Windows 10 Stuck on the Restart Screen (Updated 2017)



For a quite a lot of users, Windows 10 is getting stuck on the restart screen while trying to manually restart their PCs. Even for me, especially since upgrading to Windows 10, the OS just doesn’t do anything until it’s hard to reset and will just sit there unless intervened.

From my experience, though, this doesn’t stay forever because if you give it enough time, it eventually does restart. So, it seems like some process or program running in the background is hindering the whole restart mechanism.

windows-10-stuck-on-restarting

After digging a bit about the issue, I have realized that the problem is with our very old Windows Update. What’s happening is that in order to download updates for the OS, the updater updates itself. This is where it is getting stuck. So, the solution to this problem is to just regenerate the SoftwareDistribution packages in Windows update. The regenerated packages will allow Windows update to check the updates for all the installed programs and software from the beginning unlike previously where it was getting stuck. Let’s see the steps to do that.

Fix Windows 10 Stuck on the Restart Screen

  • Press Windows + X and then C to open Command Prompt (Admin).
  • Type net stop wuauserv. Press Enter. This will stop the update service from running in the background.
  • Now type cd %systemroot%. Press Enter. This command will navigate the command prompt to the installation directory of Windows OS.
  • Type ren SoftwareDistribution SD.old. Press Enter. By this command, the OS will rename the SoftwareDistribution folder to SD.old for a backup. In case anything goes wrong, you can just go to the C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution and change it to its original name. You can also try clearing the data of SoftwareDistribution and Downloaded Installation folders.
  • Lastly, type net start wuauserv. Press Enter. With this command, we will restart the update service in order to enable updates in the system.

By following the steps, Windows 10 will stop getting stuck on the restart screen like it used to. If you are having any problems with Windows 10 getting stuck on the start screen, even after following the steps, please let us know in the comments section so that we can help you.

 

81 Comments

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  1. How can I click any thing if it’s stuck on restarting. And no ctrl alt and delete doesn’t help.

    1. You have to use the Safe mode for that.

  2. What if the PC won’t load in Safe mode, just goes back to the grey screen and the endlessly looping cirlce of little balls?.

    1. In that case, you will need to do a clean install of Windows 10 on your PC. Can you do that?

      1. Hi. I am also stuck after I tried to install a program. Now power cycle only turns my pc off and when I hit power ok again. It goes to that blue restarting screen and stuck forever. Anyway to get around this without a clean install? Thanks.

        1. Do you have any USB devices connected? If yes, then unplug them. Try restarting after that.

          If that doesn’t work, try booting into safe mode and then delete the contents of SoftwareDistribution and Downloaded Installations.

          Reboot after that. This should fix your problem.

    2. I had this problem. I worked around it by unplugging all usb devices from the machine, and then booted again by cycling power. This enabled me to get past the spinning circles on the black screen. From what I understand the OS was stuck trying to load a driver or something for one of the usb devices. When your computer gets to the log screen, go ahead and plug in all you’re usb devices. Then log in. Wait for a minute or two to let all the startup services begin, Then follow the steps above. This worked for me. Windows 10 anniv upgrades have been a real headache for me.

      1. How do you reboot by cycling power. I’m a complete technophobe and need very specific instructions

        1. Power cycling means turning your PC completely OFF and then turning it ON. Most PCs have a restart button on the front of the case. I haven’t seen any laptop with a restart button, though.

        2. There are actually a few levels of boot. They are as follows:
          Warm Boot = A restart = reboot.
          Cold Boot = A complete power shutdown and restart.
          Ice Cold boot = complete shutdown, and unplug power.
          Some devices demand an Ice Cold boot.

      2. Yeahhhhhhh!!!!! Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou!!!! Your description lead me right to it. Thanks again.

  3. I get access is denied when I try to rename it.

    1. Rename what? You don’t have to rename anything.

      1. I thought the ren SoftwareDistribution SD.old was rename. that what I thought “ren” meant.

        1. Yes, it does. I apologize that I had written that it was doing something else. I just edited it our a few minutes ago. Thanks for pointing it out.

          1. I wonder what you originally wrote.. hehe..

            I want to add that you have to repeat “net stop wuauserv” a few times until you see “The Windows Update service is not started.”. This is because Windows will automatically start the service again under the assumption that it might have crashed, but after you stop the service about 3 times quickly, Windows will no longer automatically start the service (it assumes the service is unable to start).

            Then you can safely rename the SoftwareDistribution folder as there is no lock on the folder with the service stopped.

            1. I guess, I mentioned that that the ren command doesn’t rename the SoftwareDistribution folder. I’m not sure though.

        2. And, I think that you are not using an elevated command prompt for typing the commands on the command prompt. They won’t work without it.

          Or maybe our account is not an admin account. Check this post . That might help.

          1. I got it to work. The folder that had the SoftwareDistribution didn’t have my username with permission to change it. Once I changed file permissions the command worked and I finish the procedure. Thank you for the help.

  4. ren SoftwareDistribution SD.old .. I get the system cannot find the file specified.

    1. Please double check what you are typing in the terminal. I have tried these commands, and they work fine for me.
      Although, you can also try deleting the contents of the SoftwareDistribution folder manually.

      For that, go to the C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\Download\ and delete everything. Then restart your PC.

  5. AFter the update I have 5 laptops at our school that are stuck on the restartin g screen
    When I type Net Stop commnad it states that the service is invalid

    1. How much time did you wait? For my PC which has around 160GB C:\ drive filled with a lot of software, it took around 1.5 hours for the Windows to do its thing.

      Try waiting for some time if you know that your laptop is filled with a lot of stuff. If that doesn’t work for you, you will need to reset Windows Update components. Read the contents of the link. If something doesn’t feel right, feel free to ask here in the reply.

      1. The restart screens have been circling for over 10 hours. I am using the Media Creation Tool CD to get to a command prompt. The startup Repair does not do anything.

        1. You need to be inside the systemrootdirectory for the ren SoftwareDistribution SD.old command to work.

          systemroot is an environment variable which is only recognizable by the command prompt when Windows has booted up. Since you are using the Media creation CD to run the commands, the command prompt cannot know what systemroot means.

          This is why you are getting the system cannot find the file specified error.

          You can fix this by typing C:\WINDOWS in the command prompt instead of cd %systemroot% which I mentioned in the post.

  6. When trying get to run the net start command I get a message stating the service name is invalid.

    1. The net start wuauserv command is to start the Windows update service on Windows. You can actually do this manually too with the Computer Management. For that, open the Run box and type services.msc in it.

      This will open a list of all the services currently running on your PC. Locate Windows Update service there and restart it. You can do that by right-clicking on it and selecting Restart option.

  7. Better solution: Embrace Ubuntu. Microsoft has.

  8. My screen is black with the spinning dots. Keyboard commands don’t work. There is no mouse cursor. I have forced shutdown 3 times and it does the same thing every time no matter when or what I press on the keyboard at any point during the reboot. It has been spinning now for 10 hours. I’ve read that others have waited 3 days or more for the update to work. I’m at a loss. What can be done?

    1. Boot your PC in safe mode then do the things mentioned in the article.

      1. How can I boot my laptop in safe mode? It immediately begins spinning right after the Asus logo appears and nothing works.

        1. When the dots begin spinning, press the restart button. Do this once or twice. Windows will then go to the Advanced booting menu. You can find safe boot from there.

          1. What is the restart button????

  9. Thanks for this & easy to follow instructions… Windows hasn’t been rebooting after updates for a few months now, but does come back to life after hard reboot – finally got frustrated enough to dig for solutions. After following your other link to allow admin privileges to rename the file, I was able to enter the commands via the DOS prompt screen. Hoping this will fix it.

  10. I’ve had to use these instructions twice. First in September when they re-released the monthly patches; again today after I downloaded the Anniversary Upgrade.
    To begin with, thank you so much!
    However, what can I do to permanently fix my machine? I would like to be able to download more than just the Defender updates.

    1. Microsoft is always changing things with Windows 10. This thing works now, but may not in the coming months. There is no permanent solution. If something changes, I’ll update the article. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  11. Please help me! My laptop doesn’t restart and there is no spinning circles. Only the restarting on the screen

    1. Only restarting on the screen? Can you please give a little more detail on what’s happening. If the computer is not restarting normally, just hold the power button for a few seconds to force it to turn off. After that, perform the steps in the article. Is there any problem that you are having?

      1. The start menu problem started when i used malwarebytes,and the restart problem happened after the latest update but that was 3 days ago. Now, i used the microsoft startup repair tool but it only says it found the problem but can’t fix it.

        1. Can you tell me what problem did the repair tool found?

          1. Error: “”Microsoft.Windows.ShellExperienceHost” and “Microsoft.Windows.Cortana” applications need to be installed correctly.”

            1. This error can be solved by creating a new user account in Windows 10 from the one you are using. Go to Settings app > Accounts > Family & other people > Add someone else to this PC. Enter an email address for the new account.

              If you don’t want to add an email, click on “I don’t have this person’s sign-in information.” Then on the next screen, click on “Add a user without a Microsoft account.“. Enter all the required details and your new account will be created.

              Once that is done, press Windows + L to open the log-in menu. Select the new account. Now perform all the steps in the post above. You won’t see that error again.

              After everything is done, you can either remove the new account or use it as your primary one. Let me know how this goes.

      2. I mentioned the start menu problem cause i think that is the thing causing tge restary problem

        1. Is the Start menu crashing for you?

          1. I have fixed everything now!! I just restarted my pc. Although it deleted my apps. All the problems are now solved including the missing dotted circle and start menu error ???

            1. I’m glad that everything got fixed for you.

              1. What i mean by restart is reinstall whole windows. Hope this would help other people

                1. No problem. Thanks for your input.

  12. Tap enter while it is booting up. Once the Windows 10 disappear, a few more taps. Screen will go black . Tap couple more times and stop. Will boot up. Been doing it this way for few months. Try not to power down.

  13. Windows 10 Microsoft free upgrade from Windows 7 – With all the subsequent updates including the anniversary update. Problem persisted.

    Your solution worked perfectly well for me. Thank You, Thank You.

    1. I’m glad that i could help.

  14. I have the blue screen with the restart and it went for over 10 hours. I have tried control alt delete. I have tried several times to manually shut it off as well as unplugging the computer for several hours but still restarting. I tied the info above by right clicking at the bottom of the screen – nothing there. Getting very frustrated here. Thanks

    1. Are you open to the idea of resetting Windows? Because that’s the most simple solution here.

      1. Don’t know how to do that and don’t want to lose everything

        1. You can use Safe mode to boot into Windows without being stuck on the restart screen. Did you install or update any driver on your computer before this happened?

          1. Hi, How do I get to the restart button? All I have is a dark screen with spinning dots.

            1. How long did you wait? I guess it can take a little time depending on your computer’s speed.

  15. Good day, first thing in the morning, as soon as I see those trailing balls spinning. The screen just went death as soo as I move the arrow to the left hand corner. And then, the laptop turns it self off after 20mint. Not completely off-with orange light still on. Please help!

    1. Looks like something messed up Windows on your laptop. Try repairing it via a an ISO. Do you know how to do that?

      1. Good day, I had tried a few times; each time It started like normal updates-blue window, trailing balls… then the screen just turn death only the little balls in circles. The arrow won’t do anything no matter where I place it. I do not know how to repair it via an ISO. This is worrying.

        1. There are a lot of guides which you can refer to for repairing your Windows 10 PC. I’d start from answers.microsoft.com. Feel free to ask questions if you get any problems.

          1. This is unhelpful. It is no good to ask me to down load stuff or trying things when my laptop is not responding to anything.

            1. You don’t need to load anything. It’s the ISO file which will repair all your files of OS. As you might have seen in the comments, a lot of people are having the same issue. There is no official explanation by Microsoft about that too.

              I’d like to give you a few tips so that you can safely repair everything.

              First, remove all the USB devices connected to your laptop. If you have WiFi in your home, turn in off. Remove all the external devices connected to your laptop. Restart it. Sometimes, due to some driver issues, Windows stops responding to anything. Removing the particular hardware for that device can mitigate the problem. Check if you are still stuck on the restarting screen. If yes, then proceed with the second step.

              Second, boot your PC in safe mode and go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Reset this PC. By doing this, you will lose your settings and customizations from Windows. However, you will get the option to preserve all your files and documents.

              Since Microsoft hasn’t provided any ‘official’ solution or a fix for ‘stuck on the restarting screen’ problem, all we can do is use some workarounds to counter it. Resetting your PC is the simplest and most effective one.

              Try this out and let me know.

              1. Sorry, I gave it a good try. Deligently. I had also tried by pressing both the window and the R key down. The PC didn’t respond at all. Frustrating.
                It still stuck on: a quick brief window’s update music-blue windows-circling balls on grey screen.
                I can’t get out of this. What else I can try without losing all my fields?
                Thanks for trying to help.

                1. The Windows + R buttons are for opening the Run box. They won’t work when you aren’t logged into your PC.

          2. Hi again,
            Where is the Restart button? On screen or keyboard? Can’t do anything on the screen. Is there another way? Thanks.

            1. When you boot into the Advanced booting menu, you will see the restart button in the Startup settings screen. Like here.

  16. Removing the mouse USB plug resolved, eventually, my problem with the forever spinning dots.

    1. Yeah. This happens a lot. I’m glad that it was fixed for you.

      1. Ah. You might not see my last email. I am still stuck on the grey screen with circling balls. Can’t get out of this no matter what.
        That’s why I was hoping the restart button can be reach or substitute in a way.

        1. I know that it’s a known problem of Windows getting stuck with the circle animation. It almost always happens because of some USB device connected to the PC. And, the restarting button is only available at the advanced boot menu.

          1. I’ve unplugs everything, had try what was suggested . Still can’t get out of the trailing balls. Unable to get to Advance boot. What to do ?

            1. Since all the ‘simple’ stuff isn’t working for you, the only solution you are left with is to repair your PC.

              You need to get access to another PC for this to work.

              Edit: Resetting Windows 10 Guide

              Get the Windows 10 ISO and make a bootable drive from it using that PC. Once the bootable drive is made, insert that USB drive to your PC and boot from it.

              You will be greeted with Windows setup screen. From there, you will get the option to repair your Windows 10 installation.

  17. Windows 10 pro never restarts on restarts option , i have to always have to shut down.on restarting it hangs, then i have to switch off directly from power button.after 10minutes it starts.

    1. You mean, the restart button on the Start menu right? If that’s so, then clear your SoftwareDistribution and Downloaded Installations folder. That oughta’ fix this problem. Do let me know what happens.

  18. Cleaned, I am trying to manual update windows.after partial install windows automatically restarts and freeze at restart screen…and fail to update

  19. Nothing happens when I right mouse click in the lower left hand corner

    1. Try Windows + X. It’s the same thing.

    2. Hey people, I do not know if this is the right thing to do but it worked for me. I have a Lenovo G400s machine running Windows 10 64 bit and I had the endless circle of bubbles with RESTARTING. On the advise of this page I went to bed after turning off the Wi-Fi and made sure there were no USB’s attached, woke up 7 hours later and still the computer was RESTARTING. I hit the power button and held it down until the computer turned off. I restarted by pressing the smaller button to the right [to gain the technical selections SAFE MODE etc] and I chose normal start up and I was pretty happy when that is what my computer did. A normal start up. Hope it helps you folk out there. Cheers, Steve

  20. Did what you said on the first command. response was “Windows update could not be stopped”. Now what

    1. You need to run the Command Prompt as Admin. Press Windows + X and then C to do that.

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