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Windows 7 SP1 Windows Update stuck checking for updates?

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I installed Windows 7 fresh and installed SP1. Now, when I try to check manually for Windows Updates it just hangs on the Checking for updates screen.

Windows Update dialog on hang

I tried running the tools in How do I reset Windows Update components?, but this did not fix the issue either:

No matter what I do it just hangs on the "Checking for updates..." screen and goes no further.

asked Nov 22, 2016 by mikealeonetti  

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Best answer

Microsoft released a Windows Update Client Update which is part of the July 2016 Update Rollup to fix the long hang at Windows Update scan.

This update contains some improvements to Windows Update Client in Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1). This includes the following:

  • An optimization that addresses long scan time for updates that's reported on some computers.
  1. Download:

  2. Stop Windows Update service. This speeds up the setup of MSU updates and the useless steps from Moab are not required (reboot causes that the Wu service is stopped until it gets started via trigger when Internet is avaible) . This can be done from the command line, or from the service manager window.

  3. Try the downloaded update and see if it speeds up the installation of Updates.

To be able to install the update you first need to install the April 2015 servicing stack update for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 update (again, stop WU service before trying to install the MSU).

Download (April 2015 servicing stack update):

32 Bit

64 Bit

Workaround 1

If this is still not helping to search for new updates, use WSUSOffline to get all the updates.

answered Nov 22, 2016 by magicandre1981  
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I found that Microsoft had a fantastic tool for fixing their own updates. Running the "Windows Update Automated Troubleshooter" package cleared out all of my issues with updates.

See Windows Update: FAQ. Scroll to "What can I do if I’m having problems installing updates?"

Or use the download link.

answered Nov 22, 2016 by mikealeonetti  
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Simple solution: Open Windows Update, go to change settings, make sure it's set to install updates automatically, change the Install new updates time to the next hour (as opposed to the 3:00).

Set the computer to never sleep when plugged in. It may take up to two hours for the updates to start, so be patient.

answered Nov 22, 2016 by EMcNamara  
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This is for PC/laptops with relative little memory (3 GB or less)

After trying without success

  1. Antivirus scans (multiple)
  2. Registry fixes
  3. Windows Update troubleshooter
  4. Installing the latest version of windows client

My fix was simple.

Check your power options

If your PC/laptop is using a lot of memory, you won't be able to use it while checking for updates and even if you leave it whenever you "come back" to check it's still checking for updates, even after leaving it for several hours.

Explanation:

The problem is your power settings put the PC/laptop to sleep thus stopping the update check and starting all over when you wake it up (thinking it was checking all the time you left it)

Solution:

Change the power setting to put the computer to sleep to never (you can change it back when updates are successful)

Control panel -> Hardware and Sound -> Power Options -> edit plan settings

Put the computer to sleep -> Select never -> save changes

Then check for updates again (leave it for several hours if you only have 2 GB memory).

answered Nov 22, 2016 by davejal  
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I had the same experience - Windows would check for updates forever. One processor core would max out and one of the svchost tasks in the taskbar devoured a gigabyte of memory.

I decided to install updates manually, and the briefest of googling found the Windows Update Downloader. I used this to manually download 106 security updates.

I then installed each of these updates manually. One at a time. Using herculean amounts of patience.

Some of the updates would do similar to Windows Update itself - when I ran the update, I got a window which had a title of "Windows Update Standalone Installer", with a "doing stuff" type progress bar (rather than one which progresses just once from left to right) below the phrase "Searching for updates on this computer", with a cancel button in the bottom right.

Clicking cancel did nothing. In order to kill it I had to close three tasks in Task Manager or restart. But I observed that after a reboot, the update which got stuck would then install successfully.

So I grinded my way through the updates, installing two or three at a time then rebooting when I saw the window I described above for more than 20 seconds with no progress. Some of them popped up a message like "this update is not required for your computer", so I just deleted those without installing.

When I finished installing all 100 or so updates, I tried running Windows Update again. One core went to 100%, the svchost task went to a gigabyte of memory.

I left it for a bit, then went to shut the computer down in disgust. And the little yellow Windows Update shield appeared on the shutdown button!

I let it install the 7 or so updates, then powered it back up. I left it a while, then once again the little yellow windows update shield appeared on the shutdown button! This time there were 50 updates.

Third time round there were 79 updates.

And after that, I ran the Windows Update thingy, and it worked!

I'm not arrogant enough to say that this will fix your problem. All I'm saying is that this fixed your problem for me. Best of luck!

answered Nov 22, 2016 by viridian  
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This issue has come and gone over the years with different fixes along the way, so here is my updated guide to this issue as of this date January 5th, 2016.

Check the EDIT section below, there is a much faster way to fully update Windows 7 SP1 after a clean install now.

This is what I do when I reinstall Windows 7 with SP1 or have issues with Windows update stuck on checking for updates.

If Service Pack 1 is not installed, install it before following this guide.

Choose

windows6.1-KB976932-X64.exe

for 64bit W7 or

windows6.1-KB976932-X86.exe

for 32bit W7

Download KB-3138612 and save it where you can find it later

Download SUR Tool save it to same place

Restart the PC and disconnect from internet before Windows loads, this is important because at every boot windows will check for updates in the background and this will start the checking for updates hang all over again and will prevent the install of the downloaded packages until it finishes checking, so disconnecting from the internet before Windows loads prevents this.

Once booted install KB-3138612, if reboot is required do so and stay disconnected from internet.

Now install the SUR Tool package, this is a big package and will install many updates along with cleaning up and repairing the Windows update store. It will also cut down on how many more Windows updates will need to be installed later.

After install of SUR package reboot, connect to internet and do a manual Windows Update, it should work much faster now. Even after these fixes I have seen some W7 PC's take up to an hour to finish checking for updates if launched from Control Panel manually.

If you have other Windows updates issues and the 2 updates above are installed, download this Microsoft Windows Update fixit tool (right click "save link as") run it and select aggressive mode to completely reset Windows updates. Reboot and try Windows Updates from the Control Panel again.

Update: Microsoft has released a huge update rollup for Windows 7 SP1, this is similar to a service pack but they are not calling it that. This will make it Much faster to update Windows 7 after a clean install, no more Windows update issues and many reboots. This update rollup will bring the system current to patch Tuesday of April 2016.

This is not being released through Windows Update, you have to use Internet Explorer to get it, open IE and go to this address

http://catalog.update.microsoft.com/v7/site/home.aspx

Type in the search box 3125574 and hit enter key.

enter image description here

Now you will see all versions of this rollup, select the one you need and download it somewhere you can find it later. Also use the Windows Update Catalog page to download and install this update first, 3020369, it is a pre-requisite for the rollup, then install 3125574, also be sure to be disconnected from the internet when applying these updates.

enter image description here

answered Nov 22, 2016 by Moab  
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In my case the download progress was stuck at 0%. I solved the problem in the following way (as suggested here):

  • Stop the Windows Update and Application Experience services (if they don't stop, disable them and then reboot)

  • Delete everything inside C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution

  • Restart Application Experience and Windows Update services

  • Reopen Windows Update and let it check for updates

answered Nov 22, 2016 by dr01  
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This is for those of you (like me) who have tried every solution you could find with no joy. The following process worked for me on a client's extremely stubborn HP DV6 reloaded via factory image w/SP1 that didn't respond well to the other solutions I tried (although they are part of the solution). This is the exact order I used to achieve success.

  1. Perform a Clean Boot

    Run msconfig.exe and choose "Selective startup", making sure that "Load system services" is checked and "Load startup items" is not checked.

    Go to the "Services" tab, click to select the "Hide all Microsoft services" check box (at the bottom of the window), and then click "Disable all".  Click "OK", and then click "Restart".

  2. Run "Windows Update" – click "Change settings" and set it to "Never check for updates".

Reboot

Manually apply the following updates in order.

KB3020369
KB3172605

In my case I had attempted these previously, but it appears that the order along with the clean boot and Windows Update setting were critical.

  1. After the above updates are installed, run msconfig.exe again and this time choose "Normal startup".

Reboot

  1. Run Windows Update and you should be presented with the expected slew of updates (in my case, 198) requiring installation. Proceed to install them.

  2. If you like you can change Windows Update settings back to automatic when you've finished applying updates.

answered Nov 22, 2016 by Elder Geek  
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Recently I restored an -I think- 2010 notebook recovering it to its initial system image, a 64bit version of Windows 7 (without SP1). I uninstalled some craps coming with the notebook and installed some basic purpose software like 7zip, VLC, an antivirus, etc. (all free software from secure sites or paid versions not cracked ones just to be clear). I made the update to SP1 (appeared after some reboot among Windows Update list after the very first ones I had installed) and returned the PC to the owner. After a week or so, the person who asked me for help told me he noticed that every time he checked for windows updates the process went on forever even waiting for long time for the task to complete. At first I thought of malware despite the person insisted it was not possible and that it happened since the beginning, anyway I decided to restore the PC again to its original system image just to be sure. I made the same things I did the first time but, instead of returning the PC immediately, I decided to keep it for a while using it just to surf the web a little, watch some videos and listen to music in spare time... Meantime I launched Windows Update to search for updates and, indeed, I noticed that the process went on for very long time never finding anything nor stopping and coming to an end, just as the owner had told me.

I tried solving the problem following almost every reply to this question, and the duplicate one here on SuperUser without solving.

Then I tried following cluberti comments on this and even haley_joel_osteen ones on Reddit still not solving the problem.

I tried several of the fixes listed on this Microsoft support thread and still nothing worked.

Last but not least, I also tried following answers to similar problem on a couple of Microsoft community answers (1 , 2) and even one on tom's hardware BUT, after all this, NOTHING: I still didn't manage to solve the problem!

I don't know if the fact the OS language wasn't American/English has to do with this the fact all listed tries didn't solve the problem... Anyway, since I saw Windows Updates worked at the beginning, I decided to restore the PC to its original system image again to try to install the updates one by one trying to understand WHEN (and hopefully even why) the problem manifested itself...

COMING TO SOLUTION:

TMLSS: In the end I noticed Windows Update stopped working just after SP1 update (KB976932) was installed and I solved every issue by following these steps:

  1. Go to Control Panel > Programs > Programs and Functionalities > Installed Updates, search for and uninstall SP1 update KB976932. (I remember I uninstalled KB958488 update too, but I don't think that's really necessary)

  2. Download that same update "manually" from Microsoft Update Catalog, going to http://catalog.update.microsoft.com/v7/site/search.aspx?q=KB976932 (MUST MANDATORILY USE IE FOR THIS) and choosing the one which correctly suits the operating system (32 or 64 bit).

  3. "Manually" install the downloaded update to Windows 7 SP1 (I noticed that the size of the "manually" downloaded update was about 6 to 12 times as big as the one installed automatically by Windows Update before).

This should just be enough but, to be just sure, I remember I then installed also KB3172605, KB3020369 and KB3125574 updates.

And that's it, this finally solved the problem in my case!

answered Nov 22, 2016 by danicotra  
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