Windows 8.1 – How to fix Updates failed, Undoing Changes Error

windows-8-1-os-features-detailed

Im not sure how often this occurs, but after downloading updates on my new Windows 8.1 installation and restarting, the update process just froze up and windows could not start up. One (costly) solution is to just re-install the operating system, refresh or reset the OS – and you would need your installation CD or a recovery partition.

This post details how you can recover from the above Windows update error without a need for the installation CD or recovery partition. From my experience, this error occurs after windows automatically downloads and installs “updates” and requests a restart. To fix this problem, the new updates need to be uninstalled .

I followed 3 simple steps. – Get into advanced startup settings, enable safemode, and then uninstall the guilty updates.

Some background on the problem

Given the Windows 8 requirement for Windows Phone 8 App development, I decided to install Windows 8 on a 60 GB partition on my laptop. Installation was buttery smooth and in less than 30 mins I was up and running. SDK took about another hour to download and finish installing. It installs a boot loader that detected my windows 7 installation and gives me the option of selecting which operating system I would like to boot into whenever I startup.

AND THEN WINDOWS AUTOMATIC UPDATES CAME ALONG.

It requested permission to install updates for visual studio, .NET framework , Graphics Drivers etc. I’m not sure the exact update that was responsible, but after I restarted my laptop and tried to boot into windows 8.1, it gave the following message

Installing Updates … (about 10 minues)
We couldn’t complete the updates, Undoing changes, Don’t turn off your computer (30 mins plus)

It showed this for about 30 minutes and I decided to force restart , then the error messages got a bit more hopeful

Installing Updates 15% … (about 10 minues)
We couldn’t complete the updates, Undoing changes, Don’t turn off your computer (10 mins)
Restarting …

and then

Installing Updates 30% … (about 5 minues)
We couldn’t complete the updates, Undoing changes, Don’t turn off your computer (5 mins)
Restarting …

and after this, the cycle just kept recurring.

Fixing the Problem

As stated above, the problem was by Getting into advanced options, Enabling Safe Mode and Uninstalling all recent updates available.  The first part of this process is done during the boot process .

Step 1. Get into Advanced Startup Options

If you have only Windows 8.1 installed on your pc, some articles online say you can hold down F8 or SHIFT F8 to load the advanced startup screen. It works sometimes and sometime it doesnt. Luckily for me, I had this operating system selection screen that windows provides when there are multiple detected operating systems installed on a computer. If you do not have this operating system selection screen, check out this tutorial on other methods of accessing advanced startup options  .
At the operating system selection screen, click on  change defaults or chose other options.

1

On the  “Choose an option” screen, select Troubleshoot
On the “Troubleshoot” screen , select Advanced Options

windows-8-1-os-features-detailed

Step 2 – Enable Safe Mode.

On the “Advanced Options” screen , select Startup Settings
On the “Startup Settings” screen , select restart.

After the restart process Windows gives you the option to Enable Safe Mode

safemode

Press 4 (Enable Safe Mode) .This should reboot your pc and after you select the Windows 8.1 boot option, it should allow you boot into safemode. If it still shows the update messages again, you can wait a bit and suffer a few restarts following the process above to boot into safe mode.

Step 3. Uninstall Updates or Perform System Restore

At this point, there are two ways to proceed. You can either perform a system restore if you have previously created a system restore point before the “faulty updates were installed” . On the other hand, you could manually uninstall the offending updates.

To perform a System Restore : Follow the details in the link here 

To Manually Uninstall Updates :

Go to Control Panel (you can simply search for it).
Got to Programs and Features
On the left, click View installed updates .

Select each of the recently installed updates and uninstall them.

2

Restart your PC and you should be back in business. I had to restart my pc a couple of times after the steps above before it finally got past the “installing updates”. So you may want to restart a couple more times.

Hope this has been helpful. Feel free to share your experience in the comment and what worked for you.

Photo Credit : Samsung Developers
Update : Is this happening to your Windows 10 Installation ? Check if the fix here works for you.

About Vykthur

Mobile and Web App Developer and Researcher. Passionate about learning, teaching, and recently - writing.
This entry was posted in Microsoft, Tutorials, Windows 8 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • this info dosn’t help because i am not using windows 8.1.. i’m using windows8

    • Miguel Bartelsman

      Then update to windows 8.1 it’s free, hell, pirate it if the problem persists.

      • Robert C. Mustain

        Yes. Update your computer that is having an error updating.

  • Muhammad Daffa

    i already wait until 98% and suddenly came out something like this “failure configuring windows updates, reverting change do not turn off your computer” what should i do? i already wait so long

  • Riley

    Ive gone threw the exact same thingabout 4months ago. Had a update got to whatever % and stopped update frooze there for about 45min so i held power button 5seconds so got the fail msg. From there i get the automatic update once a week and it fails and takes 3+ hours! Before i can log back on. The past two weeks its starting happening every tuesday and friday between between 9pm and 12pm friday one really pissing me off. Im currently waiting for it to finish atm so im gonna try that advanced settings method.

  • Jose Hiram Rodriguez

    I uninstall Internet Explorer 11 and the problem disappeared. It seems that the update that is causing the problem is the update for IE 11.

    • Maureen Leavitt

      I would love to uninstall explorer but even though its my personal computer and I should have admin rights, its telling me I don’t have permission?! Any suggestions?

      • Robert C. Mustain

        Uninstall windows and install OS X.

        Instead of spending time trying to figure out how to fix your computer from all the errors, you can spend time trying to find software that is comparable, but isn’t a time bomb waiting to explode and destroy your machine.

  • Hamoudi Zeineldin

    I can’t uninstall updates it give me error plzzz help me plz

  • Sam C

    Non of this worked for me , the only difference was that my pc when pink and yellow and pixalted , then i turned it off at the wall because that was the only way to shut it down and then this happend

    • Sam C

      Its not even installing the the update anymore :/

    • Stephen

      For me doing a system restore to a point before the update helped me.

  • Robert Marino

    My system came back after 2 hours of the undoing messages ….

  • Melly Hiveley

    my computers doing nothing it is just stuck on the windows couldn’t complete updates screen then every so often you think its done and restarting and ends up right back where it started nothing I push or do is helping even forced it to shut off and restart against all warns not to because I was so frustraited and now I don’t know what to do I’m so mad!!

    • Adirọ Harphyz Horlawahlehay

      same with my laptop

  • Miguel Bartelsman

    I really don’t get why windows hasn’t implemented a way to stop updates, of all my tima as a pc user 90% of my problems have been stupid updates that don’t work

  • Harold Casil

    I’m currently configuring a pc administered by a previous tech, Is there any way i could get pass the system administrator restriction in safe mode > control panel > recent updates? appreciate the help Thanks!

  • Michael A. Farmer

    There is weird lion head icon that appears on my screen when it’s trying to update. Gets to 99% and then shuts down and starts the same thing over and over again. Can somebody help me out. Thanks

  • Matthew Courchesne

    It won’t let me enter safe mode

    • help

      Same problem here, pls help

  • jon

    I had this problem just now the only thing I could get into wasBIOS so I switched boot setting to run DVD drive first on boot it then said windows encountered a problem and allowed me to refresh it I did lose some apps but files remained fine it worked for me good luck.

    • Vykthur

      Awesome. Thanks for sharing Jon.

  • iam_Nunya

    Yeah, okay so what if it doesn’t let you uninstall the updates?

    • Vykthur

      Your computer might be connected to a network where updates are managed
      by Group Policy. These network-wide settings can prevent you from
      removing an update. In other cases, you might not be able to remove an
      update because it applies to a security-related area of the operating
      system. If you think an update that you can’t remove is causing
      problems, contact your system administrator or your organization’s
      technical support.
      http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/troubleshoot-problems-removing-updates#1TC=windows-7

  • Sahara

    I’m getting this error on my son’s computer. I have no clue which update is the “offending update.” I recently did a repair install of windows 8.1 to correct his corrupt files. Since then every time I install updates I get this error “undoing changes made to your computer” or something along those lines. It restarts, not once but twice then windows updates shows that it has never been ran, nothing shows in update history (although several updates will show as installed). So every time I run windows update again to get the same exact number of updates as before (even though apparently several of them installed?). Anyway, I have managed to install the majority of his updates by hiding all and installing one at a time.. Unfortunately there’s still several updates that will not install; which for some reason the number of updates vary from 43 to 5 (a bit on the odd side because every update fails and I’m only trying on at a time).

    Anyway I have tried everything I can find relating to this error. Most recently I found that this error can be corrected by turning off secure boot in the BIOS. Unfortunately there is no secure boot in the BIOS. Which update is considered to the “offending update?” Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Nastase Gabriel

    I just restored the sistem with system restore and now works fine, i just lost xamarin. Not such a big deal.

  • Toast Hatter

    My laptop is on windows 8.1 already, but it tried to update itself, when it reached 30% it failed, I have tried a hard reset, F11 and Fn+F8. So far it’s been like this for a few hours! Please what else can I do?

  • Maddy

    Thank you so much for the help. I followed your instructions and I’m up and running again.

    • Vykthur

      Awesome Maddy. I’m glad it worked for you. Appears it didn’t work for everyone.

  • Brandon Tolbert

    Once this works, you can change the update settings to Notify you when more updates occur, Install Automatically, and I think Notify me and let me chose whether to update or not.

  • Moltres_rider

    THIS DID *NOT* WORK ON A WINDOWS 8 TABLET!!! THE SHIFT F8 AND SAFE MODE IS NOT POSSIBLE ON A TABLET THAT HAS *NO* KEYBOARD BUT THE ON-SCREEN ONE

  • cool pear

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
    I thought i would have to bring my PC into bestbuy or do a factory reset.
    It did not happen like how i though it would. I have an asus laptop and as I was going to the asus boot screen I did SHIFT+RESTART and i black screened. It then auto booted up and updated itself normally. I guess if you have an asus laptop this may work but it seemed pretty sketchy so I would only try if desperate. Again thank you so much, and a big middle finger to windows making corrupt updates

  • actuator

    I run 8.1. When I got this message after the update install and restart I let it run its course, went back into Windows Update, checked for installed updates and all of them were there. Occasionally 2 or 3 fail to install and I just go back in and install them. It’s very strange, but apparently not a problem on my PC. This has been going on for over 8 or 9 months.

  • Gau, o Gárgula

    Uninstalled some updateds and its back to normal.
    Need to restart yet, but apparently it worked.

    Thanks for everything!

  • elephant4life

    I now have an idea why free upgrades to Win10 are offered to victims of 8.1. This has got to be the most unstable, brain-damaged version of Windows since Millenium. And I just love the really helpful screens: updating, but any clue as to whether it’s actualy making progress? Must have been the entry-level development staff – or management- that wrote this.

  • Zabeus

    Thanks. Was not able to uninstall the updates, but System Restore worked.

  • Woodsy

    Thanks. I think (?!) it worked. It was taking as long as three hours to loop through the “can’t install” process before I could finally get in. My problem was seriously complicated by trying to restore to an earlier state. None would take and I got a message to try chkdsk /r to repair a presumably corrupted sector or file. I started that, which took another 4 hours. When it finally reached 100%, it wouldn’t boot, just repeated the chkdsk on reboot. I couldn’t get out of chkdsk starting with each reboot. I tried booting to safe mode with no luck; repairing using the Windows 8.1 tools, no joy; trying a command line end of chkdsk, nope. I back up religiously so decided to restore from that. But it was over my network from an NAS drive and it took 30 hours!!! (Should have copied to USB…). Arrghhhhh! Because I used a backup data set from when the update problem began, this only restored me to the installing updates reboot loop. But I did finally get in and followed the advice here — uninstalled all the recent updates; cleared them from future updates; and set updates to permission only, not automatic. Took two entire days. What an absolute pain and curse Microsoft!!

    Anyway, it’s booting fine now. Whew!