Fix Windows 11 Stuck on Preparing Windows | 5 Proven Methods!

Why Windows 11 stuck on preparing Windows screen and how to fix it? Read this article in detail to find your answer. You can back up your system in advance for possible future system problems.

Maggie

by Maggie Updated on October 31, 2023

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User Case: Windows 11 Stuck on Preparing Windows Screen

 

Computer stuck on “Preparing Windows” screen after initial Windows 11 install

“Hey everyone! Last night I attempted to download windows 11 on my computer (through the windows update app) and near the end of the installation, my computer froze on the “preparing windows” screen. It’s super frozen…. Loading dots aren’t moving, and it’s been like this for almost 9 hours. Wondering if anyone could let me know how to fix this, or what my next step should be. I’m a little afraid that if I turn my computer off, it will corrupt my files or damage something. Thanks In advance!!”

- Question from Reddit

Windows 11 Stuck on Preparing Windows

How Long Does Preparing Windows 11 Take?

Windows 11 stuck on "Preparing Windows" screen is the most common problem during Windows Update or logging into your account. Under normal circumstances, the Preparing Windows process should not take more than 20 - 30 minutes. These normal conditions include adequate power, as well as functioning disks, internal storage, etc.

You can increase this speed if you have an SSD and the update size is small. However, if you are using a traditional hard drive, expect a wait time of 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Why Computer Stuck on Preparing Windows Screen?

If you are stuck on the Preparing Windows interface for too long, it may affect your usage. Below I will list some possible causes of this error before giving the corresponding fix. Understanding why this Windows error occurred is the first step to preventing yourself from having this headache again in the future.

✿ Missing or corrupted files: When you perform regular Windows update on your PC, it is entirely possible that the setup skips important files or the files become corrupted due to external reasons. These external reasons may be power outages, overheating, etc. When these files are missing or corrupted, this causes the configuration to not know what it is supposed to do. Hence, causing you to get stuck on the Preparing Windows interface.
✿ Disk Errors: Disk errors are when there are unarranged disk resources or corrupted log files. Disk errors can affect Windows Update/Configuration settings, which is why regular disk defragmentation is important.
✿ Glitches: Glitches can also be the cause, as they can be caused by anything. For example, hardware problems can interrupt the Windows configuration process, thus causing you to get stuck on the Preparing Windows interface. Microsoft is currently working to fix all the known issues plaguing Windows 11, and even has a dedicated page on its website detailing what's being done.

How to Fix Windows 11 Stuck on Preparing Windows Issue

Now that we know what's causing this issue, you'll now learn how to fix the preparing Windows stuck issue that computer stuck on Preparing Windows using these 5 simple methods.

Method 1. Boot Windows into Safe Mode and Restart

To fix the issue that your computer stuck on “Preparing Windows” screen on Windows 11, you could first try booting the computer into Safe Mode and restart.

  1. Press the F11 key repeatedly while stuck on “Preparing Windows” screen. Do not stop pressing the key until you see the "Choose an option" screen. Click Troubleshoot to continue.

Troubleshoot

  1. Then select Advanced Options -> Startup Settings. When the Startup Settings window opens, click Restart at the lower-right corner. 

Restart

  1. Select F5 which is Enable Safe Mode with Networking. Your Windows 11 computer is now in Safe Mode.

Enter Safe Mode with Networking

  1. Close the Microsoft Edge window that appears. Hover over the Windows Start icon on the bottom bar and right-click it. Choose Shut down or sign out -> Restart from the expanded list.

Shut Down or Sign Out

  1. Once it restarts, your computer is free from the locked updating screen.

Method 2. Perform Automatic Startup Repair

Windows 11 has its own repair tools, and Startup Repair is a frequently used one among them. You can use it to scan and repair some PC issues like corrupted system files or invalid boot files.

  1. Press the F11 key repeatedly while stuck on “Preparing Windows” screen. Do not stop pressing the key until you see the "Choose an option" screen. Select Troubleshoot -> Advanced Options.
  2. Select Startup Repair in the menu.

Startup Repair

  1. It will take a few seconds to a few minutes to fix Windows 11 stuck on Preparing Windows interface. If this method didn't help you, try the methods below.

Method 3. Run SFC Scan to Repair System Files

The System File Checker (SFC) or sfc.exe is a utility in Microsoft Windows located in C:\Windows\System32 folder. This utility allows users to scan for and restore corrupt Windows system files. Any issues with your system's important components may lead to computer stuck on Preparing Windows screen. To run this command, follow the steps below:

  1. Press the F11 key repeatedly while stuck on “Preparing Windows” screen. Do not stop pressing the key until you see the "Choose an option" screen. Select Troubleshoot -> Advanced Options.
  2. Select Command Prompt from the menu.

Command Prompt

  1. In the Command Prompt, enter the following command and press Enter.

▶ sfc /scannow

SFC Scan

  1. After the scan is complete, you can choose to restart your computer now to verify if the problem persists.

Method 4. Run CHKDSK Command to Repair Disk Errors

A CHKDSK command is used to check any disk errors that might have caused the Windows 11 stuck on “Preparing Windows” error. To run a CHKDSK command, follow these steps:

  1. Enter into the Windows Recovery Environment and open Command Prompt window as showed above.
  2. In the Command Prompt window, type chkdsk C: / f /r and press Enter to check your system partition for corrupted, invalid or deleted system files.

CHKDSK

Method 5. Run System Restore with Command Prompt

If none of the above solutions can solve your Windows 11 stuck on Preparing Windows interface, you can consider whether to restore your Windows 11 system to its previous state. This will hopefully restore your Windows to a time when it didn't have this problem.

Note: This will not recovery any type of documents, music, emails or personal files.

  1. Enter into the Windows Recovery Environment and open Command Prompt window as showed above.
  2. Once the Command Prompt is showing, enter rstrui.exe at first in the Command Prompt window and press Enter to continue.

Rstrui.exe

  1. This command will bring you to the interface of System Restore. You can either use the recommended restore point or click Next to choose an available restore point. Then, follow the instruction to complete system restore.

System Restore

Quick Solutions for Windows 11 Stuck/System Issues

I believe that you can solve the problem of Windows 11 stuck on Preparing Windows interface through the above five methods. But it would take a lot of time and effort if a solution had to be found every time a different system problem arose.

Here I offer you a general solution. The next time you experience a similar problem or another serious problem (such as a system crash) that causes your computer to freeze or become unusable, you can use this method to restore your computer to a normal operating state.

The solution is you use the best free backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard to create a bootable media and Windows 11 system image backup. With the help of this bootable tool, you can restore the system backup created by AOMEI Backupper especially when your windows system has crashed and cannot boot up correctly.

Learn how to use this software to create a general solution to system problems. First, download and install this freeware on your computer (For Windows Server users, please turn to AOMEI Backupper Server).

Download FreewareWin 10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Create Windows 11 Rescue Media with AOMEI Backupper

  1. Insert a blank CD-R/-RW, DVD-R/-RW disc or plug in an empty USB stick into your computer.
  2. Start AOMEI Backupper, click Tools, select Create Bootable Media.

Create Bootable Media

  1. Select bootable disc type from Linux based or Windows PE based, and click Next.

Windows PE

✍ Note: Linux based bootable media only allows you to use basic functions of AOMEI Backupper, while Windows PE allows you to access full functions.

  1. Then you can select a storage media to create this Windows 11 bootable media and then click Next to run this process.

Three Bootable Media

  1. When the Windows 11 bootable media is created, turn to Backup -> System Backup to create Windows 11 system image backup. This software will select the system and boot partitions by default as the source. You just need to choose a destination path to save the system backup. You can backup system to the bootable media or backup to the cloud, etc.

System Backup

Restore System via AOMEI Bootable Drive

After creating bootable media and a system backup, you can use it to restore your system if something goes wrong with your computer.

  1. Connect the bootable media to the computer to be restored. Start your computer and press a specific key to boot into BIOS. Switch the bootable media as the first boot option. Then, press F10 to restart your computer and your computer load the intuitive interface of AOMEI Backupper.

BIOS

  1. Navigate to Restore tab, click Select Image File to locate the image backup file that you want to restore. Then click OK.

Select Image File

  1. Select to restore the entire backup and click Next. If needed, tick the option Restore system to other location.

Restore the Entire Backup

  1.  Then you can preview the summary of restoring operation, and then click Start Restore to start the process.

Preview Restore

✡ Tip: If you want to restore system with dissimilar hardware, you can enjoy “Universal Restore” feature in AOMEI Backupper Professional or other advanced versions.

To Sum Up

This article gives you 5 ways to fix Windows 11 stuck on the "Preparing Windows" screen. You can try them one by one in order. I believe these methods can help you fix this issue. You can also learn a quick fix for Windows 11 stuck or system issues.

Windows 11 has not been around for a long time, and there will inevitably be many problems during use. Microsoft also posted some known issues on the official website. If you have to find the corresponding solution every time a different problem arises, it will inevitably make people feel tired.

What's more, powerful software - AOMEI Backupper can not only protect your system, but also keep your data safe. You can use it to backup any disk on your computer. You can also use it to perform disk-to-disk clone to migrate data when you want to upgrade the hard drive on your computer.

Maggie
Maggie · Editor
Maggie is a technical editor from AOMEI and troubleshoots technical problems against data protection. She has received professional and systematic technical training. With a focus on user experience, security, and problem-solving, she always puts herself in the readers' shoes and provides them with valuable technical insights.