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.

239 comments

  • Thank you! Stpe4 ‘Minor Reset’ worked.
    Based on experience: It took a reboot and wait for some time after performing the step4.

    • Kriss,
      I add my thanks to the list. When I downloaded the x64 bit Convenience Rollup, it worked correctly on the Win7 Professional computer I downloaded it to. But, when I carried that same download over to another Windows machine running Win7 Home Premium, it reported an error stating that the set of files was not compatible with my computer. After chatting with a Microsoft tech, their solution did not work but they did confirm that there are different versions of the Rollup for each edition of Windows (although the MS site doesn’t bother to mention it). As a test, I downloaded the Rollup again directly from the ailing Home Premium machine and the Rollup installed without the incompatibility error which seems to prove that there are truly different packages of the Rollup for different editions of Windows. Can you comment on how this fits within the framework of your sequence of steps above, and if it introduces any special steps that you can think of?

  • Is there a Windows Service Pack 2 for Windows 7 and if so is there a way to download it as a standalone to install? One of my friends Windows Update client is messed up and I have tried all sorts of KB’s from Microsoft to fix it with no luck. I am only able to install that particular KB as a standalone install and get no further from there – the WU client still does not respond even after a restart of the computer.

  • Thanks. This is a very straight forward and informative page.

  • Thank you very much, only needed to get to step 2 to fix this on my system. The update service was pegging my CPU at 25% non-stop and the manual “check for updates” had been broken for quite a while until I came across this blog post.

  • Thanks for your detailed and effective solution. Like others, I spent five fruitless hours trying to fix the update service. With your excellent instructions, my problem was solved in 15 minutes. Thanks again for posting this solution and helping all of us out.

  • Thank you very much. I fully agree with some of you here that so far this is the best I could find to solve the Windows update issues.

  • Thank you!!! Yours is by far the clearest and most useful info on this annoying issue.

  • Thanks. I can’t understand why Microsoft doesn’t have this on their site. Also, other sites came close, but closing down Update Services in services.msc FIRST was what I needed. All good to go now!

    • cheers a million buddy, step 2 worked after everything else i tried failed, had to restart pc found updates in less than 5 minutes. i have not been able to get updates for two months, the windows update troubleshooter did not help at all again thank you buddy top man.

      • just a question, would the process that worked (step 2) have to be repeated every month to download updates? or is it a case of when updates are stuck on checking.

  • Thank you for the detailed but simple step by step instructions. I was having so many problems and even going through the windows tech / microsoft blogs to try and help could not find a resolution until finding your blog and instructions. I went through the simple reset and install windows update and agree that the key factor that made yours work is turning off the windows update application before the update, but also directing us to the correct windows update since others have done so as well but has not been the same windows update file.
    Either way, thanks so much for posting something that really works!

  • Spent a day on this with other websites. Your Step 2 worked for me in 20 minutes.

  • Thank you very much, it helped me a lot.

  • I am so grateful.
    Step 2 worked for me and my updates are now downloading.
    Once I installed KB 3172605, I ran ‘check for updates’ and it took less than 15 minutes to receive updates.
    I appreciate your systematic approach…step 1, then step 2 etc.
    Thanx so much.

  • Yup, step 2 and 3 fixed it for me. Thanks!

  • Thanks, like others I tried numerous sites before this one worked.

  • Step #2 worked for me. Thank you!

  • Works perfect.
    Thank you for your help!

    Martin

  • Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
    I have been battling this issue for several weeks primarily since the high CPU usage makes the fan scream which annoys the hell out of my wife.
    Number 2 fixed my system, although i had tried 4-6 earlier today.
    What is strange is i noticed that the day the updates stopped working was the same day that someone loaded Office XP onto the machine, which is strange since i have office 2007 on this laptop.

  • Amigo te lo agradezco mucho. Suceeded at end of step two. 117 updates were correctly installed afterward. I still have 3 optionals which I will examine the pertinence. Thanks a loooot again.

    • ah.. my system is Windows 7 64 bits Home Premium with SP1 installed. The machine was off during holidays and since early august this winupdate hang WAS there.

  • Number 2 worked for me as well. I cannot believe I spent 6 hrs researching microsofts web site and did not come across this fix.Thanks

  • Thanks much!! Step two worked for me. And it found the updates to download in less than 5 minutes. I thought that I had tried that step before. Not sure what was the fix this time. I did install Windows 7 again with a different ISO. I also installed Netframe 4.6 prior to trying step two. Either way I am glad that Update is working. Been working on this install for about 3 days. If your steps didn’t fix the problem, my next option would have been to install Windows 10, and I really did want to do that on this computer.

  • So many thanks for this, I’d spent weeks trying to get Windows Update working until I stumbled on your blog.

  • +1 for the KB313544. I did it with the KB3172605 on several machines some weeks ago (64 bits) but this time I need to update a 32 bits version and the 317 didnt work.

  • The updates listed in the article you mention are superseded by the July 2016 rollup pack which contains additional updates and fixes.
    I don’t make reference to outdated content.

  • KB3172605 didn’t work for me either, but KB3135445 did. Thanks for the help, everyone!

  • Superb Kriss. Thanks so much. Wish I had seen your blog weeks ago before I tried a million other things. Step 2 worked for me–windows downloaded and installed 77 important updates. Finally feel good about my computer again.

  • #2 worked perfectly

    many thanks

  • After trying a number of things over the past 10 days including WSUS offline, downloading individual patches, running FIXIT, etc., tomorrow was going to be the day that I was going to give in and reinstall Windows.

    THANK YOU! #2 solved the issue. I did need to change the settings to Windows Update automatic settings to “Never check for updates” … that along with your fix did the trick.

    I (along with my friend who I’m prepping the laptop for) are quite happy.

  • Windows6.1-KB3135445-x64 worked for me

  • step 2 says, this update is not applicable to your computer.

    • Check the prerequisites for that update, make sure you got the April 2015 update and have Service Pack 1 installed. They’re both listed on that update page.

  • Pingback: Windows 7 : update recherche les màj à l’infini

  • Thanks Kriss, with your help I am now sorted and have learned in the process.

    Keep up the good work..:-)

    • Nothing has worked for me. It just never updates…… checking for updates forever.

      • Jason D

        hi jason

        mate did you disable windows updates before installing kB, i had the same problem the first time, i never stopped windows update so it would just hang on checking for updates forever, i turned updates off to never check for updates , and disabled it in services. tried again and it worked fine.
        hope it works for you this time, installed kb 3172605

        good luck

  • You are the man Kriss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Step 2 worked!

    I really think Microsoft introduced the problem on purpose. They want to push Win 10!

  • Excellent job in creating a very thorough instructions. Full Windows update reset worked for me. Thank you very much.

  • Thank you very much.

    Though the ways to fix also can be found from other support website, but you provide sequence method to make the solutions become clear and easy.

  • Yep. Step 2 worked – helped by leaving the computer on over night searching for updates afterwards. Thanks a lot!

  • My 2007 Dell Inspiron was repaired at a shop for the update and cpu usage issues in July but the problems returned last week. Step 1 of this article – roll up update for July, 64 bit Windows 7, did it all – i.e. started successful updates and dropped the CPU usage – at least for now. Thank you for the outstanding clarity and completeness of your directions – for a layman’s understanding.

  • Thank you !!
    Step 2 did the trick.

    spent all day trying to get the windows update to work.

    Today i got a brand new, well not brand new, a microsoft authorized refurbished computer and the first thing i did after turning it on was try to get windows to update. it just would not do anything but hang forever.
    After googling and trying to find a fix – which none of them worked, I then came across your blog.

    Low and behold you had the answer and after installing Step 2, it found 92 updates in less than 5 minutes and I am now able to update windows.

    Thank you so much !!

  • Gregory Ruffy

    As with many others posting here Step 2 did the trick!
    13 updates found in 5 minutes, and CPU usage is back to normal.
    I can’t thank you enough for this.

  • Thank you THANK YOU THANK YOU.

    I’m a Linux user, have been since 1998. I have a Win 7 Pro laptop just for photoshop, since Canon uses a proprietary format for their raw images.

    MS kept trying to force Win 10 on me in sneaky ways even after I tried all the instructions to get it to stop, and so I just shot the camera to jpeg for awhile and stopped booting the Windows laptop.

    Yesterday, now that the Win 10 coerced upgrades are over, booted it and tried to update – and it wouldn’t.

    Thank you for this page, it finally got me my Win 7 updates.

    I will keep using this laptop until Win 7 is no longer supported but I will likely never install Windows on anything else again. I don’t understand why people think Linux is more difficult, that is the most difficult time I have ever had just trying to do something as basic as updating the operating system to current patch level.

    • Your not alone. My biggest complaint with linux over windows actually has nothing to do with the functionality of linux at all. My wife and kids use Windows in some form or another throughout their daily lives so when I force them to use linux at home for their schoolwork, etc. I get so much static.

      The jokes on them though. They really seem oblivious to the fact that slowly I am teaching them how to use (Linux Mint for now) the operating system for all purposes. To the point where my wife was in windows the other day (without really being aware) and started complaining that she couldn’t find LibreOffice. It’s a process but eventually we will move everything away from windows completely.

      Windows 10 is certainly another timely reminder of why I dislike microsofts business model so much.

  • Thank you for taking the time to create this page. I came across many others help sites first, which also suggested installing the latest version of the Windows Update Client, but they all failed to mention that the WUAUSERV service needs to be stopped first. Thank you for including that small, but very important detail–it made all the difference.

  • Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I spent over five hours today researching this problem before I saw your your blog. Of all the solutions I found none worked until I tried your Step 2. It was the answer and fixed the problem. Yeah! So thank you very much for your great support.

  • Thanks very much for making this info available. Step 2 did the trick for me.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Thanks so much. I first tried step 4, didn’t work. Step 2 worked.

  • Excellent!
    And the winner is step 2!
    Works 4me2!

  • I was experiencing this problem on a “clean” Win7 32-bit system and came across this article.

    I attempted to implement Step #2 but, like many others, I received the “The update is not applicable to your computer” error message.

    I followed Mike H’s advice and tried installing KB3135445 (instead of KB3172605 as recommended in the article). It installed fine and, most importantly, fixed the Windows Update issue.

    Perhaps the original article should be updated to include this information. In any case, cheers to Kriss Milne!

    • …and cheers to Mike H!

    • KB3135445 worked when all other attempts above failed. Thank you!

    • Samsies! Pure struggle after a recovery partition install. KB3135445 worked instantly after stoping wuauserv.

      Cmd:
      Net stop wuauserv
      Net stop bits

    • KB3135445 worked for me as well after completing step 2. Three weeks into this stupid mess and now I finally have an operating system solely devoted to my daughters Sims games lol.

      I’ve been running linux (*variants) for years now because of how painful windows has become. Now, I wouldn’t go back at all if it weren’t for licenses and games paid for.

  • And the same approach also solved Vista, 45 updates found in 5 mins!!

  • Excellent Job I researched this for hours before I joined your blog and step # 2 was the answer for me. I just wanted to thank you for your great support on this issue.

  • its fantastic mr.krissmilne step 2 is worked
    thanks a lot

  • Gary Monteith

    Thank you so much. I’ve spent a couple days trying to get this to work. Microsoft support documents are a joke…
    Your advice did the trick after step 2 !

  • Thank you so much. Step 2 fixes my problem.

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