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The following message has been displayed on the screen for the last almost hour or so:

enter image description here

I'm guessing something went wrong and it's stuck in some sort of infinite loop or it's waiting for some event that didn't happen.

Anyway, at what point should I assume that the update failed? What steps should I take - considering the text states "..do not power off or unplug your machine.."? Is this because a hard reset will cause problems with filesystem consistency?

This machine (as you can see in the screenshot) is running Windows 7 Starter, if that helps.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

What to do when Windows 7 appears to hang during the installation of updates?

1. Solve the Halting Problem

Obviously you ought to try to decide if the machine's really frozen. The main indicator you can look for is hard drive activity. If your hard drive LED is blinking, the machine's probably still doing something. If you don't have an LED, put your ear to the machine and listen for disk activity. Similarly, if you see heavy blinking on your network card, it may just be downloading some delicious MS-certified spyware (etc). If the machine really appears to be doing stuff, then leave it. If many hours (>5) pass with no change on the screen, it's probably hung.

2. Make a decision

Once you've decided your machine is indeed frozen, you have two basic choices:

  1. Pretend it's not frozen, until a power surge frees you
  2. Reboot (press your reset button, or hold in your power button for many many seconds)

It's just that simple.. If it's frozen, all you really can do is reboot and hope that your file system's in good enough shape that it takes care of everything. Else, you get go learn about recovering your data and reinstalling your OS.

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Nothing is getting downloaded and the HD activity light blinks every so often but it's not as busy as it usually is for an update. – Nathan Osman Sep 28 '11 at 21:26
1  
Hope that you don't have an SSD :) – Marco Ceppi Sep 28 '11 at 21:28
    
Thankfully, no. – Nathan Osman Sep 28 '11 at 21:32
    
Yeah George, I don't think there's much to do. You can wait or not. You probably have a journaled file system, so it's probably okay. Once you reboot, tell it to do a scandisk (will require another reboot). THEN, re-run Windows Update.. Maybe someone else with have a better tip, I kind of hope so, I just doubt there is one to give, sadly. – Doc Sep 28 '11 at 21:36
    
I have an SSD on pci-e... No hdd led, no sound, argh! – Fire-Dragon-DoL Sep 15 '13 at 18:40

It is best not to unplug the computer or press the reset button, chances are you can corrupt the disk. The best thing to do would be to press the power button on the computer, it would either shutdown the computer or hibernate depending on the power settings. You can then restart and see if it starts normally or safe mode can be selected at startup.

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Last time mine did that (a week ago) I did a hard restart, when it restarted, Windows System Restore automatically fired off during boot and rolled the system back, then I did a windows update again, this time I installed the updates one at a time.

Windows 7 Pro 64bit.

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