What To Do Frozen Windows Update

During the day, I refuse to reboot my laptop unless it’s absolutely necessary because I never know when Windows will try to install an update. Installations normally finish pretty quick and I can continue, but a few months ago I rebooted and the installation just sat there forever. The screen said it was installing x out of y updates with blinking periods. I wasn’t sure if it was doing something or not, so I left it. After a few hours I was really starting to wonder. I finally ended up researching what to do on the internet using my other laptop.
The same thing happened to me yesterday. I let the install go for 5 hours before interrupting it.
What I did was hold the power key down for about 10 seconds. The laptop turned off. I pushed the power button again to turn it back on and chose startup in Safe Mode. Safe Mode took care of whatever the issue was and booted into Windows. I then restarted into normal windows mode. Things seem ok except whenever an app called 4shared Desktop tries to start, it gives an error message. No big deal since I don’t use it anyways.
5 hours is a good length of time to wait, 2 – 3 hours minimum, before killing a Windows update. One site I read even said to wait 30 minutes. I’d rather wait a little longer just to be sure. Killing a Windows update when it’s actually doing something might cause more harm than good.
BTW, my laptop is an HP Pavilion dv5 running Windows 7.