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What Happens If You Don’t Activate Windows 10?

This troubleshooting guide includes numerous strategies to assist customers in resolving What Happens If You Don’t Activate Windows 10 difficulties such as errors during the download or installation of updates, as well as other issues that may arise when upgrading Windows 10 to the most recent version (build).

Many Windows 10 PC owners encounter a variety of issues when installing a new critical Windows 10 update, and in most cases, the update installation error message, such as “Something Happened – Windows 10 Installation Has Failed” or “Feature update to Windows 10 Failed to Install” is ineffective in resolving the issue. (I’ve never understood why updating a system that works regularly takes so long and is so frequently unsuccessful.)

Unfortunately, there is no single solution to all of the difficulties that might arise when updating or upgrading Windows 10, so I decided to write this guide, which includes all of the solutions that I have used to tackle similar issues in the past.

Method 1: The update is unable to be installed.

Before we get into particular Windows update issues, let’s have a look at one of the more typical mistakes that can arise while trying to update Windows 10 or Windows 11 (yes, new OS, same old problems!).

The above-mentioned error code basically signifies that your update failed, and there are a few things you may do to fix it:

Method 2. Check your Windows Update options.

While installing updates, Windows will actually notify you of any issues that are discovered. You may receive a notice instructing you to attempt the update again later, or you may receive something more specific.

  1. Choose your launch options. Search for the Settings option in the bottom left search box to access it.
  2. Select Update & Security from the drop-down menu. Select Update & Security from the Settings menu. If you’re having trouble finding it, try the search bar at the top of the window.
  3. Look for any problems. The Update & Security section will be marked if Windows detects any problems when installing an update.
  4. (Optional) Select Advanced settings from the drop-down menu. You may receive more information and even examine your update history if you choose advanced options at the bottom of the Update & Security submenu. This will show you recently installed updates that were successful and allow you to delete them if necessary.

Method 3: Re-create the Windows Update Store folder on Windows.

The second way to fix update difficulties in Windows 10 is to re-create the Windows Update Store folder (“C:WindowsSoftwareDistribution“), which is where Windows saves downloaded updates. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Press the Windows + R keys at the same time to launch the run command box.
  2. Type services.msc in the run command box and press Enter.
  3. Select Stop from the context menu of the Windows Update service.
  4. Open Windows Explorer and go to the C:Windows directory.
  5. Select the “SoftwareDistribution” folder and delete it.

(At the “Folder Access Denied” popup, click Continue.)

  1. Shut down and restart your computer.
  2. From Microsoft’s support site, download and run the Windows Update Troubleshooter for Windows 10.
  3. Turn on your computer again.
  4. Check for and install any Windows updates that are available.

Method 4. Remove the Windows 10 Updates

Smaller Windows 10 updates can be uninstalled (to roll back builds, see the next section) by doing the following: “Settings -> Update & Security -> View update history -> Uninstall updates” on Windows.

Scroll down to the “Microsoft Windows” header in the main pane of this window to view all the KB and security updates for Windows 10 along with the dates they were installed. Simply uninstall it by right-clicking it and restarting your computer.

Method 5. Virus Attacks Could Be Affecting Your Computer

What happens if Windows 10 isn’t activated? Viruses may be possible to infect your computer!

“Running a non-genuine copy of Windows can put you at greater risk for viruses and other security dangers,” warns the statement on the Windows 10 activation page.

I’m not clear what Microsoft is getting at with this claim. I’m not sure how not activating Windows 10 makes your PC subject to “viruses and other security concerns” if you can upgrade your copy of Windows 10, which you can.

As you can see in the screenshot below, I’m using Windows Update to get updates.

You can also use a trial version of Windows 10 to install an antivirus. Your PC should be safe as long as you have antivirus installed and can update Windows.

However, because Microsoft owns the operating system, we should believe them when they say your computer is “at greater risk for malware and other security risks.”

Method 6. Patches and bug fixes

Windows 10 is without a doubt Microsoft’s best operating system to date. Microsoft has a habit of releasing automatic updates to improve the OS in order to keep the mighty operating system working smoothly.

Unfortunately, the frequent bug updates and patches are only available to those who have activated Windows 10.

If you’re running an unactivated version of Windows 10, you won’t get bug fixes and patches as regularly as those who have activated versions.

This can have an impact on your user experience, especially if you have issues with Microsoft apps or the operating system as a whole.

Method 7. Personalization options are limited.

While Windows 10 allows users to modify and configure a variety of settings, you won’t be able to perform much personalization if you use an unactivated version of the operating system.

Windows 10 is a little stingy with its customization options, allowing only users who have activated the operating system to alter and modify the display settings.

When using an unactivated Windows 10, you won’t be able to access some of the customization options listed below.


There are no significant consequences for failing to activate Windows 10. However, you’ll have to put up with an unappealing watermark and a lack of personalization.

If you choose to buy an activation key, the copy of Windows you buy will be yours for life. However, you can use Windows 10 for as long as you like without activating it.

Overall, even if you’re using the free edition of Windows 10, it’s a fantastic operating system. That said, if you appreciate using Windows 10 and its features, I recommend purchasing a license, both to remove the watermark and to help the developers.

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