What should I do if Windows 10 won’t boot after an update?

Windows 10 won't boot
This is what happens when you search photo libraries for a bricked computer

Windows 10 has a nasty habit of bricking people’s computers after an update. Two people I know have suffered this problem recently, so the question is – what do you do if Windows 10 won’t boot?

The first thing to say is that prevention is better than cure. If you haven’t already, you need to create a Windows recovery drive.

The second thing is to say that, while we have checked all the advice given here, everything is done at your own risk. We can’t take responsibility if things go wrong!

Windows 10 won’t boot: recovery drive

If you haven’t created your own recovery drive, there’s a chance that your manufacturer did so for you. Cross your fingers and check the box.

You may even find a Windows 10 installation disc. Keep hold of it because it may come in handy.

If you can’t find a recovery drive, there’s still hope. Restart the computer (hold down the power key for several seconds if necessary) and then keep your finger pressed on F8.

You’ll get a screen that looks something like the below. If it doesn’t appear, it may be that you need to go into your BIOS (pressing F2 or F12 just after you restart the computer should give you this option).

You’ll then need to look at your BIOS loading options and make sure “quick boot” or similar isn’t activated. Basically, you’re looking for a setting that will give you time to press F8.

Assuming you do see the above screen, press Troubleshoot. You should then see a screen like this.

Windows 10 won't boot
Let’s save Reset this PC for later. For now, click Advanced options.

Windows 10 won’t boot: Advanced options

Reset this PC is the semi-nuclear option, if nothing else works. We cover it further down on this page. First, click “Advanced options”, at which point you’ll see these six bewildering options.

Windows 10 won't boot
The options may seem quite overwhelming, but there is a clear choice.

Startup Repair is a good first option. Windows will check to see if there are any things it can automatically fix, and hopefully one of these will work. If not, you’ll get a message saying “Startup Repair couldn’t repair your PC”.

You’ll be given two options: “Shut down” or “Advanced options”. Choose the latter and you’ll be taken back to the “Choose an option” screen. Click Troubleshoot again.

Again, let’s hope for the best and click “Advanced options” rather than “Reset your PC”.

It’s reasonably likely that pressing System Restore will work. You’ll get a screen that looks like the below. Click Next.

Windows 10 won't boot
There’s a good chance that you’ll have a System restore point. Fingers crossed.

Windows will check for what it calls “restore points”. These are snapshots of your PC that it takes shortly before it applies updates.

Here, I’ve got one from the 10th of April 2018 when Windows applied a Critical Update (excuse the wobbly photography!).

Windows 10 won't boot
When Windows applies its annoying updates, it usually takes a snapshot of the system files that it can roll back to.

Assuming you have a similar screen, select the most recent healthy restore point and then click Next.

You’ll be asked to “confirm your restore point”. Press Finish and let Windows do its work.

If this hasn’t worked, your options are starting to narrow. There’s a possibility that “System Image Recovery” might work for you, but that assumes you or a friendly techie have used software to create such an image. It’s unlikely.

The Command Prompt and UEFI Firmware options are for advanced users only, as are the Startup Settings.

Windows 10 won’t boot: Reset your PC

At this point, you should either use the “Reset this PC” option or call a friendly techie.

Let’s assume you go for the Reset this PC option. This isn’t quite as awful as it sounds, because you have the option to keep your personal files – we recommend you do this. The trouble is that it will remove all the programs you’ve installed.

Windows 10 won't boot
This is what you’ll see if you select “Reset this PC” – in most cases, it’s better to keep your files.

If you’re happy with this, press Next and then hit Reset. Your computer will now go through an automatic procedure to load a version of Windows that works. Our fingers our crossed for you.

If this still doesn’t work, or you can’t see the options we mention, then your best chance is to use a Windows 10 installation disc, assuming your computer has a DVD drive. If your computer didn’t come with such a disc, check out the instructions on this page to create one yourself (although you’ll need to have a reasonable amount of knowledge to follow the instructions).

We hope this advice has helped bring your computer back to life. Let us know if there are other steps you’ve taken that also produced results, or if you followed these steps and they worked for you.

Obviously, as we said at the top, all the advice is given with best intentions and we can’t be held responsible if it goes wrong. Good luck!

Read this next: How do I get my pictures from camera in Windows 10?

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email

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