting "Properties" in context menu for Windows Update in Services app.
  1. Click the “Stop” button to pause the service, and press “Apply -> OK” to save the changes.
Click on "Stop" button in Windows Update Properties.
  1. Launch File Explorer and navigate to “C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution”.
  2. Select all the contents in the SoftwareDistribution folder and delete them.
Deleting all contents from SoftwareDistribution folder via File Explorer.
  1. Head back to the Services app, right-click the “Windows Update” service, and select “Properties.”
  2. Click on the “Start” button to restart the service. Hit “Apply -> OK” to save the changes.
Clicking "Start" for Windows Update in Services app.
  1. Hopefully, you will be able to install the updates without any problems.

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6. Install the Update Manually

Finally, if the system is failing to install the update automatically, try to install it manually using the Microsoft Update Catalog.

The update catalog is a repository of updates, drivers, and hotfixes by Microsoft that you can download and install manually.

  1. Navigate to the Microsoft Update Catalog website in your browser.
  2. Enter the KB number of the update you want to install in the search box and click Enter.
Microsoft Update Catalog with Search bar visible.
  1. Once the results are displayed, select the most appropriate one according to your system architecture (32-bit or 64-bit) and click the “Download” button for it.
Select the update you want to install from Microsoft Catalog.
  1. Wait for the download to complete and double-click on it.
  2. Proceed with the on-screen instructions to install the update.

7. Do a System Restore

Installing new drivers or software can at times lead to conflicts within the system, causing issues with updates or other similar processes.

If you are experiencing problems with installing/uninstalling updates after installing a new program, there is a good chance that the software is the culprit. In this case, either uninstall it manually or use the System Restore utility.

This tool works by creating restore points in the system, which are essentially snapshots of your system’s configuration at a specific point in time. Use this utility to select a restore point to revert your system back to an earlier version, install the update again, and check whether the issue has been fixed.

Tip: Blue Screen of Death errors are a frequent occurrence in Windows. Take a look through this list of common fixes that can help you get rid of the inconvenience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I prevent the "Undoing changes to your computer" error from happening again in the future?

While it is not really possible to completely eliminate the chances of this error manifesting at one point, there are several steps you can take to improve the odds of it never happening again. This includes making sure that the system meets minimum requirements for the update or installation. You should also check that your system has sufficient space, memory, and processing power to handle the installation.

Is it safe to turn off my computer while it's stuck on the "Undoing changes to your computer" screen?

It is best to wait patiently for the process to finish on its own, as interrupting the process can cause data loss. However, if it is taking longer than expected, try to shut your computer down through the normal shutdown process. If it is not possible, you can use the power button to turn the device off.

Image credit: DepositPhotos. All images and screenshots by Zainab Falak.

Zainab Falak
Zainab Falak

Zainab is an Actuarial Sciences graduate from Pakistan with a passion for technology. When she's not busy writing insightful pieces on Windows and the latest tech trends, you'll find her with her nose buried in a productivity book, always on the lookout for ways to optimize her workflow and stay ahead of the curve.

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