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  1. #1
    iNET Interactive
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    How to completely reset Windows Update


    Best Practices

    How to completely reset Windows Update


    By Fred Langa

    Sometimes, Windows Update mysteriously fails; it freezes, refuses to install patches, or runs endlessly even on well-maintained systems.

    Fortunately, Microsoft has offered new tools and methods for fixing Windows Update troubles, including some specifically designed for Win10. Used singly or in combination with manual steps, these tools and procedures can clear up most updating problems.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/best-practices/how-to-completely-reset-windows-update/ (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
    New Lounger
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    Thanks Fred:

    Have a quick question. Does this Windows Update corrective action work on Windows RT tablets?

    I have a Dell tablet with Win RT (fully updated). It also has Office 2013.

    We see continuous Windows update fails, but they are exclusively attributed to MS Office updates, (NEVER windows RT itself). The MS provided error code points to useless troubleshooting info.

    Would the reset process you described work on Windows RT?

    Thanks in Advance for any advice,

    Lou Tognan

  3. #3
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    Not sure where I found this (it was a while back) but this one appeared to work for me many months ago when Win10 updates failed for me (need to run as administrator of course; just save it as a batch file).

    net stop wuauserv

    net stop cryptsvc

    net stop bits

    net stop msiserver

    ren C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.old

    ren C:\Windows\System32\catroot2 Catroot2.old

    net start wuauserv

    net start cryptsvc

    net start bits

    net start msiserver

    exit

  4. #4
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    Me too: another Win 7 update fail

    I had one of three PC's running Win 7 Pro with the never completing update cycle of Checking for Updates.

    The other PC has Win 10 Pro and a 2005 model Dell Win XP Pro laptop (can't be upgraded but runs almost like new).

    I did a System Restore and that didn't help. I ran the official MS Fix-it app for this issue but still nothing. After looking at the long list of official MS manual troubleshooting steps--I did a clean install of Win 10 Pro, reinstalled my programs, and restored data files from backup. At least Win 10 was free but it cost me a big chunk of time.

  5. #5
    3 Star Lounger
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    WU maladies

    the wu drove me crazy for several weeks.
    cpu at 100% slowed the machine considerably.
    my "band aid" solution: i am running the machine without wu.
    occasionally, i run a batch file which enable wu, then disables it again.
    it's not a solution, but helped me survival.

    after this last article, will give a try to the whole 12 , and see what happens.

    thank you very much

    daniel rozenberg
    Attached Files Attached Files

  6. #6
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    I guess I was a day late and a dollar short in getting this information. Fred always provides such good information and advice. My older Win7 (previously Vista) HP laptop was having trouble getting Windows Update to work for quite some time. I searched the web and tried several "solutions" but never had any success. My frustration and disappointment with Microsoft was at an all time high. Since this was not my primary work computer, I decided to replace Windows with Linux Mint. What a relief. I now have a secure and up-to-date computer that does everything I need. The only cost was the time I wasted trying to fix Windows Update. So disappointed in Microsoft's poor service in such an important aspect of the Windows OS.
    Last edited by DigitalDzigner; 2016-05-19 at 11:28.

  7. #7
    New Lounger
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    This update mess is Microsoft's own creation. They are the ones that need to fix it. I have to believe that with all the time and effort spent to rush out Windows-10; more time should have been spent fixing a twitchy and very fragile Update mechanism. Bad corporate choice. It is unreasonable to expect anyone to have to type in that extensive list of command lines in an attempt fix a "bad" update. Come on Microsoft! Get with the program and do something that actually helps your users.

  8. #8
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    My experience is this: Since I have 2 machines to update, I download the files a couple of days after they are released. I copy them to a USB drive for my wife's laptop. For both I run them one by one. On my desktop I seldom have much of a problem. What I see is that running a file, it "freezes" on a small window that says "Searching for updates on this computer". Sometimes this lasts for many minutes or "indefinitely". Looking in task manager shows that the process WUSA (I think that is it) is not using any CPU cycles even though the little window still shows "Looking for updates..." If it goes on too long, I kill the process and start over again.

    On both I applied recent "fix update" KB's (not what's in this article). They seemed to help the problem on the laptop. But it sill occurs on the laptop occasionally.

  9. #9
    New Lounger
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    Maybe Microsoft has it too easy. Overall, Windows (all versions) is the OS in the neighborhood of 70 to 75% of all PCs. Most PCs come from the manufacturer with Windows installed. There's a ton of good software for Windows. So Microsoft is making their money and looking to the future and figuring out how to make more. It appears fixing their update system is not very high on their list of priorities, at least for versions of Windows not 10. I guess the bottom line for users of aging computers is to pay up and get a new machine with Win10.

  10. #10
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    WU seems to be behaving lately (not sure why), though I have had problems up until recently. I guess I have MS to thank for the following, but I learned 2 interesting things along the way when I was trying to fix the long delay in Checking for Updates. One is that if WU started on its own, it does not show the progress in the progress bar when you launch it. I had to check Task Manager to see that it was running, continuously at 25% CPU cycles. I now only turn on the service when I want to check for updates. Second, at least for those of you who do not use a paging file [I know there are differing opinions on this], WU is quite the memory hog. When I stop the WU service, I pick up over 600MB of available memory.

    edit: Win7 Home Premium
    Last edited by MRCS; 2016-05-20 at 07:03.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TsarNikky View Post
    This update mess is Microsoft's own creation. They are the ones that need to fix it. I have to believe that with all the time and effort spent to rush out Windows-10; more time should have been spent fixing a twitchy and very fragile Update mechanism. Bad corporate choice. It is unreasonable to expect anyone to have to type in that extensive list of command lines in an attempt fix a "bad" update. Come on Microsoft! Get with the program and do something that actually helps your users.
    Those cmds look like the ones I've posted before as a general update fix but they don't always work.

    You can copy & paste the cmds en bloc to an admin cmd prompt instead of a manual entry where they'll auto run, except perhaps for the last one where you have to press enter.

  12. #12
    3 Star Lounger
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    WU

    i am FIRMLY CONVINCED that we are NOT Microsoft customers.
    WE are Microsoft HOSTAGES !!!!
    if i was a bit younger and had the time and energies, i would go to Linux Mint or Ubuntu.
    i tried Ubuntu once, but my difficulty was to import into its Thunderbird and Mozilla the respective settings now i have in the W7 machine i'm running. their Febe was difficult to configure, and i gave up. maybe, sometime in the future in one of those other machines i have sleeping in some shelf.

  13. #13
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    I thought that after I got update (Win7) working last month, that it would be back to normal this month - nope. I had to leave the "Checking for Updates" screen up for well over an hour before it came back with any results. It's hard to say just how long it actually did take because I wasn't sitting there staring at it the whole time.

    Plus, once I review and accept updates, it seems to take ages to download them as well.

    It has me rather wondering if the "Wouldn't you like to upgrade to Win10" stuff is slowing the updates down. I use GWX so it may be that it's wasting time trying to reset things which I then have to unset again.

    There is another thought that occurs to me but I'm not quite cynical enough to believe it - the slow down is happening because MS may have relegated Win7 update servers to a minor position to give more priority to Win10 servers. I've seen some even suggest that there is an intentional slowdown in the process so people will give up on Win7 and just upgrade - that ones even more far fetched.

    But, I think it's fairly safe to say that MS doesn't really care if the Win7 update process has problems any more. It's called benign neglect.
    Graham Smith
    DataSmith, Delaware
    "For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.", Arthur C. Clarke (1917 - 2008)

  14. #14
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    Mr. Smith is correct. MS has been slowing down the operation of its Update mechanism. MS can deny this all they want, but there is no arguing with the facts that searching for, downloading, and finally installing updates is much longer than when Windows-7 was first released...and even as late as when Windows-8 was unleashed.
    The desperation moves MS is doing to force Windows-10 on users who do not want it--at least with it current UI and mandatory update mechanism.

  15. #15
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    I think this is more the architecture of Windows Update than some nefarious plan. When Windows Update was designed and implemented Microsoft did not foresee a day when a particular version of Windows was going to be around for more than 6 years as Windows 7 SP1 has been. Microsoft had planned that Windows 8/8.1 would take over and be the dominant OS so the number of Windows 7 machines would be dramatically reduced and the support burden would gradually disappear. At the time Windows Update was designed and implemented Microsoft were releasing service packs and/or new versions of Windows about every year - 18 months. Each release whether a service pack or new version provided a new consolidated base that future patches were based on. The amount of precedence checking was dramatically reduced and only gradually increased until the next service pack. The longer a particular code base is in place the amount of work required by Windows Update to check your system and then the Microsoft precedence requirements is greatly increased. I read somewhere that since Windows 7 SP1 has been released over 1000 patches have been released. That means with an ancient (in computer terms) update architecture the time for any one machine is ridiculously long. We saw this with XP and it was not resolved until Microsoft analyzed the update database and removed patches which were no longer relevant so the precedence checking was dramatically reduced. For Windows 7 Microsoft has released several WU client updates which everyone should install (ignore the Win10 FUD about these). There is still the issue with many patches in their database which do not really need to be there.

    Note that going forward this will not be a problem with Win10 as monthly updates are cumulative. There is no precedence checking required.
    Joe

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