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

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.



  1. Download and 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.




  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.

Ken Morley

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Worked for me!



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...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....

Chances are the computer came with a Norton free-trial or a McAfee free-trial preinstalled. When you did the clean install, the free-trialware would have been installed again (but invalid now).

Did you (a) uninstall the Norton or McAfee free-trialware AND THEN (b) download/run the Norton Removal Tool or the McAfee Consumer Products Removal Tool & reboot (c) BEFORE you installed a legit anti-virus application AND BEFORE you attempted to install any updates?


This is a Consumer-specific forum. You will find appropriate support for Win7 in these IT Pro-specific forums =>

~Robear Dyer (PA Bear)
Microsoft MVP (Windows Client) since October 2002


That's a good thought, but note that I had exactly the same symptoms and results regardless of whether I loaded from the manufacturer's media or the Microsoft RTM media.  We know that the Microsoft RTM media doesn't include any anti-virus.

Besides, I was ultimately able to successfully load from the manufacturer's media, provided I followed the procedure outlined.  I went through the whole process twice just to make sure it wasn't a fluke.

I still think that there is some problem with the Windows Update version 7.6.7600.320 that you get automatically from the Windows Update servers.  Once that was loaded, Windows Update never worked again.  And there doesn't appear to be any easy way to recover.

Thanks for the suggestion!

Ken Morley

Thank you very, very much for this.  Exceptionally useful

Hi all,

I'm having horrendous problems with my laptop after a failed attempt to install W10, but that's another story.  When I attempted to restore W7 I got the problem of Update hanging.  In researching this on my PC, I came across this helpful thread.  I was worried that the failed-to-update issue also afflicted the PC, but it eventually produced a long list, even though there are several instances of 7.6.7600.320 in the system.  Two questions:

1.  Please excuse if it's a silly question, but how do you install an update manually (eg 4) above?

2.  I have a list of updates on the PC which doesn't include W10.  When I go to install these, W10 starts to download.  When I stop it I see a link to "1 optional update".  When I click on that, I see W10 is ticked.  I untick it, go back to the main page and hit install.  W10 starts again!  I've tried repeating this after shutting down Update and also after shutting the PC down and restarting, but I can't get rid of it.  Please advise.


I look after 150 client computers.  I just did this last night with full success.

Here is the methodology I recommend for you.  First follow the first item here.  It will take a lot of patience -- many, many hours, but this works most of the time.  If after a long time, it still does not result in full complement of updates (don't waste time doing them in blocks, just full shot), then follow the 2nd item below.  After all updates are completed -- there are no more offered, follow the third item in this long set of instructions.  It works.

Windows update not responding

Before you start Windows Update, if your computer has not been up and running for a few days or more, start it and let it run without using it for some hours.  Turn off the sleep functions if they are set.  If yours is a laptop, make sure it is powered with the power cord.  Start Task Manager (right-click on the task bar) and look at the CPU % in use at the bottom of that window.  If it is more than 10%, you have to wait until what ever the computer is doing finishes before starting Windows Update.

Functions like Antivirus update and  scans, scheduled defragmentation, updates to Java, Flash Player, Adobe Reader and others must be completed BEFORE you start Windows Update.

I just did this on a laptop that had not been used for about 70 days.  It took the best part of a day to finally settle down and be ready.

Windows Update is dramatically slower than it was in the Spring of 2015, before Windows 10 began its merciless march.  There may be nothing wrong with your computer!  The problem is a hopelessly inadequate Windows Update service.  Likely it is overwhelmed sending millions of 5 gigabyte malware Win10 files to unwilling Win7 computers, using the same equipment and network that normally services you and I.

From Microsoft’s perspective, the updates you want are an extremely low priority.  They do not want you updating Windows 7.  They want you replacing it with Windows 10.

There is no reason to do this upgrade unless you are a real adventurer.  Windows 7 will be supported through January 2020.

Excellent read

I have seen cases where the green bar continued overnight and finally found the updates, then spent many more hours downloading those updates.

If yours is a notebook PC, turn off sleep and hibernate functions.  Leave WU running at least overnight, maybe longer

Stop trying to fix your computer.  You are likely to make a mess of it for no benefit.

Trying to fix your computer may be pointless, when the problem is your supplier.  Sort of like taking a part your car’s engine because it does not start, when the problem is the gas tank is empty.

One tip:  Check to see if the four services needed to run Windows Update are running, just after starting Windows Update.

Start, All Programs, Accessories, right-click on Command prompt choose Run as administrator.  In the black box type net start bits, it should be already started.  Now net start wuauserv; net start bits, net start cryptsvc  If any one of them responds that it is now starting, then the service was NOT running.  DO NOT RESTART THE COMPUTER OR Windows Update.

Now, your challenge is to be PATIENT.  This may take many hours.  If you have waited at least 6 hours, then you may have a problem.

If any one of the services, were not already started, type services in the text box above the start globe and find each of those services in the list (list below). You can do this while Windows Update is running.

Background Intelligent Transfer Services, Cryptographic services, Windows Installer, Windows Update.

They should be shown as Automatic or Automatic (delayed). If they are not, double-click on each as necessary, and change setting to Automatic

As soon as you get the first list of updates, check this list.  Right-click and hide any that are on your Updates list that correspond to this one, BEORE you click the download and update button.  You do not want any of these updates:


Windows Update not working

This is a very common problem lately.  In most cases, the following rather simple and quick process works.  This thread essentially lists a series of commands that I have found usually fixes WU.

Start, All Programs, Accessories, Right-click on Command prompt, Choose Run as administrator, OK.  Type the following in the black box:

  1. net stop wuauserv
  2. net stop cryptSvc
  3. net stop bits
  4. net stop msiserver
  5. ren C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.old
  6. ren C:\Windows\System32\catroot2 catroot2.old
  7. net start wuauserv
  8. net start cryptSvc
  9. net start bits
  10. net start msiserver
  11. pause
  12. Exit

Type services in the text box above the start globe.  Find each of the following and ensure they are set to automatic: Background Intelligent Transfer services, Cryptographic, Windows Installer, Windows Update.  Double click on each item and choose automatic.

Now re-start Windows Update.  Do NOT restart Windows.   Be very, very patient, it will likely take a long time.

If that does not produce results, you should download and run the following.  It takes a very long time to run as well.

If the above fails, use one of the following:

The 64 bit version Microsoft’s “System Readiness tool”

The 32 bit version.

Prevent Windows 10

January 29, 2016

Microsoft has turned a decades-long respected process — Windows Update — into a malware distribution system.  It is for all intents and purposes forcing innocent and content Windows 7 computer users into “upgrading” to its new Windows 10 version.  It promises to allow return to Windows 7 within 30 days.  That return process is flawed and leaves your computer virtually unusable and requires re-installation of Windows 7.  For some owners without a re-usable Microsoft product key or a factory restore partition on their computers, it results in a useless thing that used to be a computer.

Windows 10 is a completely new and very different Windows.  Nothing like anything you have used before.

  1. It is primarily an advertising/sales vehicle.  That’s the keen motivation and reason it is free.
  2. By adopting Windows 10, you sacrifice any privacy — essentially, anything on your computer is Microsoft’s and its partner’s to use as they see fit.
  3. Windows Update becomes non-optional.  You, as owner of your system no longer have control over what happens to your computer.  Microsoft will re-make Windows (on your computer) into what serves its purposes without asking your permission or opinion.
  4. Windows 10 as a system is still full of un-fulfilled promises and bugs.  Many of your programs will not run on Windows 10.  In fact, the “upgrade” process removes some.

So, if you like Windows 7, and most do very much so, I advise you to reject Windows 10 for the foreseeable future.  Be advised that Microsoft has committed to support Windows 7 until at least January, 2020.  Most of your current computers will last that long.

You must adopt a protective stance to prevent your Windows 7 system from becoming something you do not want.

I advise my clients to change the Windows Update Setting to Never check for updates.  Once a month, on the 2nd Tuesday, they will get an email from me advising to manually start WU and then hide every update except for ones specifically labeled Security.  In other words, only security updates will be applied.  In all of 2015, not a single update that was not security, was something that improved Windows 7.

Some may scoff at this idea.  Well they are incorrect.  Never means you are never giving Microsoft a chance to decide what you download and install.  It does NOT mean you will never update.  The difference is that now you take control and the responsibility of updating of Windows and Office.

Some may believe that Microsoft would not do such a stupid thing.

You must read Woody Leonhard (one of the most respected writers in the trade) Woody calls the Windows 10 download “crapware.”  Woody’s advice is that if you have Windows 7, keep it, you are better off by far.

If you see the Windows flag on the bottom right of your screen, chances are pretty high, your computer already has the Win10 files. Even if you do not, it may be on your computer shortly anyway.  Here are instructions on how to rid yourself of it:

First download and run GWX Control panel.  A free app:

It will allow you to prevent any future operating system upgrades and delete downloaded Win10 files, but it will not remove any of Microsoft’s installed or attempts to install spyware.

This process works, but it only works if you do all the steps and do them in order.

  1. Take Windows Update off automatic — Never check for updates
  2. Windows Update, Installed updates, WAIT a long time till you see the green bar complete its long trip to the right
  3. Now, search for each of the listed updates, uninstall them.  You must wait until the list is re-created each time.
  4. If there are others you want to uninstall, click Later
  5. Then, clear the search box and after the list is again displayed, enter another KB number.
  6. Restart the PC.  It may take a long time to process this.

If you choose “check for updates, but let me choose whether to download and install them”, Microsoft will download “important” updates like KB3035583 to your computer.  It will be pre-checked — selected.  Unless you check Windows Update (WU) and discover this BEFORE you shut down, it will install it during the shut-down process.   Hiding accomplishes nothing.

This is more than annoying.  It goes way beyond that.  It is underhanded, dishonest and just plain wrong for Microsoft to do this.  There is no offer to accept or refuse.  There is no informed consent.  There is not even an idea of what it is your getting and what the result is if you change your mind.

List of updates that if already installed should be removed:



From my experience, once Windows Update 7.6.7600.320 is installed, you won't have a successful outcome no matter what you do.  Once that version gets installed, it's time to reload from the Windows 7 media.

To manually apply KB3083710, browse, scroll down to "Method 2" and download the file that matches your OS version and architecture.  These are Windows Update Standalone Installer files that have a compact, embedded version of Windows Update included in the file.  

When you execute the file, you will notice that it begins "Checking for updates" just like online Windows Update does.  After the scan completes, it will have only found a single update - the one that is included within the file.  Select the update and apply as normal.

Since these Windows Update Standalone Installer files will go through the "Checking for updates" scan just like online Windows Update, the scan will never finish if Windows Update 7.6.7600.320 is already installed.

Once you get to the point where you can successfully run the normal, on-line Windows Update, I always apply updates in batches of no more than about 50 and then restart before applying the next batch.  

When you see the Windows 10 Upgrade in Window Update, right-click on it and choose "Hide update" and you shouldn't see that option again.  You can always "Restore hidden updates" later if you change your mind.

Good luck!

Ken Morley

Canadian Tech:

If the goal is a clean restore from Windows 7 media as outlined in my original post, then it *seems* like your solution is the long way around.  If the goal is to upgrade-in-place an existing computer - which differs from my original post, then yours may be the better choice.

For the record, I tried many of the individual fixes you mentioned without ANY success.  This is even though I was very patient and let Windows Update run overnight (for a full 8-10 hours) on at least two occasions.  I am certain that had I waited days, it still would have never completed, because Task Manager showed that Windows Update was not actually doing anything.

I also tried forcing started the services as you suggest and that also made absolutely no difference.  Several of those services will stop/start as needed and when needed.  If Windows Update is stuck Checking for updates" and you notice one of the services is not running, it probably won't make any difference to force it started.  Again, that's just my own experience having spent several days on this issue.  Your experience has probably been different.


Ken Morley

My experience and observation that is the only way back from a Win10 install, even if not completed is a full re-install of Win7.  If you attain success otherwise, I sure would like to hear of it.

Canadian Tech:

I agree with you entirely.  If a Windows 7 to Windows 10 Upgrade fails, I would never have any confidence in that PC without doing a clean restoration to Windows 7 from the media.

While fixing a failed Windows 10 upgrade might be possible, it would probably take until sometime after Windows 14 is released ;)  Anyone who values their time and sanity should just reload to Windows 7.

Ken Morley

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Last updated August 3, 2020 Views 104,098 Applies to: