How To Run Windows Update From Command Line

In Windows 10, Windows Update can be found in Settings –> Update & Security –> Windows Update. Normally Windows Update keeps on running in the background and will install new updates automatically.

Windows Update checks for new updates randomly every 22 hours. The reason behind the random check is that if all the systems in the world start checking for updates at the exact same time, this would put extreme load on Microsoft servers. That’s why Microsoft came up with the idea of checking for updates randomly every day.

You can also run Windows Update manually to check for new updates at any time. Here are three ways to check for new Windows updates.

Force Windows Update check using Run command dialog

I found out that the easiest way to force Windows update check is to use a command in the Run dialog. There are other commands from CMD and PowerShell as well, but let’s start with the easiest way to do it.

Open the Run dialog (Windows key + R) or open Windows Search and run the following command:

control update

This will trigger the Windows Update graphical user interface which will start checking for new updates. This method works on all versions of Windows including Windows 10 and Windows 11.

There is another command that will trigger the same effect but only works in Windows 10 and Windows 11:

ms-settings:windowsupdate

Run Windows Update from PowerShell (Command-line)

There is a PowerShell module for Windows Update. You can install and run the module to check for new updates. There are three steps to running Windows Update through PowerShell. Run the following commands step by step:

  • Install-Module PSWindowsUpdate
Install Module PSWindowsUpdate
Install Module PSWindowsUpdate

This will install the Windows Update module in PowerShell.

  • Get-WindowsUpdate
  • Get WindowsUpdate
    Get WindowsUpdate

    This command will check for updates.

  • Install-WindowsUpdate
  • Install WindowsUpdate
    Install WindowsUpdate

    This command will install the available updates (which were listed in step 2)

    Run Windows Update from Command Prompt (Command-line)

    Windows Update can also be run through legacy CMD. The only limitation running Windows Update through the command prompt is that it won’t show any progress. Only results are shown. Let’s see how to run it:

    RestartDeviceRestart Windows after updates are installed

    ScanInstallWait – Check for updates, download available updates and install them

    • Go to Run –> cmd
    • Run the following command to check for new updates:
      wuauclt /detectnow 
    • Run the following command to install new updates
      wuauclt /updatenow

    Since the command prompt does not show any progress, a better approach would be to check and install updates at the same time. Here’s the command for this:

    wuauclt /detectnow /updatenow

    The above mentioned command will work in all versions of Windows, including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. But if you are using Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016, you can use UsoClient command which has more options than wuauclt. You can run UsoClient with the following switches:

    StartScan – Start checking for updates

    StartDownload – Start downloading updates

    StartInstall – Start installing downloaded updates

    Check for Windows updates using Windows Settings

    To check for new updates and configure your Windows Update settings, follow the steps below:

    1. Open Windows Settings (Windows key + i).
    2. Choose Update & Security.
    3. Choose Windows Update from the left hand menu.
    4. Press the Check for updates button on the right hand pane.
    Check for updates
    Check for updates

    Hopefully this will be useful in situations where you want to automate certain Windows functions. What other purposes do you want to use command line options to run Windows Update?

    Also see:

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    Usman Khurshid
    Usman Khurshid is a seasoned IT Pro with over 15 years of experience in the IT industry. He has experience in everything from IT support, helpdesk, sysadmin, network admin, and cloud computing. He is also certified in Microsoft Technologies (MCTS and MCSA) and also Cisco Certified Professional in Routing and Switching. Reach him at Twitter @usmank11

    14 thoughts on “How To Run Windows Update From Command Line”

    1. Thank you. Refurbished machine – needed to update in order to move from other machine to “new to me” machine after just getting ti to cooperate with the network. I have never run across a machine that would not update before. The cmd options did not work, but the PS option was exactly what I needed. Added to my bag of tricks. Thank you so much!!

      Reply
    2. usoclient.exe /StartScan does not update the shown ‘Last checked date’ shown in the GUI on a Windows Server 2016 or 2019.

      Reply
    3. PS C:\> Start-Service wuauserv -Verbose
      PS C:\> $updateSession = new-object -com “Microsoft.Update.Session”;$updates=$updateSession.CreateupdateSearcher().Search($criteria).Updates
      PS C:\> (New-Object -ComObject Microsoft.Update.AutoUpdate).DetectNow()

      This is work on a Windows 10 – the Last checked time is updated in the GUI
      BUT it’s not workting om Windows 2016 or 2019

      Any know of a way to make this work on a Server 2016 ??

      Reply
      • I don’t get any of these from article to work. Not even: Start-Service wuauserv -Verbose

        PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> Start-Service wuauserv -Verbose
        VERBOSE: Performing the operation “Start-Service” on target “wuauserv (wuauserv)”.
        Start-Service : Failed to start service ‘wuauserv (wuauserv)’.
        At line:1 char:1
        + Start-Service wuauserv -Verbose
        + ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        + CategoryInfo : OpenError: (System.ServiceProcess.ServiceController:ServiceController) [Start-Service],
        ServiceCommandException
        + FullyQualifiedErrorId : StartServiceFailed,Microsoft.PowerShell.Commands.StartServiceCommand

        Halp?

        Reply
    4. usoclient StartScan does NOT make any changes to the Last checked date shown in the GUI
      Neither does the Powershell command Get-WindowsUpdate

      In previous Windows I had to updating the Last checked value in registry after performing a scan using the API (as they dont). But MS has moved the location to an unknown place i 2016 and 2019.

      Anyone who knows how to update the “Last checked date” from CMD or API ???

      Reply
      • Function Force-WSUSCheckin($Computer)
        {
        Invoke-Command -computername $Computer -scriptblock { Start-Service wuauserv -Verbose }
        # Have to use psexec with the -s parameter as otherwise we receive an “Access denied” message loading the comobject
        $Cmd = ‘$updateSession = new-object -com “Microsoft.Update.Session”;$updates=$updateSession.CreateupdateSearcher().Search($criteria).Updates’
        & c:\bin\psexec.exe -s \\$Computer powershell.exe -command $Cmd
        Write-host “Waiting 10 seconds for SyncUpdates webservice to complete to add to the wuauserv queue so that it can be reported on”
        Start-sleep -seconds 10
        Invoke-Command -computername $Computer -scriptblock
        {
        # Now that the system is told it CAN report in, run every permutation of commands to actually trigger the report in operation
        wuauclt /detectnow
        (New-Object -ComObject Microsoft.Update.AutoUpdate).DetectNow()
        wuauclt /reportnow
        c:\windows\system32\UsoClient.exe startscan
        }
        }

        Reply
    5. It doesn’t work.

      Get-WindowsUpdate: The ‘Get-WindowsUpdate’ command was found in the module ‘PSWindowsUpdate’, but the module could
      not be loaded. For more information, run ‘Import-Module PSWindowsUpdate’.
      At line:1 char:1
      + Get-WindowsUpdate
      + ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      + CategoryInfo : ObjectNotFound: (Get-WindowsUpdate:String) [], CommandNotFoundException
      + FullyQualifiedErrorId : CouldNotAutoloadMatchingModule

      Reply
      • To remedy that, please try the following:
        1. Run Set-ExecutionPolicy -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted
        2. Run Import-Module PSWindowsUpdate
        3. Try running Get-WindowsUpdate again.
        This worked for me.

        Reply
    6. wuauclt is no longer available with Windows 10.
      You can use usoclient.exe instead.
      Parameters are /StartScan, /StartDownload, /StartInstall

      Reply

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