Windows Updates stuck downloading (0%, 99%, any other %) on Server 2012

I was patching some heinously out of date client servers today that kept getting stuck at 0%, 99% and various other percentages on the ‘downloading updates’ phase of applying Windows Updates. All the usual tricks of deleting the Download folder within C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution didn’t work. Antivirus being disabled seemed to solve some of the issue, but not the whole problem.

It seemed that every time I would delete the contents of the Download directory, it would just get stuck at the same place time and time again. There’s a pretty simple solution for finding out which update is failing to download, thus being able to untick it from the selection, install the others, and then install the broken ones manually.

  1. Ensure you’ve got anything other than ‘Install updates automatically’ selected in Windows Update settings
  2. Perform a scan for updates as normal
  3. When the scan finishes, click ‘Install’ which should give you the option to choose which updates
  4. Scan through each update in the list, looking for this handy icon on the right-hand side of the Windows Update selection pane

    Windows Update: Update is ready to download
    Windows Update: Update is ready to download
  5. Untick every update that says “Update is ready to download” instead of “Update is ready to install” and make a note of the KB number for each update you untick – you’ll need these shortly
  6. Proceed with installation with the remaining ‘ticked’ updates; these ones should proceed without issue (since they’re already downloaded)
  7. With the KB numbers you noted down, punch them into Google one at a time, along with the operating system name (eg, Server 2012, Server 2012 R2) and find the relevant Microsoft Download Center link to download the update
  8. Once the installation started in step 6 is complete, install each of those update packages downloaded manually in step 7
  9. After various reboots as required, you should now have a fully up-to-date Windows Server (although you might have to repeat this process a few times, as some updates will unlock newer subsequent updates)


Geek, wanderluster, pochemuchka, wannabe-polyglot, photographer and UK-resident kiwi here for the travel.

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