Windows 10 has had its share of problems of late. A major report from Beyond Trust in June 2021 showed the OS to have over 1000 current security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. These include vulnerabilities like “PrintNightmare” that lets hackers get remote access to the OS and install their own programs, as well as a vulnerability in Windows Hello – the facial recognition and biometric fingerprint feature.
Why are we saying this? Because it stresses just how important keeping Windows 10 up to date is. In early July, Microsoft moved to fix many of these security holes in the system, so it’s essential you stay up to date. The problem is that Windows 10 updates can bring their own problems, so we’re here to talk you through what to do when Windows 10 updates do more harm than good.
We’ve rounded up the latest Windows 10 update problems, along with the fixes for them.
Note: if a problem here is marked as “FIXED,” it means Microsoft has rolled out an update that fixes the problem, and the solution is simply to make sure your system is fully updated. If a problem is not yet “FIXED,” then either read that entry for workarounds to that specific problem or scroll down the page for advice on how to roll back updates.
- September 2021 - KB5005565/KB5005566
- July 2021 - KB5004296/KB5005033
- [FIXED] June 2021 – KB5003637
- How to Fix and Avoid Broken Windows 10 Updates
- Install Optional “Quality” Update
- Uninstall Windows 10 Updates
- How to Roll Back Windows 10 Builds
- Check Your Windows 10 Build
- Block and Defer Windows 10 Updates
- Completely Block Windows Updates
September 2021 – KB5005565/KB5005566
Problems: Network printers stop working
Printer problems aren’t a new thing with Windows updates (in fact, printer problems are just a mainstay of being a PC user in general). Just look back to the June 2021 Windows updates for evidence.
Now in September, Microsoft has enforced a patch that addresses the last of the PrintNightmare security vulnerabilities that were first discovered in January. That’s good, because security should always be a priority, but it’s apparently come at the cost of printer sharing and network printer functionality.
Since the patch, users are reporting that network printers have stopped working, even for users with administrative privileges. One user even reported that “hundreds of printers” in an office are now not functioning – ouch.
Now, Microsoft has unlocked registry settings that could fix the problem, but this may make your PC vulnerable to the exploits again. Best thing to do is roll back the update (scroll down for instructions) and wait for the patched to be patched before patching it in yourself again.
July 2021 – KB5004296/KB5005033
Problems: Breaks Alt-Tab shortcut
It’s pretty common for a single Windows update to cause specific problems (please keep it up Microsoft – we are thriving off your update incompetence). But it’s less common that two updates released so close together cause the same problem.
Well, there’s a first time for everything, and now the July and August Windows security updates (the latter of which is mandatory) are causing the trusty Alt + Tab keyboard shortcut to not work properly. Alt + Tab is the shortcut for quickly switching between different open windows – it’s probably one of the most important shortcuts around – but users are reporting that after these updates it stops working for full-screen apps (like games). Apparently, you’re unable to Alt + Tab back to the full-screen app and are presented with a black screen.
For now, the solution is to uninstall the updates, which restores normal behavior. Scroll on down to the “Fixes” section to see how to do it.
[FIXED] June 2021 – KB5003637
Problems: Taskbar and desktop icons not working | Printer problems
The monthly security patch (Patch Tuesday) for June may do its job in tightening things up on the security front, but as is so often the case, there’s a frustrating and unexpected price to pay for this.
This time around, the side effect of this mandatory patch for many users is a malfunctioning taskbar. Specifically, users are reporting that the icons in the taskbar and system tray (where the time is usually displayed) are disappearing. Alternatively, they end up appearing over the top of the new news and weather widget.
The patch causes printer issues, too, which could have to do with the fact that it addresses a security vulnerability in the printer spooler.
Beyond rolling back the update (scroll down to the “fixes” section for more info), there are a few workarounds to this.
One is to make sure that text scaling is set to “Recommended.” To do this, right-click the desktop, click “Display settings,” then in the “Scale and layout” box, choose whatever scaling is “Recommended” (or 100%, if that fails).
You can also right-click your taskbar, go to “News and interests” and change the settings there to see if that helps.
How to Fix and Avoid Broken Windows 10 Updates
If Windows 10 Updates are failing to install, try updating through PowerShell
If the problem you’re encountering with a new Windows 10 update is that its install stops at a certain percentage, or more generally, that it’s failing to install the update, then you can try installing the update from Powershell.
First, open PowerShell as administrator (You can just type it into the Start menu search.)
In PowerShell, type:
It may ask you to install and import the NuGet provider. Press “Y” for Yes and let it install the package.
You can then check for the latest Windows updates by typing:
Finally, once you’ve confirmed that there are updates to install, type:
Then press “Y” or “A” to confirm that you want to install the updates.
Install Optional “Quality” Update
If you go to the Windows Update screen (Settings -> Update & Security -> Windows Update -> Check for Update), you may occasionally see an option called “Optional quality update available.” These updates are designed specifically to address problems with recent Windows updates and become “proper” updates a few weeks later once they’ve been thoroughly tested.
These updates are still pretty stable, though, so may be worth a shot if a recent update has broken something on Windows 10 for you.
Uninstall Windows 10 Updates
You can uninstall smaller Windows 10 updates (to roll back builds, see the next section) by doing the following: in Windows, go to “Settings -> Update & Security -> View update history -> Uninstall updates.”
In this window, scroll down in the main pane to the “Microsoft Windows” heading, and you’ll see all the KB and security updates for Windows 10 along with the dates they were installed. Simply right-click the one you want to uninstall and reboot your PC.
How to Roll Back Windows 10 Builds
After every major update, Windows 10 gives you a 10-day window to roll back to a previous version of Windows. It’s a useful feature and should give you enough time to judge whether you have a problematic update. Of course, this won’t recover your files if Windows 10 deletes them, but at least you’ll be on a more stable version of the OS.
To do this, go to Windows 10 Settings, then click “Update & security -> Recovery.” Below “Reset this PC,” you should see the option to “go back to the previous version of Windows 10.” Click “Get started,” then follow the steps to roll back Windows 10. Again, this option is only available for 10 days after a Windows 10 build update.
Check Your Windows 10 Build
Before looking into rolling back and fixing broken Windows 10 updates, you need to check which build of Windows you’re currently on, which will confirm which issues are affecting you. To do this, just go to “Settings -> Update & Security -> View update history.”
In the new window, click the arrow next to “Feature Updates” to see the version of Windows you’re currently using and click “Quality Updates” to see all the smaller “KB” updates you have installed.
Block and Defer Windows 10 Updates
The first thing you can do to avoid getting the above update problems and more is to take over the control when your Windows 10 updates. This way you can hold off getting updates the moment Microsoft rolls them out, monitor the news for a bit to see if any major errors crop up, then manually do the update yourself.
In the meantime, if you’re on Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, Education or S, you can postpone updates by going to “Settings -> Update & Security -> Windows Update.” Here, select the option “Choose when updates are installed” and pick the number of days you’d like to delay it.
Completely Block Windows Updates
If you want to block Windows updates completely until when you see fit, you first need to disable the Windows Update Medic Service, which triggers the main Windows Update service to switch itself back on automatically.
You have to disable this through Registry Editor. Click start, type
regedit and open Registry Editor.
Once in registry editor, navigate to:
Here, right-click “Start -> Modify” then change the “Value data” to “4”. Reboot your PC, then go to the Services window, and you should see that ‘Windows Update Medic Service’ is ‘Disabled’.
This means you can now also disable the Windows Update service in the same window. Right-click “Windows Update”, click Properties, then in “Startup type” select “Disabled”. Windows Update should now remain disabled until you re-enable it again.
Few things on PC are more frustrating than an update – ostensibly to improve performance – borking your system, but unfortunately, Microsoft has form in this respect. Other teething issues with Windows 10 include the Start menu search not working, the Windows Store not working, and a malfunctioning microphone. We can help you with these, too!
Image credit: Worried Man at Computer with System Failure Screen at the Workplace by DepositPhotos