19 January 2019

Windows 10 1803 failed update week-long nightmare

In December 2018 I bought a laptop with Win10 (Asus, for the records, but I think it doesn't matter). It has been little responsive since the beginning, so I let it run all updates for 24 hours: at least it stopped using the hard-disk like crazy.

But it still complained that there were pending updates, the "Windows 10 1803", that had already failed three times to install. I don't know which version was running, probably it had arrived to 1709 (that is Fall 2017).

Microsoft forums already gave the workaround: skip the 1803 update and go for 1809. Alright, but how? As of January 2019, Microsoft-provided tools would not do it.

After a week of wasted evenings I was successful with:
  1. downloading the [correct] 1809 ISO from the the Microsoft downloads site pretending not-to-be a Microsoft browser (do it from Linux or use the documented trick for Internet Explorer/Edge); it is a circa 5 GB file
  2. burning the ISO into an USB pendrive (min 8 GB) with Rufus tool under Windows
  3. going into the laptop BIOS and disabled Secure Boot
  4. from the BIOS forced to boot from the USB pendrive
  5. installed the update by choosing to keep existing files
Step #5 took few hours (overnight) and my files were not lost. Do yourself a favour and backup first, just in case!

I dare to say it is not for the unexperienced user; friends confirmed that there is no Microsoft-ish way out if 1803 update doesn't install: it would go on forever killing your HDD, CPU and Internet bandwidth.

Tip. If you want to control when Win10 downloads and installs updates, find the way to mark your connection as metered.

Good luck.