Wndows 7 Checking for Updates

Windows 7 stuck on “Checking For Updates”

This can be a common problem and has varying reasons that can be the cause. After recently having the problem and investigating the issue I came across numerous blog posts, articles, forum threads each making different suggestions which ended up in a very lengthy trial and error process.

This post is intended to be as conclusive as possible.

The Problem – Checking for Updates


When opening Windows Update and clicking “Check for updates” the status stays on “Checking for updates” and when monitoring processes in Task Manager the SVCHOST.EXE process consumes a large amount of memory and utilises between 50-100% CPU.

The Windows Update Automatic Update Service WUAUSERV is the thread of the SVCHOST.exe that consumes the CPU and Memory, when the service is stopped the memory and CPU utilisation return to normal and Windows Update stops checking for updates.

When the windows update process is left for a long period of time (several hours) the status remains unchanged, windows updates is still checking for updates and CPU and memory utilisation are also unchanged. When investigating the windowsupdate.log no recent information is written to the log file.

The Solutions


As previously mentioned there are varying reasons that can be the cause of the issue and therefore there are multiple solutions. However, there is a logical order to each solution, with the first steps being the least invasive and most likely to resolve the problem.

Note: Checking for updates can take a long time depending on your internet connection speed and the number of updates that need to be installed. If you are checking for updates for the first time, you should allow for several hours. Several people have reported leaving their machine over night to check for updates.

1. The Basics


I call this the basics, because, well, they really are the basics.

  1. Ensure that you are running a genuine copy of Windows 7 and that it is Activated
  2. Ensure that you are running Windows 7 with Service Pack 1
    If you do not have windows 7 Service pack 1 installed, you can download it here
  3. Ensure you have an active, up-to-date anti-virus software installed
  4. Ensure that you have a stable internet connection and that you can access the Microsoft Windows Update service
    A good test is to browse to the following URL
    http://www.update.microsoft.com/windowsupdate/v6
  5. Restart your computer
    This allows for any pending installations or operations be to completed

You should perform a full system scan using your anti-virus program to rule out the possibility of malware causing the problem.

Continue to step 2 before checking for updates again.

2. Download the latest update for the windows update client


This should be the first step in the troubleshooting process, especially if your windows 7 operating system is a fresh or new installation and this is the first time you are checking for windows updates.

The Windows update catalog for windows 7 is now very extensive, the increased size of the catalog has introduced some problems for the windows update client which have been addressed in updates for the client. In normal behavior the Windows Update Client will usually download updates for itself before it begins to download other updates, however, with this problem this update does not always occur.

You should always download and install the latest update to the Windows Update Client for best results.

The latest available update (June 2016) is included in the following Rollup Pack:

I have included below the direct links to Microsoft’s download centre for the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the update.

Note: You will need to stop windows from checking for updates before installing the update. Otherwise the installation will get stuck on “checking for installed updates”

To stop windows from checking for updates, stop the WUAUSERV service using the task manager.

After successfully installing the update, run windows update again. If the status stays on “Checking for Updates” for an excessively long period of time and the CPU and memory utilisation for svchost.exe are still unusually high, continue to step 3.

3. Microsoft Fix It


Microsoft Fix It is a service Microsoft provided as a form of self-service. The tools are designed as simple wizards to resolve common problems with specific products or services.

You can use the following link to download the Microsoft Fix It tool for the windows updates service.

Microsoft_Fix_It

If you’d prefer to download the Microsoft Fix It tool from Microsoft’s website you can visit the following link:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/kb/971058

Once downloaded, run the tool as administrator and follow the wizard, the tool will attempt to detect and fix any issues with the Windows Update service.

After successfully running the Fix It tool, run windows updates again. If the status stays on “Checking for Updates” for an excessively long period of time and the CPU and memory utilisation for svchost.exe are still unusually high, continue to step 4.

4. Minor Reset


This is a minor reset of the Windows Update service, it removes any files that may be corrupted and causing issues with the update process. You should consider this before resorting to a full manual reset of the windows update service.

To perform a minor reset:

  1. First you need to stop the “Windows Update” service and the “Cryptographic Services” service.
    To do this you can either:

    1. Open the Services.msc console and stop the two services specified.
    2. Open an elevated command prompt and run the following commands
      1. net stop wuauserv
      2. net stop cryptsvc
  2. Delete or rename the %windir%\SoftwareDistribution directory
  3. Delete or rename the %windir%\System32\catroot2 directory
  4. Start the “Windows Update” service and the “Cryptographic Services” service
    To do this you can either:

    1. Open the Services.msc console and start the two services specified.
    2. Open an elevated command prompt and run the following commands
      1. net start wuauserv
      2. net start cryptsvc
  5. Install the latest Windows Update Client using step 2 in this post
  6. Restart the computer

Run windows updates again. If the status stays on “Checking for Updates” for an excessively long period of time (after a minor reset several people have reported the update check taking in excess of 8 hours) and the CPU and memory utilisation for svchost.exe are still unusually high, continue to step 5.

5. Full Windows Update Reset


This is an in-depth process and completely resets the Windows Updates components and it’s dependencies.

Microsoft has this process very well documented and you should follow the steps clearly outlined in the following knowledge base article:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/kb/971058

6. Repair Windows System Files


It’s possible that the Windows Update service cannot connect to Microsoft’s update services due to corrupted system files.

To repair Windows system files, you can either:

  1. Use the System File Checker tool to repair corrupted Windows files, and then run Windows Update again.
  2. If the problem continues, use the DISM or System Update Readiness (checksur) tool to repair Windows servicing corruptions.

If after you have exhausted the list of solutions in this post, my final recommendation is that you consider re-installing Windows, after successfully re-installing windows, you should perform steps 1 and 2 in this post before checking for updates.

236 comments

  • One of your solutions fixed the problem immediately for me. Many, many Thanks.

  • For Months I tried updating Windows and everything I tried just never Worked . But your Solution Worked immdtly ! Thank you ! Thank you !! Thank you !

  • Worked a charm thanks very much, been trying for ages to figure this out.

  • Thanks a million, been trying for ages to sort this out, step 2 did it for me.
    Your step by step list is great, having all the options in one place.

  • Thank you for the great help resource provided. Tried so many things, but finally these solutions worked.

  • While trying to resolve this, on computers I was repairing, as well as newly installed Windows 7 computers, I found that the following updates fixed this issue, so far, 100% of the time.
    KBs:
    3172605
    3138612
    3102810
    3020369

    Prior to installing each update, you’ll need to stop the Windows update service, otherwise, it searches for updates, which then sits there, just like Windows updates.
    Once installed and restarted, should now notice the SVCHOST.exe doesn’t consume 1 core’s worth of CPU resources, rather “trustedinstaller.exe” does.

    • I tried to install these updates but 3172605 and 3020369 both said “The update is not applicable to your computer.” Any idea why I would get this message? The other 2 that you named installed without any problem. Windows update still hangs on searching for updates and cpu usage is at 100%

  • Your first fix before trying the MS Fixit tool worked. Finally! Thank you. I’ve tried everything to get win7 to work on new hardware

  • Thanks helpful

  • Step 4 + KB3135445 (as people in the comments mentioned) helped!

  • Hello,

    Solution 4 worked for me, thank you very much!

    Regards

  • I tried step2 with KB3172605 and I got an error stating that the update was not compatible with my win7 64 bit, I then tried step 2 with KB3135445, this installed and required a reboot. Once the Laptop rebooted hey presto I ran windows update “Check for Updates” and within 30 mins it told me there were 209 updates to apply. The laptop is currently installing the updates and is at 115 of 205.

    Thanks to all for the hints/pointers

  • Kriss

    I’ve used your tips above on my own windows 7 rebuild with great success (thanks so much for that).

    I’m now trying to sort out neighbours laptop Win7 64 bit, which was suffering from the checking for updates problem. Step 2 appeared to sort it, many updates came thru and were installed correctly, repeated the check for updates, more came thru, installed correctly. Finally, having repeated check for third time, KB3177467 came thru, got the “preparing to install” text displayed, then system just stayed in that state for 40+minutes. I then repeated the check for updates, same KB3177467 reported, then “”preparing to install”, situation repeated.

    Any clues please ??

    Regards (and thanks again for your great tips)

  • Big thanks to downstairs for KB3135445,
    minor reset + KB3135445 = problem solved

  • Step two also worked for me, with an additional step.

    When running the standalone update executable it seems to hang on “Searching for updates” too. If you stop the Windows Update service and then run the executable it appears to skip the “Serching for updates” step, and proceeds with the install.

    • Bingo! Thank You so much I don’t recall seeing this valuable suggestion anywhere else, might have been done two days ago had I known this.

  • Thank you very much! This solved the problem and I learned a few new tricks.

  • 472364732647326578252

    Number 4 worked. Thank you. Dowlnloading updates now.

  • #3 Worked for me. I tried a lot of sites, with a lot of solutions. This worked. Great and thanks a lot!!!

  • #2 worked. Thanks! The hint to turn off the WUAUSERV was the key that other sites missed, but you nailed it

  • Thanks! step #2 did work for me.

  • Did a reninstall and couldn’t get updates to work. Tried #2 and it worked for me. I have been trying for months to get it working so a Big Thanks for the great help!

  • I just recently reinstalled Windows 7 on my computer and now I’m having this exact problem and I feel like I’ve been all over the internet trying to solve it and absolutely nothing has worked. I’m beginning to have a meltdown over here.

    Step 2 and Step 3 did not work for me (even when downloading the correct file in step 2, it says that it isn’t applicable for my version of windows, and when trying to resolve step 3 it goes all the way through and tells me it resolves some issues but at the top it still says “Not Fixed” and “Windows update error 0x8024402C(2016-11-09-T-02_14_31A) , I’m following step 4 all up until I’m supposed to remove or rename those two folders, neither of which works because apparently files in them are occupied by all manner of processes, at least one of I can’t even close (That process is called “Group Policy Client”).

    I’m going completely crazy here with no resolutions doing anything. I just want to windows update so my computer can work normally. Can someone please help?

  • I have to say steps two and three were the most helpful thanks for the info

  • Pingback: Who knew building a new Windows 7 VM was so hard? | Ausfestivus's Blog

  • Thank you Kriss! Your recommended solution in step-by-step format is well laid-out and easy to follow. In my case I needed to run both steps 2 and 3 for my desktop and notebook and this worked well on both units. I tried several other suggested solutions and none were effective.

    Thanks again! JC

  • Number 2 worked for me, thanks very much for your help. My PC is back to normal, phew! The PC installed a lot of updates, but one failed, and that was the October “rolled up” update. I tried a second time, but it still failed. Any ideas?

  • dude…
    thank you so much for this. I’ve had this issue for awhile and tried other “solutions” but this got me sorted out. Downloading the updates as i type.
    You the man.

  • After months of no updates and many attempted online “fixes”, your suggestions finally got things working. Thank-you!

  • You are a genius!!! I have been trying for 3 weeks to fix Window update without success. Finally step 4 worked. Thanks again.

  • Thanks, Kriss. I’ve been working on this on and off since May 2016. #2 seems to be the magic number! I can’t believe my laptop’s update is actually working again and found it’s 33 updates in just a few minutes. Kudos, You the Man!

  • Thanks a lot. Number 2 worked for me. You are a life saver.

    Shame on MS.

  • Kriss,
    I don’t know how to thank you enough. Perhaps if there is anything Kind that I can tell you, its this ~ ” Had you been in Microsoft, there would be a lot of people who wouldn’t have to suffer like me ”
    Why is it that Windows 7 Owners have to suffer this ordeal every month ? Is it some kind of vengeance of Microsoft that we didn’t feel the need to upgrade to Windows 10 ? Gone are the days when Updates used to be a routine matter for us. And now its a nightmare ! Thank you for being around and helping us. For me #2 worked. Thanks once again Kriss

  • Thank you so much, I almost give up then I stumbled upon your blog it was a game changer. Step 4 worked for me except when I went back to step2 to update I was getting an error that the update was not compatible with my win7P64 bit then I just tried file KB3135445 then I saw a LIGHT.
    Once again Thank you and be blessed.

  • Thank you so, so much. How/where can I send you a gift? seriously.

  • Windows Update kept searching for updates indefinitely and occasionally the error message 80080005 would appear. After trying several other suggestions from various websites (registry tweak, command prompt entries, MSCONFIG edits, trying to manually install Windows catalog updates, etc..), I followed Step 2 and now Windows Update is finally working. It’s difficult to say whether some of the previous steps in combination with this one, or just Step 2 of this guide solved the problem. Regardless, I’d recommend that people start with the solutions presented on this site first.

  • Thank you. step 2 worked fine for me, in both of my computers. Details: to stop wuauserv, the normal [services] section of Task Manager didn’t let me, I had to access the other [services] via the button at lower right corner.

    A search for KB3172605 returned the news that MS has recently released a newer version, maybe you could evaluate it?
    https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3172605

    Thank you again, very clear, concise and extremely useful.

  • David Squires

    Thanks for this Kriss. Found your advice after a bit of a search and after a few failed attempts to fix the problem. After section 2 above Windows Update now fit and working again. More power to your elbow!

  • Thanks!! Tried a lot of different alternatives on other sites before I stumbled upon your blog. Step 2 worked for me. 🙂

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