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.

241 comments

  • you rock!
    step 4 resolved the situation

  • From the days of MS DOS l have been struggling with most of these operating systems. Just wanted to say thanks for the info step 2 worked for me. Thanks MSN

  • D. W. Cameron

    THANKS SO MUCH!! I used Options 1, 2, and 4, and it apparently is working fine now. This problem was driving me crazy! I had tried KB971058, Fixit 50202 (a.k.a. EasyFix), KB947821, and System Update Readiness Tool, plus other “suggestions” – all separately – with no luck. I spent time on three separate “chat” sessions with Micro$oft “technicians” to no avail. (One technician, who went by the name of “Nixon”, insisted that I needed to turn Firewall and my Anti-Virus server (BitDefender) off. That didn’t seem quite right to me … 8>( ) The only glitch I had with your method is that once Windows Update got started, the first thing it tried to do was install Windows 10! (… which really isn’t a problem with your method …) At some point, I will go to Win10 but I need to do a lot of backup and preparation work before I even think about starting that. I want to do it on my terms and schedule, not Micro$oft’s! Anyway, I thought I might have to face a (destructive) re-install of Win7 to fix it. BTW, it also fixed the “SVCHOST CPU Hogging” problem which I didn’t think was related. I had tried several separate fix-suggestions for that problem, all to no avail. So again, THANK YOU SO MUCH and I second what others have said: you should be working for Microsoft (maybe you already do?) I nominate you for the Turing Award or Field Prize or whatever honors software expertise! — D. W. Cameron

    • Unfortunately, Microsoft screws people every day, and they rely on people like Kriss Milne to solve Microsoft problems. Post-Bill Gates they through out whatever they want, without proper testing or feedback. In short, Microsoft is a piece of shit, and they are relying on the fact that there is no good alternative — They Don’t Care, Because They Don’t Have To.

  • Many thanks for the excellent tutorial. Step-2 fixed my problem for Win7 x64. Your hint to stop the Windows Update service was especially valuable. One small glitch: When I tried to do that in Task Manager it denied access, in spite of my account having admin status. There was no problem stopping the update service with Service Manager though. (Control Panel|Administrative Tools|Services) I really appreciate your help.

  • Great site, Option 2 with a good explanation was the answer to a month of wandering around lost. There must be loads of people out there unaware that their PC is not updating. MS should be sued!
    Thanks again – I have the same problem with a Vista Tablet any idea what the KB is for that?

  • Thanks!!! Stopping WUASERV in Task Manager made the fan noise plummet – Update was driving the machine crazy… All of a sudden I could install updates!

  • Thank You for Option 2! Microsoft should be paying YOU to relieve people of pain and frustration — but Microsoft wouldn’t because they don’t care — they realize everyone knows they suck anyway.

  • Finally my problem is solved! Option 2 also worked for me (Win 7 x64). Thanks a lot!

  • A savior!!! Thank you Kriss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Option two worked for me. Thanks for helping me out. It is much appreciated. Keep up the good work.

  • Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou Kriss. Option 2 worked for me. After many hours of troubleshooting I was at my wits end and getting discouraged.

  • Excellent Blog! Thanks for posting.

  • Thank you! Thank you! Finally a solution – i have just found around 50 updates to download, after wasting nearly a day and a half trying to find a solution and trying a few different things and waiting…. waiting… for it to find the elusive updates. You are a light filled gem for helping us our with this!!! xxoo

  • This has been so helpful, thank you! I’ve been struggling with this problem for months.

  • Thank you very much for this very helpful post. My husband’s old Windows 7 laptop was stuck “Searching for updates” and your website provided the solution (I wish I had found it sooner!). While I worked my way through steps 1-4, it is possible that step 2 alone would have resolved the problem had I been more patient and left the laptop searching for updates for quite a while longer. In the end, it took over an hour before I saw any results, so my recommendation to others is to be patient.

  • "Checking For Updates" Victim

    Gr8 Blog M8 I R8 8/8 Fixed My Laptop 🙂

  • Kriss,

    This blog you created is GREAT!! Simply GREAT! I researched A LOT of sites and yours is spot on. It took me to step #4 to get my updates working again, but you broke it down “Barney Style” and I was able to seamlessly accomplish the task. In fact, I got 50 installed today and I am currently working on one more. Thank you!! Thank you!!

    I can only hope that you get some kind of recognition for this blog. Maybe at work (if you work in IT)…maybe you can get CEU credits from COMPTIA(?)…I hope so.
    Thank you again and again and….

    BobD

  • Thank you, thank you. I am yet another frustrated Windows 7 user who had been plagued with the dreaded “stuck on” issue. I had probably attempted as many as 10 other suggested fixes over the past 3 months before I found yours. Step 2 fixed it. Whew!

  • Thanks. Was causing some issues for me. Step 2 fixed the problem

  • Hi Kriss,

    I have had a nightmare on this all day yesterday and then I finally saw this post. After following step 2, the update is finally working. Thank you so much

    PS I think Microsoft are making things very difficult for Window 7 users as they are trying to get everyone to downgrade to Windows 10.

  • Thanks for this post. After a day of trying to solve my update issues, followed your instructions and problem solved! V. relieved…

  • Thank you for the links, I thought I would never get win10 for free, and the CPU leak was very annoying.

  • TQ Mr Kriss Milne. I follow your comment and install march update andnow i got all updates. I spend 2 days finding the solution. once again thank you so much for your help

  • I must take a moment and thank you very much for this information.

    I have used the fixes you posted on here several times in past few weeks to update machines that kept getting stuck and it was driving me insane!

    The biggest key here is to make sure that Windows Update Service is off and stays off. I had a couple PC’s automatically restart the service before I could run the manual update.

    Thank you very much!!

  • I’ve just done a clean install and had the same problems trying to download (Windows6.1-KB3172605-x64) (it would send me to the confirmation screen but the download wouldn’t start). Firefox wouldn’t work, Internet explorer also wouldn’t work. installed Chrome and for some reason that worked. The problem now is I get this message from the Windows Update Standalone Installer: The update is not applicable to your computer.
    !?

    • Hi Joe

      Unfortunately I have found the Microsoft Download Centre to be a little inconsistent with it’s behaviour, trial and error (similar to what you have done) is all I can offer

      With regards to the message you received, you must ensure two things:

      • You have Service Pack 1 installed
      • You have downloaded the correct update for your architecture (64-bit or 32-bit)

      The easiest way to check is to open your system properties:
      Open Control Panel > Click System and Security > Click System

      Within the system properties you’ll see the Windows Edition and System type, which will inform you if you’re running Service Pack 1 and your architecture type (x86 for 32-bit and x64 for 64-bit)

      • I should have included this with the first message.
        Windows 7 Home Premium
        Service Pack 1
        64-bit Operating System

        [Not sure It matters, but I’m running this on Boot Camp. But this is not the first time I have applied your fix to this system. About 6 mounts ago I did a clean install, and had the “Windows 7 stuck on Checking For Updates” problem. At that time the fix worked without a hitch. (Should have thanked you then.) But since then I’ve had a bunch of issues that led me to reinstall again (and yes that’s both operating systems both times). ]

        Any help would be appreciated.
        Thanks

        • Hi Joe

          It is odd that you would be getting that message.

          I would suggest in this instance that you try installing the Windows Update Client Update from March 2016
          https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3138612

          Once done, run windows updates and update your machine.

          The July 2016 Rollup pack should be listed and an optional update in the Windows Update.

          • Hi Kriss

            Well, the March 2016 version worked. But I was forced to get it from another computer running Vista/Firefox. On this one not Firefox, Chrome or IE responded with a download. Any Idea whats up with that?

            Before I saw your post of the alternate link, I ran the updater for something like 5 hours with no results (I knew it was futile, but I had to try, right?). Of the 242 “Important” & 7 optional updates found in about 5 or 10 minutes after installing the alternate version, I could not see the July 2016 Rollup pack. But I could have missed it, I will check again some other time. (It took something like 5 hours to install those 242, only a couple didn’t make it, and of course there is still more of them to come)

            I thank you for your quick response, and your accurate Kung Fu.

          • Hi Kriss and Joe,

            I’d like to thank both of you for posting and answering about this problem.

            I did a clean Win7 Pro x64 SP1 install, got all the above WU issues, including the “The update is not applicable to your computer”, even though I went back to all prerequisites (July2016->April2015 etc).. After 2 days was almost ready to jump off the balcony.

            But then I tried updating Windows Update itself with the March 2016 version (I had upgraded to a June 2015 version that I thought was the newest), and ___FINALLY___ WU is downloading the 200+ updates..

            What is absolutely impossible to fathom is How On Earth Does Windows Update Not First Try To Update Itself To The Newest Version… What is Microsoft thinking?..

            Anyway, BIG THANKS to both of you, you just avoided a balcony-related incident.

        • Hi, I also got the same message about “update is not applicable to your computer” on a 32bit clean install of Win7 SP1. Got around it by applying KB3135445 which Microsoft released in February 2016 to address some of these update issues. Windows Update worked fine after that.
          Incidentally I could not stop the WUAUSERV service using Task Manager (permission denied) but used services.msc instead.

  • I can’t download any of the packs (update rollups) from the official Microsoft site. I click download and it sends me to the confirmation screen but no download ever starts. Driving me mad!

    Any ideas?

    • Hi LJ

      After a bit of testing I also couldn’t download from the download centre using Google Chrome, but it successfully downloaded using Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

      My advice would be try again using Internet Explorer. (I’ve updated the post with this little note)

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you Kris! I manually installed KB3172605. After reboot, my Windows 7 PRO 64-bit found 52 updates and is now installing. I had given up on finding a solution and disabled Windows update to keep it (SVCHOST) from hogging the system.

    I’ll be checking your web site first when there are Windows problems!

  • This post has been updated to ensure all of the links and information are current.

    – Step 2 updated with the supersedence details of the July 2016 Rollup Pack
    – Step 2 updated with the direct download links for the July 2016 Rollup Pack

  • Thanks so much for this information. The crucial step I was missing to solve my issue was to stop WUAUSERV before trying to install the rollup update.

    Note that the June 2016 rollup has been superceded by the July 2016 update, released on July 21, 2016.

    • They did indeed superseded the June 2016 Rollup Pack with a July 2016 Rollup Pack.

      Not only that, but they also removed all download links from the knowledge base articles and advised people to retrieve the update through windows updates.

      Oh the irony!

  • Re the June rollup – I click on the link and it says the page doesn’t exist. I have tried all the frixes other than that and nothing works.

  • Scott Musich

    Thanks for the article!
    This is what fixed my issue that was in the article:
    June 2016 (Includes a fix specifically addressing long scan times)
    https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/kb/3161647

  • Thanks for this post, it helped me a lot. I’d like to share my experience here in my company with Win 7 Pro. We have a WSUS deployed, and it was taking forever for a brand new installation to find out the updates. The steps we took to have it fixed (remember that Win 7 must be original and activated ):
    1) Stop Windows Update service;
    2) Install KB3020369 (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3020369);
    3) Stop Windows Update service again;
    4) Install KB3161608 (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3161608);
    5) Reboot the system;
    After the reboot, it took no more than 5 minutes to find out the updates (sometimes we had to force the scan of Windows Updates again).

    • Perfect. Only your reply works for me. I had to force scan and find 242 updates after 23 minutes.

      Thanks !

  • Thank You! After following your instructions in step 2 (stop the WUAUSERV service using the task manager), I was able to stop the madness of the never ending ….

  • Fixed at Option 4 – Many thanks.

  • I was putting up with slow or no updating for months and tried several fixes including MS fixer tool to no avail. Used step number 2.1 above following the tip to shut down windows updater in MS services in task manager before trying to download the update from the MS site. Installed update and restarted a search for updates. 10 minutes later it found 18 important updates which I just downloaded and are installing now! Wish I would have tried your suggestions first! Thanks Kriss.

  • Followed the tips in every blog to reset Windows Update but they all failed until I found this. Followed the steps in https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/kb/971058 and after a lot of cmd processing it worked. You are a saviour Kriss.

  • Thanks very much. I had somehow managed to stop Windows update working when trying to move from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and couldn’t find any help on the Microsoft website. Had been scratching around for 2 days, but this sorted me out at step 2. Most grateful!

  • Thanks, Kriss, Windows Update is now working normally. Good to have it back!

    My comments relate to the previous (pre-June 2016 updates to Fix It and Windows Update client) steps 3. Fix It and 4. Minor Reset.

    I run Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate on an IBM ThinkPad T42.

    I first came across the problem last month (early June 2016) when my AV which has a software updater function (Avast! anti-virus) unusually flagged up that Internet Explorer 11 had an update waiting. I went to Windows Update where there was a big green tick with the assurance that Windows was up-to-date. Both could not be true. Windows Update also said the last updates had been downloaded on March 6 and installed on March 14. So I had a couple of months of missing updates to install.

    I downloaded the WU client March 2016 version (Step 2), which did not install since it was already installed.

    I ran Fix It. The first run fixed some problems but left one error: “Service registration is missing or corrupted.” (Windows Update was running.) I stopped the Windows Update service through services.msc and ran Fix It again. This fixed the registration issue. After restarting the service, I ran Windows Update which remained for two hours still “Checking For Updates” , which if it was solely a registry problem I felt was more than long enough for it to be resolved..

    I performed Step 4 Minor Reset. This worked after running Windows Update “Checking For Updates” for eight and a half hours before listing 40 important updates and 4 optional updates. Before these could be installed, there was another hour wait while WU client updated itself and installed a presumably uncorrupted catalog that Windows Update called “other updates”. (Not to mention the refreshed WU update required a system restart before installing the updates.)

    Compared to a normal wait for “Checking For Updates” to complete and your statement about it running for “an excessively long period of time” as part of the WU problem, 8+ hours could seem an excessively long period to a reasonable person. I think you should reword or warn in Step 4 about the length of time a Minor Reset could take, otherwise some people could close down the update process before it completes out of impatience or confusion. Which would still leave them with the WU problem unresolved and they are likely to move on unnecessarily to Step 5 Full Reset as a consequence. For example say something In Step 4 like: “I recommend running Minor Reset overnight because of the time it may take to sync with Microsoft’s WU servers.”

    Once again, thanks for your methodical approach

  • This post has been updated to ensure all of the links and information are current.

    – Step 2 updated with the latest Windows Update Client (June 2016)
    – Step 2.1 added including a new Windows 7 SP1 rollup pack (June 2016)
    – Step 3 updated with the latest link for the Microsoft Windows Update Fix It program.

  • I think this post needs to be updated. The link to the first Fixit in Step 3 (Microsoft Fix It) has expired. Apparently Microsoft again addresses this issue in KB3161608, published late in June, 2016. But check some of the scuttlebutt on the web before installing this fix.

    I am having the same problem again this month and could not manually install the KB3161608. Still working on it.

    • Much obliged for pointing this out. As requested numerous updates have been made to the post. Please refer to my latest comment for more information.

      • Thanks for the link to the new Microsoft FixIt. I clicked on the graphic. The links to manually download the FixIt from the Microsoft website do not work the same as they did a month ago. After running the FixIt, I went to Windows Update and found that everything was reset. I clicked on the button that read something like “Check for Updates” and also went to Power Options in Control Panel and set the computer to never turn off. I went out for 4 hours and when I came back, 9 updates were downloaded.

        In the new Step 2, I followed links to the USA version for KB3161647:
        https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3161647
        and see it is now only available as part of that KB3161608 (discussed in Step 2.1) June 2016 update rollup package for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows Server 2008 R2.

        I successfully installed that option and have found no problems so far with it.
        Timed 21:33 GMT 14 June 2016.

  • I download the Windows Update Client for Windows 7 and it worked. I troubleshooted for 3 consecutive days with no result. Thank you very much.

  • Had the same problem and Step “minor reset” worked for me. Thank you very much, I was really frustrated with this issue!

  • Faheem Ahmed

    It worked. Thank you.
    I tried up to steps 3 and restarted my PC after each step. Eventually it worked. The links are good.
    Dated 07JUL2016.
    Configuration: Windows 7 Ultimate.

  • Thank you Chris. Step 2 was it for us. Seems that you have really use the latest update. We had success a few months ago with the update from that time.

    But as we applied the Update from that time now, we had no success, so we searched a lot of time in the wrong direction.

  • Thanks Kriss. Step 4 works great for me.
    A question: I have built dozens of workstations with Win 7 Pro 64 for my company and must continue to do so due to Win 10 compatibility issues with software we run. Only recently has this update problem occurred, but now it is with EVERY installation of Win 7 I do. I hate to sound paranoid, but is this in any way a deliberate Microsoft thing? They are pushing Win 10 awfully hard, even with my domain workstations now. Just wondering……

    • Not really, Windows Update has always been quite slow when installing lots of updates from scratch (There are some good answers online that explain the complexity of Windows update, and why it takes so long – it boils down to complex algorithms, lots of updates, backwards compatibility and the ability to uninstall updates).

  • Your comments are good, but there is one major problem. After downloading you cannot stop the update service to install the download, it will restart whatever you do, then hang checking for updates. The only way around this is to unplug your internet connection, restart windows then install the download. That is the only way to get the download installed. Once installed you can reconnect the internet.

  • I would just like to expand upon the comment made by J on June 18, 2016. I originally found this blog post in early May 2016 when I noticed that 50% CPU usage rate by SVCHOST.EXE in task manager. I ignored it for a few days. Eventually, I found this post and used the first of the three suggestions above, the Microsoft fixit.

    The problem returned last Wednesday, June 15, 2016. I ran the Fixit again, but after 5 minutes after clicking on “Check for Updates” in Windows, I saw no progress. It was stuck. I then tried the second and third suggestions above. Again, it was stuck checking for updates.

    I then found a video on Youtube discussing this problem , in which the poster noted that he heard reports that it would take many, many hours for Windows Update to complete checking for updates. I then went into Power Options in the Control Panel, and changed my Balanced Power Plan to never turn off the display and never to put the computer to sleep. Then, I went out shopping for 4 hours.

    When I returned, I found a bunch of updates ready to install. I don’t know why it is taking so long lately. It may have to do with the large number of updates at a time, or with Microsoft downloading Windows 10 during this latest upgrade offensive. But to those of you accustomed to speedy update checks, try waiting many, hours after running the Microsoft Fixit above.

  • Wait for a few hours (it took me 2 hours, other 8 hour) eventually windows update synchronize itself to Microsoft and get the updates

  • Systematic and clear approach. In my case fresh install of Windows 7 Pro with drivers and activated stuck in checking for updates.
    Installing update from kb 3138612 solved the problem.

    Many thanks!

  • Just to repeat a few previous comments,.Thank You Kriss !!
    Problem solved !!!
    This should be the first link you see when searching “Windows 7 update hangs”

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