Trying to update Windows, but something is causing blocked software updates? It’s an annoying problem that must be fixed, especially if a virus or malware stops important updates to perform malicious activity.

Software updates on Windows are essential, as they come with fixes to glitches, offer new features and bring security patches to protect you from cyberattacks. If malware is blocking any software updates, it’s never a good sign.

Blocked Windows updates are more than just an annoyance – they’re a security risk, leaving your PC vulnerable to cyberattacks.

This guide will help fix blocked software updates on Windows and explain how the best antivirus software can spot any malicious activity causing this to happen.

Blocked software updates on Windows: Quick fixes

Follow the steps below to resolve blocked software updates on Windows. We recommend following each step, as even if a simple restart fixes the issue, malware could be hiding in plain sight to cause further problems down the line.

A good rule of thumb is to restart your computer after trying a fix.

  1. Check for updates manually

    Windows update settings for blocked software updates

    Windows automatically downloads and installs software updates in the background, often notifying you when it’s time to restart your PC to get the updates in the system. If this has stopped, it’s worth checking for updates manually.

    Type in “Settings” in the search box on the taskbar and click the app. Go through Settings > Windows Update > click Check for updates. This will force Windows to look for any recent software updates. If there are any available, download and install the update.

  2. Free up disk space

    Windows Settings uninstall apps to remove system tray icon

    Updates require a certain amount of disk space in order to install. While unlikely, if you don’t have enough, this can block software updates on Windows. That’s when some cleaning is in order.

    Uninstalling apps or programs you no longer use and deleting unnecessary files should give you more than enough space to install any software update.

    Go to Settings > Apps > Installed apps. Find the apps you no longer want on your device and those that showed up unexpectedly without your permission. Click the menu (horizontal three dots) next to the app and select Uninstall. You can also go through File Explorer to delete files.

    It can be a pain to figure out why your PC is acting slower than usual, especially if many apps and programs have been installed over the years. However, a PC booster like Norton Utilities Ultimate (from $39.99/year) can take the legwork out of cleaning up your file. It helps clear out junk files, finds unwanted software needlessly taking up space and more.

  3. Run the Windows Update troubleshooter

    Windows software update troubleshooter

    If blocked software updates persist, try running the Windows Update troubleshooter to identify and resolve the problems preventing Windows updates. 

    Type “Troubleshoot settings” in the search box on the taskbar and select the app. From here, click Other trouble-shooters and select Run next to Windows Update

    When a problem is found, such as error 0x80070643, Windows will offer fixes and automatically repair whatever issue is causing software updates to stop installing. 

  4. Change your passwords

    Norton 360 Password Manager

    If you can’t install software updates for Windows no matter what your try, chances are your PC has been infected with a virus or malware, and your online accounts and devices are at risk of being compromised.

    To help mitigate potential malware threats or hackers taking control of your accounts, change your passwords and use a strong password to stop suspicious activity. 

    Using password managers such as LastPass or 1Password can help manage all your passwords in one place, create a complex, near-unbreakable master password and encrypt your information. 

    Changing passwords will stop hackers from trying to steal any sensitive information and your online accounts. 

  5. Use antivirus software to detect and stop malware

    Norton 360 Security and Settings

    Blocked software updates on Windows may mean malware is installed on your device, and it needs to be removed the right way. Using one of the best antivirus software like Norton 360 (from $19.99/year) will keep you safe from any malicious software, like ransomware, adware, spyware, phishing and more.

    That’s not all; antivirus software can provide extra features like VPNs, dark web monitoring and more. Norton 360 has all these features and extra security tools that can backup your data, prevent online identity theft and stop malware. 

    What’s more, Norton 360 comes with monitoring features to identify all suspicious activity on your device. It will help detect and notify you about any unusual activity, including malicious software blocking updates, and stop it using it’s protection tools. 

    Check out our Norton 360 review and Norton 360 Platinum review to see which antivirus package suits you best.

What blocks software updates on Windows?

A few issues can disrupt software updates installed on your PC. Sometimes, it’s just temporary, but other problems need attention to get your computer back to normal.

Software updates can conflict with other software on your device, causing the update to stop in its tracks. For example, installed software may not be compatible with what the update brings, or the update may try to overwrite important files used by apps or programs.

If your internet connection is unstable, it can stop or corrupt the software update when Windows tries to download and install it. To ensure an update downloads properly, check your internet speeds using Speedtest. Additionally, the software update can only be installed on your device if you have enough disk space.

Sometimes, a software update can be blocked because of incorrect settings. For example, if your device’s firewall blocks specific traffic, it could block traffic needed to install the software update.

Unfortunately, malware can sneak onto your device through different methods, including users mistakenly clicking a suspicious link in an email or going to a dodgy website, thanks to phishing attacks. Because software updates come with security patches to stop malicious software, hackers try to block software updates to continue snooping around your system.

To identify and remove malicious software and prevent infections from happening, it’s best to use an antivirus like Norton 360 to detect any malicious activity and stop the malware from causing more harm.

Windows key on keyboard for blocked software updates

Can any antivirus software stop viruses and malware?

The best antivirus software will stop malware in its tracks. Not all antivirus software is equal, as some don’t have high malware detection and protection rates or have accredited lab scores to back them up.

However, many high-standard AV protections offer near-perfect scores when detecting and protecting against malware, meaning even complex malicious software can’t go unnoticed. If it’s a malicious program blocking software updates on Windows, a reliable antivirus scan will be able to track it down and eliminate it.

Services, including Norton 360 (from $19.99/year) and Bitdefender (from $19.99/year), include device monitoring features to help uncover suspicious activity early and offer the tools to fight off cyberattacks. Whether its a phishing attack, ransomware, spyware or infostealer malware, these security products have the tools to protect you.

These services have protection features that block malicious activity blocking any software updates on your device. To make sure your device is ready to identify and block malware damaging your system, set yourself up with an antivirus.

Best antivirus to prevent viruses and malware

1. Norton 360 🥇From $19.99/year
Best overall antivirus of 2023

Norton 360 on Laptop scaled

“Norton” and “antivirus” are synonymous these days, as the well-established cybersecurity brand has successfully fought against malware, viruses and nasty software threats since 1990. 

Norton 360 offers excellent antivirus protection and extra features that make for a valuable, all-in-one security product. Its Norton 360 Deluxe and Premium package may cost a pretty penny. Still, with security across multiple platforms, a full-blown VPN, Dark Web Monitoring, Parental Controls and more, it will have a household free of cyber threats. 

Norton’s certainty of its antivirus software’s capabilities is clearly defined by the brand’s 100% Virus Protection Promise. If a device protected by Norton 360 can’t get rid of a virus, the user receives their money back. It’s a big claim, but unquestionably, no one should expect to get that refund.

If you have the money for it, you can also check out the premium Norton 360 Platinum package for even more online protection, including from identity theft. Without a doubt one of the best antivirus to get.

Read our full Norton 360 review

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2. Bitdefender 🥈 From $19.99/year
Best security features and tools

Bitdefender Lead Image scaled

Bitdefender takes the spot as best antivirus, and for good reason. It’s not enough that it boasts near-perfect lab test scores across the board, as it goes the extra mile by giving users access to a plethora of advanced security features.

Bitdefender goes above and beyond in the features department, all while keeping known malware, ransomware, and viruses at bay. It will defend your device against new attacks, provide security for online transactions, keep you safe with a reliable VPN, and protect your accounts with a password manager.

It’s a no-brainer when it comes to defending your devices against virtually any form of cyberattack, and its top-notch protection extends to its most affordable package, too. Protecting your PC and smartphone, from Windows and macOS to iOS and Android, is becoming even more necessary, and Bitdefender is the tricked-out shield you need. 

Read our full Bitdefender review

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3. Malwarebytes 🥉 From $44.99/year
Best antivirus for Windows PC

Malwarebytes Logo scaled

Hundreds of malware emerge every minute, and it’s Malwarebytes’ mission to detect and conquer them all. Does the antivirus do this successfully? Yes, but there’s wiggle room for improvements.

Malwarebytes’ no-nonsense approach to protecting your devices from the onslaught of malware and viruses is effective for those who need a reliable antivirus that will detect and remove malicious software, especially with its free version. However, while its premium service provides 24/7 real-time detection, conveniently blocks vicious ransomware and shields users from malicious websites, it doesn’t go beyond on the feature front.

That’s no bad thing, as sometimes a user only needs a powerful antivirus to keep them safe from cyber threats. But considering its competitors add a few more security tools, such as data breach monitoring and a firewall, there’s room for improvement. 

Read our full Malwarebytes review

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4. Avast One 🙌 From $39.99/year
Best antivirus for beginners + free plan available!

Avast One logo on laptop

With Avast One, you can protect your device from viruses, malware and ransomware for free. That’s right, and you don’t have to pay a dime for the extra security features the antivirus throws in, including its VPN, firewall and more.

Avast One will safeguard your device from malware, comes with ransomware protection, blocks harmful websites and downloads from the web, scans your emails for malicious attachments, stops hackers from infiltrating your device through Wi-Fi with a firewall – the list goes on. That’s a lot of tools for software that’s free, and the included VPN and the ability to speed up your PC are a welcome bonus.

It’s the ideal antivirus software for home use, as it takes the hassle out of staying wary of cyber threats lurking around, even if you’re not a tech whizz. What’s more, if you are looking for added precautions, its paid Individual and Family packages still boast great value. Hard to go wrong with this best antivirus.

Read our full Avast One review

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5. AVG👍 From 4.99/month
Best antivirus for + free plan available!

AVG Antivirus logo scaled

You can never go wrong with free antivirus protection, but some deliver even better detection and protection rates, along with extra security features, without costing a dime. This is where AVG antivirus shines.

AVG provides reliable protection and only a small impact on performance for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. It safeguards your devices against malware, viruses and zero-day exploits, along with blocking malicious links and attachments in emails. Throw in phishing protection when surfing the internet and extra security features such as its SafePrice browser extension and Network Inspector, and you’ve got yourself a do-it-all antivirus.

Sure, you can find all of these perks with Avast, but if you like a slick, darker user interface that’s easy to navigate, then AVG is for you.

Read our full AVG Antivirus review

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Darragh Murphy
Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from the mischievous world of online security to washing machines designed for earbuds. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for laptops into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. When he's not checking out the latest devices and all things tech, he can be found swimming laps, watching terrible shark movies, and trying to find time to game.  Previous Editor at Laptop Mag and News Editor at Time Out Dubai, specialising in food culture, nightlife events, gaming, tech and entertainment.

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