Windows Updates: Your Guide to Fixing

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By Andy Migdal

The one thing that Microsoft needs to improve is rolling out smooth consistent updates, despite the fact the monthly updates released by Microsoft are amongst the most important maintenance tasks for any administrator to complete. These seem to break more often than anything else. There was some promise with the Microsoft Windows Update troubleshooter with Windows 10 / Server 2016 but alas these still fail regularly.

The first thing to check is the required services are running and set to automatic start.

  • Background Intelligent Transfer Service

  • Cryptographic Services

  • Delivery Optimization

  • Windows Update

It is still worth attempting a fix with the Windows Update Troubleshooter and performing a couple of reboots in-between. This can be access by typing Troubleshoot into the Start menu and clicking on Windows Update.

windows microsoft troubleshoot updates

The below steps are relevant for Windows 10/8/7 and Server 2019/16/12/2008.

Software Distribution Folder

I believe the best option however is to just delete the Software Distribution Folder from c:\windows.

windows microsoft troubleshoot updates

Windows won’t let you simply come along and delete the folder. You need to stop a few services first and, in some cases, disable them to stop starting up again automatically.

  • Background Intelligent Transfer Service

  • Cryptographic Services

  • Delivery Optimization

  • Windows Update

Once these services have stopped simply delete the folder. Starting the services again will automatically recreate the folder and required sub-folders. It’s always worth a reboot if you aren’t working on a server at this stage.

This process can be done from an Elevated Command prompt but personally I find it easier to do it manually.

net stop wuauserv

net stop bits

net stop DoSvc

net stop CryptSvc

delete c:\windows\SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution

net start wuauserv

net start bits

net start DoSvc

net start CryptSvc

If you are still having issues downloading updates, let’s check that nothing has been set locally to point the device at a source for the updates. This can be done by running gpedit.msc and looking at.

Computer Configuration\Administive Templates\Windows Components\Windows Update check that the setting “Specify Intranet Microsoft update service location” hasn’t been set. If it has, confirm the source is correct including port number.

If you’re on a corporate network, check no group policy has been set also for Windows Update.

windows microsoft troubleshoot updates

If you are using a WSUS server on your corporate network, it’s essential to check this is running correctly and downloading the required updates.

Microsoft do provide a link for troubleshooting various error codes. Although, they rarely provide something useful, other than to say run the Windows Troubleshooter. View here.

I have found in some circumstances it is also worth manually installing the current Windows CU (Cumulative Update). These can be downloaded directly from the Microsoft Catalogue and will usually be around 1GB in size. Make sure you download the correct CU for your Windows Version Number i.e. Windows 10 Build 1809.

windows microsoft troubleshoot updates

Once through all that, updates should install correctly. A reboot of windows between steps often works wonders and sometimes running the steps multiple times between reboots helps. This is still very much a black art that Microsoft makes us go though but it does work eventually.

windows microsoft troubleshoot updates

Even when Windows claims to be up to date, its always worth clicking on Update History and checking updates have installed in the last month without failure.

windows microsoft troubleshoot updates
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