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The realistic guide to fixing Office 365/Office 2019 update problems

The error messages on Office 365/2019  setup and update are notoriously unhelpful, so here’s a guide to fixing Office install or update problems that work out here in the real world.

Error messages like the infamous ‘Something went wrong” should be taken with a large pinch of salt.  The error message is often misleading and the error code is non-specific.  See “Something went wrong” fixing a bad Office 365 update

Internet connectivity

Office ‘Click to Run’ updates need an Internet connection.  Common Office update error messages often mention ‘downloading updates’ as the problem but often that’s simply not true.

Still, best to check your internet access is working and stable. The speed doesn’t matter much but the connection can’t drop out too often.

As a very rough ‘rule of thumb’, if you can stream video from YouTube, Netflix etc without trouble then your internet connection should be more than enough for Office install or update.

Also try …

Check there’s enough free disk space.  There’s no fixed value but anything less than 5GB of free disk space could be a problem.

Some people get Office update to work simply by restarting the computer.  It’s worth a try.

Repair options

One of these three repair steps will fix the vast majority of problems. Try these in order, after each one try updating Office again.

Office repair options are available from Control Panel | Programs and Features then scroll down to Microsoft Office (365/2019 etc).

Quick Repair

Select Microsoft Office from the Programs and Features list then click Change, after the admin prompt there are the Office repair options.

Try ‘Quick Repair’.  This checks for some obvious problems and, hopefully, fixes them.

After Quick Repair is done, try updating Office again.

Online Repair

Online Repair is a more extensive check and fix system.

After Online Repair is done, again try updating Office.

You might be wondering why a failed update doesn’t automatically trigger one of the Repair options? It’s just one of the unexplained mysteries of Office install and update.

Uninstall then reinstall

If the two repair options don’t help, you need to go ‘all the way’ and uninstall Office 365 / 2019 then reinstall it.

Frankly, the two ‘repair’ options don’t seem to help much with update problems.  Experienced Office users have learnt to skip the two repair choices and jump straight to uninstall/reinstall.

The good news is that settings and account details are retained after a standard uninstall of Office 365 or Office 2019.  If you uninstall Office then reinstall all your settings are preserved, including Office ‘Insider’ status, if any.  In other words after reinstalling Office you should be right back where you were before the Office troubles started.

Reinstalling Office with the online ‘Click to Run’ setup means you’ll get the latest version/build of Office which is what you were trying to do with the update.

The bad news is that settings and account details are retained after a standard uninstall of Office 365 or Office 2019 <sigh>.  Occasionally it’s those settings which are causing the troubles.

Clean Office from your computer

99% plus of update problems should be fixed by one of the repair options or uninstall/reinstall.

If that fails, it’s time to totally scrub Office from the computer.

Microsoft has an ‘Uninstall Support Tool’ that’s supposed to ‘scrub’ all traces of Office from a computer.  The word ‘scrub’ is in the file name “ SetupProd_OffScrub.exe

If even that doesn’t help, there are manual steps to removing Office.  Thankfully such a laborious process is rarely needed.


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