Windows Update Not Working or Fails; Reset Windows Update Settings

This is mostly seen with WSUS but I have run into it from time to time through regular day to day items.

While working on a server today I kept being informed that the Windows Updates were failing. When checking the Windows Update log file I found the error. From there I went about fixing it.

Turns out the junior guys were confused as I said “Ah.” and dropped to a command prompt. That reminded me that sometimes I really need to explain what is going on in my head to others.

This issue is really easy to fix. It usually happens when there is a problem with the installation of an update. In this case I found that the C: drive was in the middle of compressing files and it so happened that one of the folders was the “softwaredistribution” folder where updates are stored to be installed.

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Open a command prompt. (If you don’t know how please contact a technical support person)
  2. regsvr32 /u wuaueng.dll
  3. del C:\WINDOWS\SOFTWAREDISTRIBUTION
  4. del C:\WINDOWSUPDATE.log (if this tells you that it is in use just go to the next step).
  5. Regsvr32 wuaueng.dll
  6. Net start wuauserv
  7. Wuauclt.exe /resetauthorization /detectnow

There you go, you should be able to request Windows Updates and they will download and install as you expect.

Post here if you have any questions.

UPDATE 11/14/2008:
It has come to my attention, thanks to others posting, that there is another error you might receive in Vista(r) that the above steps will not help you.  That is error 80070246.  You may find it in your event logs as

STOP 0x80070246
ERROR_ILLEGAL_CHARACTER

This denotes a problem in your GlobalInstallOrder.xml file.  Following is a link to the Microsoft Knowledge Base article that will walk you through the steps to complete to fix this error:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/942968

Please, if you have any questions/comments post them here where all can see.

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26 Responses to “Windows Update Not Working or Fails; Reset Windows Update Settings”

  1. NOTE:
    If after you have completed the above steps you still get failures, no worries!

    Unregister the .dll again, ensure that the files listed above are delete (from a c:> folks not c:\Documents and Settings\User>), then restart the server/pc.
    When the server is back online go ahead and go to the Windows Update website. It will tell you that components are not registered. Let it handle this for you automatically. You will be asked to reboot.
    Once this final reboot is completed you can go to the Windows Update site and all is right with your world once more.

    These fixed some of the common problems I was hearing from people. Also, as I have posted the solution here, please post any questions here. That way perhaps you might get a response earlier than thinking I’m just out of my mind. 🙂

  2. Hi — How do I get to the C:> prompt? I’m logged in as admin, but I can’t get out of the Docs&Settings/Admin line of the cmd window.

  3. Once you open the command prompt you default to: C:\Documents and
    Settings\%username%>

    From there type: cd\
    Then press enter.

    This will bring you to the: C:\>

    From there you can run the commands.

    Feel free to contact me via the blog for any other assistance you might need.

    – Taz

  4. Hi — went fine, but using Win Update turns on IE 7 goes to the WU page, then leaves a blank screen. Status note at bottom of page says done, 100%. Anything else I can try?

  5. Hi — All fine now. Here’s what worked. In cmd window at C:\> prompt–
    regsvr32 jscript
    regsvr32 vbscript
    regsvr32 /i mshtml

    After that, everything started working without a reboot. Found this info on another site, posted by Pathensley, 5 years ago. Others report success using the MS Script update 5.6–
    WindowsXP-Windows2000-Script56-KB917344-x86-enu.exe

    Thanks for everything!

  6. I tried what you have recommended for resetting the windows update, but it does not work for me.

    I have been getting window update failures with and error code of 80070246.

    I have tried searching everywhere on the net but there is no actual solution to this windows update error.

    I am on Windows VISTA. If you could help me please.

  7. Yes with Vista(r) it is a bit different. It is covered in Microsoft KB942968. The steps for that are found here:
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/942968

    I will update this post this afternoon with the steps and see if I can replicate your issue by purposely “fudging” the GlobalInstallOrder.xml file.

    Let me know if the above helps you out or not.

    Thanks for keeping it here for others to see as well!

  8. thanks for your support. mine says ‘not found’ in the command prompt. what do i do. when i click on windows update, the site refuses to load instead it searches. pls i need your help. what can i do? thanks.

  9. hey i have window xp i have plm with update install which it wont work can u explain how it work

  10. I followed the instructions to step 4 then received the following message:

    System error 1058 has occurred. The service cannot be started, either because it is disabled or because it has no enabled devices associated with it.

    Any ideas why this happened?

  11. The error moved to step 6 this time: Step 6 is:
    net start wuauserv

    I got this far and got the System Error 1058 this time. The message indicated The Service cannot be started, either because it is disable or because it has no enabled devices associated with it.

    Further but still not fixed.

    I had previously tried the other 6 steps you had given me but they didn’t work either. I tried them again today hoping against hope. However, it didn’t work again.

    Thanks for your help. If you feel comfortable giving me a phone number I don’t mind calling you at my expense. I just want to get this “darn” thing fixed.

    I used to do software maintenance on mainframes and I thought that was difficult. I’ve been working on PC platforms for about 5 years now teaching kids how to build them and do some minor repair work but this is ridiculous. It is even more ridiculous that Microsoft won’t talk to anyone directly. If only I could change the world. Let me know.

  12. Steve Jarvis Says:

    Hi!

    I just wanted to thank you!!

    This solved my problem which has taken DAYS to resolve!

    I contacted Microsoft ywice and still today no answer and their FAQ was no help.

    I could not turn on Windows Automatic Update and even in Intenet Settings it shows as on already but still it would not work and I could use the Update service.

    I followed the steps above and it worked!! FANTASTIC!! THANK YOU!!

    My problem came up with lots of answers but none worked like it being caused by Vundo, malware, Spyware or a possible virus like a Trojan.

    I checked for all of these problems and it came up with nothing and my PC seemed to be perfectly clean with no issues found yet the problem remained until I found your page today dated 8th February 2009.

    Well, all I can say is thanks again and I hope this helps others to resolve the similar problem I had.

    Regards
    Steve, London UK.

  13. THANKS THANKS THANKS!!!!

    I got a Malware that took the BITS service down, after days researching this is the ONLY solution that worked !!!!!!!!!!!

    THANKS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. This worked PERFECT for me! Hadnt been able to update in a while, then after this worked perfectly.. Thanks!!!

  15. I have windows vista and have not been able to download updates since Oct 2008. I keep getting error code 8007005. Spoke with Dell yesterday and they say they can fix the problem for $69. US. Can you help?
    Tks

  16. Sorry, that error number should read 80070005.
    Fred

    • Fred,

      With Vista there is also a twist. Make sure you navigate to Start>Settings>Control Panel> Windows Update>Change Settings
      Ensure that the Update Service check box is checked to use “Microsoft Update”

      This is typically why the 80070005 error shows up. If that box is selected you should be able to complete the other steps outlined in here to start working again. Please let us know if this helps or not.

  17. Sorry, no that did not help. I had “microsoft update” selected for automatic install at 3:00 am everyday. I unchecked the boxes – reselected them and did a reboot but I still get “Windows can’t check for updates” error 80070005. Any other suggestions?
    Fred

  18. Not that I’m impressed a lot, but this is a lot more than I expected for when I stumpled upon a link on SU telling that the info here is awesome. Thanks.

  19. Great information, Spent way too much time on your site and not getting my work done 🙂

  20. Aviotic Says:

    Hopefully you can help me.

    I am running windows xp home and I try to visit the windows update site and when I try my browser opens and it goes to my homepage nothing more. I have ran norton internet security 09, webroots spy sweeper, and regcure to try to fix any problems and find any viruses and spyware. After everything I still get sent to my homepage only.

    i have tried a few of the tricks you recommended and to no avail still not working…

    your help and expertise would be appreciated,

    Aviotic

  21. If this helps anyone…

    Check out the following URLs from MS…

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/971058

    http://blogs.technet.com/fixit4me/archive/2009/05/13/reset-windows-update.aspx

    If our Fix it solution is not able to solve your problem please get free support from Microsoft for you Windows Update issues.

    https://support.microsoft.com/oas/default.aspx?gprid=6527

    Regards

    chris

  22. Salvatore Liggieri Says:

    Windows update not working:

    I got up to step 7 and got this message:

    Wuaucit.exe is not recognized as an internal or external command operable program or batch file.

  23. Hi, I am using vista 32bit and my windows update has not worked for a over a year! I have looked through all the tech forums to no avail. I cannot seem to fix this problem, can anyone help?!

    When my laptop loads up it tries to automatically look for windows updates but an error message appears with error code 80070490.

    Regards,
    Chris

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