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Following a clean install, Windows Update remains at "Checking For Updates" forever...

KenMorley started on

I've reloaded hundreds of Windows computers over the years and I like to think that I am reasonably proficient at that process.  I have just encountered an issue that required a lot of time and effort to resolve and I am posting this to try and save someone else the same ordeal.

My customer had a late model, name-brand Windows 7/64 SP1 computer with a disk drive that was failing.  I changed out the disk drive with a replacement and went through the recovery process, using the manufacturer-provided Recovery Media.  That media is supposed to be identical to the image loaded on the drive from the factory - Windows 7/64 with SP1.

Following the reload, I followed my normal procedure and launched Windows Update.  Windows Update remained at "Checking for Updates" for hours, without ever displaying any updates to install.  I restarted the PC and tried again, with exactly the same result.  The Software Distribution folder would get built and there were plenty of entries in WindowsUpdate.log, but eventually disk activity would cease but CPU activity would remain over 50%.  And Windows Update just showed "Checking for Updates" forever.

I decided the reload must have been bad and so I repeated it from scratch again with exactly the same result.  At that point I decided the image on the manufacturer's Recovery Media must be defective and so I reloaded from my MS Partner Program Windows 7/64 SP1 DVD.  I had the same exact symptoms and result again.  I thought that maybe I was not waiting long enough, so I left it running overnight.  The next morning, it was still at "Checking for Updates".

I tried additional reloads using SURT and that also remained at "Checking for Updates" without accomplishing anything.  I tried using the Windows Update Troubleshooter - with no luck.  Ditto for manually resetting Windows Update and various combinations of these techniques.  I verified that Windows was activated and that date/time were correctly set.  Nothing made any difference.

I then started meticulously documenting everything as I went along and I think I've found a solution:

After the reload, I checked the Windows Update components in C:\Windows\System32. The components are wuapi.dll, wuapp.exe, wuaclt.exe and wuaeng.dll and all are version 7.5.7601.17514 dated 11/20/2010.  Once you launched Windows update or run SURT, these are all updated directly to version 7.6.7600.320.  At that point, I get the symptoms described above and there doesn't appear to be any way to recover.

When Windows Update is launched, it first updates itself automatically and without the user having any option.  It appears that upgrading the WU components from7.5.7601.17514 directly to 7.6.7600.320 causes the issue.  I suspect that it works fine for computers that are updated incrementally.

Once WU version 7.6.7600.320 is loaded, there is no easy recovery that I could find.

CURRENT PROCEDURE:

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  1. Download https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3020369 and https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3172605 in advance.
  2. Disconnect the computer from the Internet so Windows Update cannot automatically update itself to 7.6.7600.320.
  3. Perform a fresh reload from Recovery Media or Windows 7/64 with SP1 RTM.
  4. When the installation prompts for updates, choose "Ask Me Later".
  5. Apply KB3020369 and then KB3172605 in that order.
  6. Restore the Internet connection, configure update settings to your preference and launch Windows Update as normal.

Credit to Canadian Tech, Volume Z and other contributors for developing this current procedure.

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ORIGINAL PROCEDURE FROM JANUARY 19 2016 HAS BEEN DEPRECATED BY THE NEW PROCEDURE ABOVE:

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  1. Download KB3083710 and KB3102810 in advance.
  2. Disconnect the computer from the Internet so Windows Update cannot automatically update itself to 7.6.7600.320.
  3. Perform a fresh reload from Recovery Media or Windows 7/64 with SP1 RTM.
  4. Manually install KB3083710 and restart - WU components will now be version 7.6.7601.19016 dated 9/25/2015.
  5. Manually install KB3102810 and restart - WU components will now be version 7.6.7601.19046 dated 10/20/2015.
  6. Restore the Internet connection and launch Windows Update as normal.
  7. After a few minutes, you should have plenty of updates to download and install.
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Ken Morley

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