What is Windows Update Error 0xc0020036 on Windows 10?

Upgrading to the latest MS Windows 10 platform is an exciting moment as it comes with a host of features that enhance productivity and improve user experience. However, with Windows, not everything is in black and white. Expect to meet huddles throughout the experience with this leading operating system. We have been receiving some inquiries concerning the Windows 10 update error 0xc0020036. The error occurs during the activation of the Windows 10 operating system. If the platform is not activated, users cannot enjoy a full-scale of the system’s features. Just like any other purchased software, Windows 10 also requires an activation key, which is a series of numbers to unlock all features.

Upon upgrading your old MS OS to Windows 10, the new platform derives the product key and activation data from its predecessor. The data is then stored on the MS servers. However, if Windows installation has been cleaned, activation errors may occur. During the first Windows 10 clean-up installation on the same computer, the system pulls the activation data from the MS servers, hence the user will not experience errors. Users that utilize the WU (Windows Update) utility to download and install Windows 10 Case Creators Update, experience issues.

If concerned about what to do with the Windows Update error 0xc0020036, we have a couple of solutions in place. Based on our analysis, the error occurs mostly among users who have previously upgraded from an older version of Windows. Our analysis also reveals that the error is not concerned with piracy, considering that the affected users confirm their Windows 10 license keys are genuine.

What Causes Windows 10 Update Error 0xc0020036?

By carefully going through several report analysis and solutions that have been proven effective in resolving the error, it was found that there are various culprits liable to the update error message. These include:

  • Incorrect Activation Key – An incorrect license key can generate this Windows 10 update error 0xc0020036 message. Based on speculations, a product key can change when transformed into a digital license, hence leading to this error. In such a scenario, it’s best to find and re-enter the correct key or contact MS support.
  • Corrupt Windows 10 Update – A bad Windows 10 update can lead to activation errors. If this is the case, updating the Windows operating system to the latest build can help solve the issue.
  • Corrupt License Key – The Activation wizard might have likely failed to erase old license keys conventionally for the new one to take effect. To resolve the error, use an elevated CMD to erase existing registry keys before activating a new one.
  • Corrupt System File – The error might occur because of system file corruption. If that’s the case, the solution is to use Windows 10 built-in tools such as SFC and DISM to resolve the error.
  • Hard-wired License Key in the Registry – A hard-wired key to the Registry occurs when the legitimate copy of Windows 10 was obtained through the free-upgrade MS offer. Therefore, the error might occur when switching to a different license. The solution to this scenario is to adjust the sppsv value through the Registry Editor.

How to Fix Error 0xc0020036 on Windows 10?

Below, we have listed a couple of solutions that can resolve the issue causing this error message. We have listed the solutions in efficiency as well as severity order. Therefore, we advise following them in the manner. Note that the solutions provided are only for consumers with genuine Windows 10 versions and will not work on pirated operating systems.

Solution 1: Verify Product Activation Key

The Windows 10 update version 1803 broke the free activation option from older versions of Windows 8.1 and 7. So, to solve the issue, users are required to reenter the activation key via the Update and Security feature. To find the activation key, use third-party tools that can auto-read Windows 10 product key. Here is how you can find the activation key for Windows 10:

  1. Download the tool here and install it. Once the tool has finished the installation, having granted it UAC for administrative privileges, the system’s activation key will be displayed.
    Note: Skip the first step if you already have the correct key
  2. Now that the key is in possession, simultaneously press Windows key + R to launch the Run dialog. Insert ms-settings:activation into the text box and hit Enter. The Activation window will open.
  3. Under the Activation tab, select Add Product key, and insert the obtained activation key. Choose Next, then follow the prompts.
  4. Restart the system to check if Windows 10 is activated.

Solution 2: Update Your Windows Version to the Latest Build

If the previous solution did not help, the next culprit is a bad Windows Update, which was released towards the end of 2018. Microsoft released a hotfix for the issue shortly after. Therefore, if the issue is caused by a bad Windows Update, updating the system to the latest Windows build can do the trick. As confirmed by Microsoft, updating Windows 10 to version 1803 or later can automatically resolve update error 0xc0020036. Here is how to update to a later Windows 10 build:

  1. Launch the Run dialog by pressing Windows key + R simultaneously. Into the text field, insert ms-settings:windowsupdate and hit Enter.
  2. Windows Update will launch. Select Check for updates and follow the prompts to ensure all updates have been installed.
    If the system requires a restart before finishing the installation of all updates, do so, but get back to the same window after rebooting.
  3. Once Windows 10 build has been updated, retry activating the license.

Solution 3: Delete Existing Activation Key

The error can be generated due to inconsistency within the Activation wizard. An elevated CMD can be used to solve the issue. Users must run a series of commands to delete the registry key. Once done, the system must be rebooted before trying to activate the license. Here is how to uninstall and clear an existing activation key in the Registry:

  1. Launch the Run dialog, then type cmd before simultaneously pressing Ctrl + Shift + Enter to launch an elevated Command Prompt.
    Select Yes when prompted by the UAC to provide administrative privileges.
  2. Now, inside the Command Prompt, insert the command below and hit Enter.
    slmgr /upk
    This act will uninstall the stored product activation key.
  3. Once successfully uninstalled, insert the command line below and hit Enter.
    slmgr /cpky
    This will clear the current product activation key.
  4. Wait for the procedure to finish before closing the elevated Command Prompt. Restart the system and initiate the Run dialog by pressing Windows key + R.
  5. Type ms-settings:activation and hit Enter. The Activation tab will launch. Select Add Product key and insert the new activation key.

Solution 4: Use SFC and DISM to Scan the System

Both of these Windows 10 built-in tools are capable of fixing corrupt system files. However, they only differ in the way they do it. SFC uses archives stored locally to scan and fix corrupt system files, while DISM depends on Windows Update to replace affected files. Since both of these tools complement each other, we advise using them both to ensure positive results. Here is how to initiate SFC and DISM scans:

  1. Launch the Run dialog by pressing Windows key + R. Type cmd before pressing Ctrl + Shift + Enter to initiate an elevated Command Prompt. Click Yes if prompted to give administrative privileges by the UAC.
  2. Insert the command below and hit Enter to start the SFC scan process.
    sfc /scannow
  3. When done, repeat step 1 and this time, insert the following command in the elevated Command Prompt window:
    DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
    This will launch the DISM scan. However, before initiating this procedure, ensure that the system has a stable internet connection since the tools require internet access to replace affected files.
  4. Once done, reboot the system and check if the issue has been resolved by activating the license key.

Solution 5: Get In-Touch with MS Activation Centre

If all of the above attempts hit a dead end, try to contact Microsoft License activation centre. The most effective communication method with the activation centre is via a phone call. Dial the toll-free number which varies depending on the specific country.

Solution 6: Change the sppsv key Value through Registry Editor

Registry Editor utility can be of help in solving the Windows update error 0xc0020036 message. Changing the file concerned with sppsv utility via the Registry Editor will alter the key-value and fix the issue. Here is how to adjust the sppsv key value through Registry Editor:

  1. Launch the Run dialog. Insert regedit into the text field before hitting Enter to open the Registry Editor utility. Give administrative privileges by clicking Yes if prompted by the User Account Control.
  2. Navigate to the address below via the left-hand pane:
    Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\sppsvc
  3. Once you have accessed the location, look for the value labelled ‘Start’ and double-click on it. A Property screen will launch.
  4. Set the Base to Hexadecimal, then adjust the Value Data to 2.
  5. When the adjustments have been done, close the Registry Editor window and reboot the system. Try to reactivate to see if the activation error 0xc0020036 issue is solved.

If none of the solutions provided above works, we recommend utilizing a reliable PC Repair tool to scan and resolve corrupt and missing system files. The tool will also optimize the computer for better performance.

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