The “joys” of Windows Update not working in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8/8.1 and 10 are numerous: not receiving or not being able to install updates, repeated installation of same updates, or in worse cases, endless reboot cycles in Windows Vista and later.
First, check if you have enough free disk space (at least 1 gigabyte) on your hard drive. If not, read the Remove temporary files article on how to get rid of unnecessary files with CCleaner.
Second, verify that time and date are correct on your PC – a date in the past or the future prevents both Windows Update and Genuine Windows Validation tool from working properly.
Third, run a disk check to verify that file system is not corrupt.
Fourth, have you tried restarting your computer? The simple move might fix problems with locked files and make everything right again.
There are options for quickly fixing Windows Update problems or completely reinstalling it in Windows. You can run the tools listed below in Safe Mode with Networking, although they might then tell you that problems were not fixed.
Windows Update requirements
Windows 8 (not 8.1) stopped receiving updates after 12th of January, 2016. Current users can upgrade for free to Windows 8.1 via Windows Store. As Windows 8 has many unpatched critical security flaws by now, those not wanting to upgrade to Windows 8.1 should perform a clean installation of some other version of Windows (7 or 10).
Windows 7 devices must have Service Pack 1 installed to continue receiving security fixes via Windows Update. Clean installations without Service Pack 1 might fail to start BITS and Windows Update services. Either use the link above to download SP1 (the huge ISO file in the list applies to all Windows 7 computers), or use WSUS Offline Update to download and install all necessary prerequisites, SP1 and latest security updates.
Windows XP users must have Service Pack 3 installed to use Windows Update or Microsoft Update. Without it, “Error number: 0x80190194” failure message appears while searching for updates. Please note that all support for Windows XP has ended and the current users should really consider upgrading to Windows 7 or newer due to the huge number of critical security flaws in XP.
Common Windows Update problems
Error 0x80240016 (or just 80240016) means that another installation is in progress, or Windows Update is already installing some updates. If you are currently installing some software, let the process finish and then retry applying updates after about a minute. Otherwise, give Windows Update about 10-15 minutes to finish what it’s doing.
Error 0x80240030 in Windows Update might mean that Internet Explorer proxy settings are bad (even when you’ve never used a proxy). To fix this, open IE’s Tools menu (ALT+X), choose Internet Options and open the Connections tab. Click LAN settings in the bottom of the window and reverse the current setting of the Automatically detect settings check box. Click OK two times to apply the new setting and close the Internet Options window, then go back, restore the original automatic detection setting and click OK twice again. This clears the bad proxy settings and you can retry installing updates.
Windows Vista and 7 slow while searching for or installing updates (fixed in July, 2016)
Since October of 2015, many users are complaining that Windows Vista and 7 look for and install new updates extremely slowly. While the PC itself works fine, searching for updates takes 8-12 or more hours to complete.
- If you are having such problems with a brand new Windows Vista/7 installation or a computer that has not been updated for a long time, make sure your device has Windows Vista Service Pack 2 or Windows 7 Service Pack 1 installed.
- July 2016 update rollup for Windows 7 SP1 (KB3172605) finally resolved this problem for all users: download and apply the correct version (x86 for 32-bit Windows or x64 for 64-bit Windows). To verify, right-click Computer in Start menu or on Desktop and see what’s written after System type.
In case this patch fails to apply for some reason, let Windows Update run for at least 8 hours without interruptions. Sadly, 3-4 hours is just not enough. For example, start the updating process before going to sleep and then check if the process has completed by the next morning. This is the most common solution to the slow Windows Update matter.
- Finally, you can use WSUS Offline Update to create a USB drive or a DVD with all required patches. For a USB drive, tick the Copy updates for selected products into directory check box above the Start button and choose your drive. For a DVD, tick the Create ISO images and per selected product and language check boxes.
Windows Vista is listed under the Legacy products tab.
Please do note that this tool can also take 8 or more hours to complete searching for updates if you run it on the same PC that has problems with Windows Update. To complete the process way faster, run WSUS Offline Update on a device that has Windows XP or 10 installed, or on a fully patched Windows Vista/7 device.
Some people report that stopping the Windows Update service before running WSUS Offline Update also speeds the process up considerably.
Windows 7, 8/8.1 or 10 not starting after applying updates
In case your computer crashes with error code 0xc000021a (and displays error “Your PC couldn’t start properly” with code 0xc0000001 after several reboots) right after installing latest updates, you need to run disk check to fix file system corruption. Instructions are available for Windows XP, Windows Vista and 7, Windows 8 and 8.1 and Windows 10.
If the same error appears even after file system repairs, you must boot into Command Prompt of Windows RE (just like in the fixing disk errors tutorial linked above) and run DISM to revert pending actions. This command is available only in Windows 7 and later.
In Command Prompt, type
dism.exe /image:D:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions and press ENTER to run the command. Replace D:\ with the correct letter of the drive where Windows is installed (use
bcdedit | find /i "OSDEVICE" command to determine the drive letter). Ignore error messages about scratch directory size.
Close Command Prompt window and reboot your PC. Windows should start normally now.
Alternative solutions to error 80070003 (please try other solutions first!)
If downloading or applying updates fails with error 80070003 (or 0x80070003) even after using all tools listed in this tutorial (do use these first!) please see the first solution (missing or corrupted Sessions folder) in the Fix Windows Update error 80070003 like a boss tutorial at www.winhelp.info.
In case upgrading to Windows 10 fails with error 80070003, please see the second solution (bad partitioning) in the same tutorial.
.NET patch failures
In case applying .NET Framework patches ends with errors 66A or 8007066A, you need to run the Microsoft .NET Framework Repair Tool.
Microsoft Office patches failing
When your device fails to apply patches and updates to only Microsoft Office or its components (Access, Excel, OneNote, Project, PowerPoint, Word, Visio, etc), the problem is not usually caused by Windows Update components.
To fix Office update problems, open Programs and Features (or Uninstall a program or Add/Remove Programs) in Control Panel, locate and click Microsoft Office <edition and version> (e.g. Microsoft Office Standard 2013 or Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus) in the results and click Change. Choose the option to Repair Microsoft Office installation. If needed, restart your device after the process completes. After this, Office patches should apply normally.
Windows Update slow and resource-hungry in Windows XP
If you experience serious and prolonged (several hours) slowdowns in Windows XP while Windows Update is searching for updates, and Task Manager shows that svchost.exe is constantly using 99-100% of CPU resources, This applies both to brand new (aka clean) installs of Windows XP Service Pack 3, and to those who have long turned off automatic updates and now want to apply latest patches.
If you experience trouble with Windows Store (updating apps, browsing or opening the Store, etc), open Start, type wsreset, right-click the result and choose Run as administrator.
As usual, User Account Control pops up, click OK. After a while, Windows Store cache is cleared and you can probably use the app normally. If not, run the wsreset command again without the administrator option.
But if you are still facing issues with Modern UI/Windows Store/Metro apps, please see how to fix Photos, PC Settings, or all apps.
The same tutorial offers a solution for the 0x80073cf9 error while installing or updating Windows Store apps.
In Windows 10, if you see error message “Try that again, see details” with error code 0x803F8001 while updating apps via Windows Store, see the link above and follow the last solution: Fixing all installed apps at once with PowerShell.
Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 users can open Start screen, or on touch screens, swipe in from the right edge of screen and tap Search icon. Type troubleshoot and click or tap Troubleshooting.
Then click Fix problems with Windows Update in the System and Security section.
Click Advanced, verify that Apply repairs automatically is enabled and click the Run as administrator link.
This method is the first step in resolving errors 0x800b0100 and 0x80246002 (files required by Windows Update might be corrupt), 0x80073712 (a file needed by Windows Update is damaged or missing), 0x8024401C, 0x80072efd and 0x8007066A or 66A (couldn’t connect to the Windows Update servers) and 0x8024a000 (Automatic Updates was unable to service incoming requests).
You might have to restart your computer for changes to take effect.
Please note that Windows Update troubleshooter might fail to fix issues during the first run – common example is update database corruption (updates do not finish downloading, or installation never completes). In such case, just run the troubleshooter once or twice more. If this does not resolve the problems, see Option 1b below, or use DISM to repair Windows Update.
Automated troubleshooter works in Windows versions from 7 to 10. For Windows 8 and newer, this is an updated version of the built-in troubleshooter.
Windows XP and Vista users can follow the steps listed on the same How do I reset Windows Update components page to resolve Windows Update problems manually.
This method usually resolves errors 0x80070002 and 0x80070003 (some files in the Windows Update are missing, even though the update is downloaded and extracted successfully), plus many other simpler ones.
Open Microsoft’s How do I reset Windows Update components page.
Click the Download and run the Windows Update Troubleshooter link for your operating system: Windows 10; or Windows 8.1, 8 and 7.
After downloading and launching the WindowsUpdate.diagcab or the WindowsUpdateDiagnostic.diagcab file, click Next.
The Find and fix problems with Windows Update tool will then attempt multiple repairs. This usually takes several minutes. Click Close the troubleshooter after the process is complete.
Please note that in Safe Mode the Fix status column will always state “Not fixed” because the Automatic Updates service cannot be started.
Please note that the troubleshooter might fail to fix issues during the first run – common example is update database corruption (updates do not finish downloading, or installation never completes). In such case, just run the troubleshooter once or twice more.
If required, restart your PC. After this, you can test if Windows Update works correctly.
In case problems are persisting, Windows XP, Vista and 7 users should try Option 2 below, and Windows 8/8.1 and 10 users should use DISM to repair Windows Update.
Fix It 50202 works in Windows XP, Vista and 7 only.
If the first option did not help, Microsoft also has the very powerful Fix It Tool 50202 that completely reinstalls Windows Update components. This one is especially helpful in cases where Windows Update is not able to check for updates (for example, error 800700C1) or installs the same updates all over again (several cases with infinite loops of .NET Framework updates).
Do not use this Fix It to repair slow searching for updates in Windows 7 SP1 – the solution to this is provided in the beginning of this tutorial, the “Common Windows Update problems” section.
Because Microsoft deprecated this tool, I provide direct download link to Fix It Tool 50202. Please save the file, do not run it automatically!
After downloading is complete, run the program (named MicrosoftFixit50202.msi).
Click I Agree in the License Terms page and then click Next.
As you can see, the Run aggressive options (not recommended) check box on Additional options screen is unchecked. I strongly suggest to execute the repairs without enabling aggressive options for the first time – this will retain all Windows Update and Microsoft Update settings.
In Windows Vista and 7, User Account Control will appear. Click Continue or Yes.
The tool will then create a System Restore point and run the fixes. Some files might be downloaded during the process.
After the program has done its job, click Close.
A prompt to restart your computer appears. Save open documents and close all open programs. Then click Yes.
Verify that Automatic Updates, Windows Update or Microsoft Update works. If not, re-run the Fix It Tool 50202, but tick the Run aggressive options (not recommended) check box this time.
After using aggressive options, you must configure Windows Update again.
Using the aggressive options also clears update history, but the list of applied updates can still be found in Control Panel.
In Windows XP, open Control Panel and click Add/Remove Programs. Then tick the Show updates check box and choose Date Last Used from the Sort by combo box. The latter sorts updates by their install date.
In Windows Vista and newer, open Control Panel and click Programs and Features (or Uninstall a program if using Category view). Then click View installed updates on the left.
To sort the list by date, click Installed On column once. Clicking it again reverses the sort order.
Option 3: install System Update Readiness Tool in Windows Vista and 7
System Update Readiness Tool is available for Windows Vista and 7 only. It can resolve problems with broken update packages and damaged system files.
Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 alternative for SURT is DISM – scroll down to Option 4.
This method often fixes errors 0x80073712 and 0x800B0100, a file needed by Windows Update is damaged or missing.
Windows Update error 80246002 (Windows could not search for updates) in Windows 7 is another example where other tools fail and System Update Readiness Tool works perfectly. The trouble often starts after automatic upgrade of Windows Update Agent to version 7.6.7600.320 in August, 2014.
Go to Microsoft’s What is the System Update Readiness Tool? page and download the package that applies to your computer. Please see Windows article for instructions on how to find out which version and architecture your device has.
Click Download again in Microsoft Download Center page. Please note that the file is over 200 megabytes in size for 32-bit Windows, and over 500 megabytes for 64-bit Windows.
After launching the downloaded package, click Yes to install it.
System Update Readiness Tool installation takes easily 10 minutes or more to finish, even over an hour on slower computers is possible. It does not usually require a reboot.
Click Close after the installation is complete. Windows Update should be running fine now.
Option 4: run DISM in Windows 8, 8.1 and 10
DISM (Deployment Imaging and Servicing Management) is the System Update Readiness Tool alternative in Windows 8 and newer.
This method often resolves errors 0x80073712 and 0x800B0100, a file needed by Windows Update is damaged or missing. It also fixes updates not starting or finishing downloading, or installations never completing.
To run the tool, open elevated Command Prompt: either open Start screen, type cmd, right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as administrator; or if you’ve set to display Command Prompt in Taskbar Navigation settings, use keyboard shortcut WINDOWS KEY+X to bring up Quick Links menu (a list of commands for power users) and click Command Prompt (Admin).
In the black window, type
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth and press ENTER key to fix the corruption. The process can last up to 15 minutes and positive result reads: “The restore operation completed successfully. The component store corruption was repaired.”
Retry Windows Update after this.
If DISM fails to repair component store corruption, run sfc /scannow in the same elevated Command Prompt window and check the results. When SFC (System File Checker) reports no errors, retry DISM.
If SFC does report errors and is unable to fix some of them, run it once more and then retry DISM.
In case the RestoreHealth command fails no matter what, it is best to perform a non-destructive reinstall of Windows 8, 8.1 or 10. This seems to be the only solution to the infamous DISM error 0x800f081f.
Please note that Windows 10 version 1511 (build 10586.36) has a known bug that causes error 0x800f081f to appear even when the component store is fine. To verify Windows version and build, open Start, type winver and click the result. This problem has been resolved in newer Windows 10 versions.
Next steps if all options fail
In case neither of the recommended actions help you get Windows Update running, do not rush into formatting drives and performing clean install of Windows.
If downloading or applying updates still fails with error 80070003 (or 0x80070003) even after using all tools listed in this tutorial (do use these first!) please see the first solution (missing or corrupted Sessions folder) in the Fix Windows Update error 80070003 like a boss tutorial at www.winhelp.info.
In case upgrading to Windows 10 fails with error 80070003, please see the second solution (bad partitioning) in the same tutorial.
You can run a non-destructive reinstallation (aka in-place upgrade) of Windows. This will keep your personal files and settings, installed drivers, programs and apps, and return Windows to a fully working state. This method usually helps when nothing else resolves errors 0x80070BC9 (the request operation failed, a system reboot is required to roll back changes made), 0x80073712 (a file needed by Windows Update is damaged or missing) and 0x80070005 (access is denied).