Windows Update service wuauserv hangs on starting, hogging all the spare CPU

Standard Acer Extensa 5220 laptop running Vista Home basic and AVG antivirus.

The Windows Update service hangs when it is started by svchost. It displays in Windows Task Manager as "starting" but when you select "Stop Service" from the right-click menu the message displayed is "The operation could not be completed. The requested control is not valid for this service." The calling Svchost.exe process hogs all the CPU so that CPU Usage goes up to 100% and stays there indefinitley, with fairly predictable results on the performance of the machine.

The only way I can find to make the machine usable is to put the service on manual start. If I subsequently start Windows Update from the Start menu, it hangs, the CPU goes up to 100% but the service still displays in Task Manager as "stopped". Occasionally the Windows Update window allows me to "check for updates" - but it just reports "Windows cannot currently check for updates, because the service is not running...". This, of course, means no more updates. Usually the Windows Update window will not close.

I see that problems with Windows Update go right back to 2007. Despite similar problems haunting hundreds if not thousands of users I have not been unable to find a fix. Is there one?

AJ

 

Question Info


Last updated November 11, 2019 Views 81,966 Applies to:

* Please try a lower page number.

* Please enter only numbers.

* Please try a lower page number.

* Please enter only numbers.

This answer is provided “as-is.” You bear the risk of using it.

6 people were helped by this reply

·

Did this solve your problem?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for marking this as the answer.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this response?

Thanks for your feedback.

Please answer all of the following diagnostic questions in a correspondingly-numbered list in your very next reply (no need to quote this post):

1. When (approx. date) did you purchase the computer?

2a. When (approx. date) did you install AVG Free (I assume) and was the computer fully-patched at Windows Update at the time?

2b. What anti-virus application was installed before you installed AVG, was your subscription still current, and did you uninstall it before you installed AVG?

3. Has a(nother) Norton application or a McAfee application EVER been installed on the computer?

4. Did a Norton free-trial or a McAfee free-trial [pick one] come preinstalled on the computer when you bought it? (Doesn't matter if you never used or Activated it.)

5a. Are ALL of the following updates listed in View installed updates (not Update History)? [1]

    • KB2621440, KB2641653, KB2665364 & KB2647518

    • KB2647516, KB2654428, KB2633874; KB2598479, KB2631813, KB2644615, KB2585542; KB2633171, KB2393802 & KB971029

    • KB2544521 or Windows Internet Explorer 9 [<=TELL ME WHICH ONE]

5b. When (exact date) was Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (KB948465) installed according to Update History (this time)? [2]

6. Is Firefox, Chrome or any other alternate browser installed?

7. Are you in the habit of using "Registry cleaners" (e.g., Registry Mechanic; System Mechanic; RegCure; RegClean Pro; Advanced SystemCare; McAfee QuickClean; AVG PC TuneUp; Norton Registry Cleaner; PCTools Optimiser; SpeedUpMyPC; Advanced System Optimizer; CCleaner)?

8. Have you ever done a Repair Install or a clean install of Vista for any reason?

====================================================
[1] Start | Control Panel | Programs and Features | View installed updates (in left-hand menu)

[2] Start | Control Panel | Windows Update | Update History (in left-hand menu)

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

2 people were helped by this reply

·

Did this solve your problem?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for marking this as the answer.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this response?

Thanks for your feedback.

FixIt fails trying to install PowerShell (tried several times).

The system readiness tool fails with the error code 0x80080005

Both these appear to try to start wuauserv via Svchost. That's precisely the problem I have, wuauserv won't initialise, it just hangs while trying to start gobbling up all spare CPU cycles. So no "fix" that involves wuauserv is likely to work.

 

1. When (approx. date) did you purchase the computer? several years ago

2a. When (approx. date) did you install AVG Free (I assume) and was the computer fully-patched at Windows Update at the time? pretty much when it was new

2b. What anti-virus application was installed before you installed AVG, was your subscription still current, and did you uninstall it before you installed AVG? too long ago to remember

3. Has a(nother) Norton application or a McAfee application EVER been installed on the computer? I think McAfee was installed already

4. Did a Norton free-trial or a McAfee free-trial [pick one] come preinstalled on the computer when you bought it? (Doesn't matter if you never used or Activated it.) yes

5a. Are ALL of the following updates listed in View installed updates (not Update History)? [1]

• KB2621440,KB2641653, KB2665364 & KB2647518

• KB2647516, KB2654428, KB2633874; KB2598479, KB2631813, KB2644615, KB2585542; KB2633171, KB2393802 & KB971029 NO can't see any of them - but then my Windows Updater isn't working! Silverlight installed on 14/3/12 but the previous one was 13/6/2011; there are 283 in all  

• KB2544521 or Windows Internet Explorer 9 [<=TELL ME WHICH ONE] Can't find it. IE 8 is running 8.0..6001.18975

5b. When (exact date) was Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (KB948465) installed according toUpdate History (this time)? [2]                                              27/10/2009  

6. Is Firefox, Chrome or any other alternate browser installed?    Chrome

7. Are you in the habit of using "Registry cleaners" (e.g., Registry Mechanic; System Mechanic; RegCure; RegClean Pro; Advanced SystemCare; McAfee QuickClean; AVG PC TuneUp; Norton Registry Cleaner; PCTools Optimiser; SpeedUpMyPC; Advanced System Optimizer; CCleaner)?

Absolutely not - don't trust them

8. Have you ever done a Repair Install or a clean install of Vista for any reason? No

2 people were helped by this reply

·

Did this solve your problem?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for marking this as the answer.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this response?

Thanks for your feedback.

You can try carrying out the procedures in the Fix it manually. The instructions are revealed by clicking the line 'Click here to show or hide detailed information' after you close the pop-up.

 

However, I suspect you have some serious corruption which cannot be dealt with easily.

This answer is provided “as-is.” You bear the risk of using it.

Did this solve your problem?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for marking this as the answer.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this response?

Thanks for your feedback.

1a. Had the preinstalled McAfee free-trial period (and/or your McAfee subscription) already expired by the time you replaced it with AVG Free

1b. Did you (a) uninstall the McAfee free-trialware AND THEN (b) download/run the McAfee Consumer Products Removal Tool & reboot (c) BEFORE you installed AVG Free or any other anti-virus application (including a purchased McAfee application)?

2. Is KB2618444, KB2586448, KB2559049, KB2530548, KB2497640, KB2482017 and/or KB2416400 listed in View installed updates?

3. Neither KB2393802 nor KB971029 is listed in View installed updates, is that correct?

4. If Windows Live Messenger or Windows Live Mail is installed, what version is it?

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

Did this solve your problem?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for marking this as the answer.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this response?

Thanks for your feedback.

I had a similar problem.  After a delay, the windows update window would show a red warning and when clicked, a popup would say something like "Windows Update Service Not Running".  I tried various things found on the Internet, to no avail, including the Fixit tool for Windows update.  Finally I got it repaired by doing the following (found on another website):

When Windows Update Services goes bad there are any number of errors that may occur.  In the worst condition a corrupted WUS may well bring down your entire system.  Here are some troubleshooting tips for how to diagnose and solve corrupted WUS problems:

One of the most troubling potential issues is a lockup of WUS on boot.  Frequently this will bring up a notice that the Windows Update failed (as a "subcomponent" of SVCHOST.EXE).  When this happens it will present a dialog to send a message to Microsoft.  If you click to send the error message to Microsoft your machine then locks up and cannot be accessed without a reboot.

The following steps may assist you in fixing this issue:

  1. DO NOT click the "send message to Microsoft" ok button.  Shut the machine down (Start/Shut down/Shut Down/OK).
  2. When you bring your machine up repeatedly hit the F8 key on the keyboard.  If you get to the normal windows boot screen you didn't hit it soon enough.  If you get a menu offering you various boot modes, select "SAFE MODE"
  3. You will still need to login - do so with a user account that has local administrator privileges on your workstation.
  4. Once the machine is booted Choose Start/Run/Services.msc
  5. Find the item that is marked "Automatic Updates". If it is marked as "started" right click on it and choose "Stop".
  6. Close services.
  7. Open My Computer
  8. Go to Tools/Folder Options/View tab and be sure the following options are set accordingly:
    1. Display the contents of system folders is CHECKED
    2. Show Hidden Files and Folders is CHECKED
    3. Hide Extensions for known file types is UNCHECKED
    4. Hide Protected Operating System Files is UNCHECKED (You will receive a warning - proceed to unhide the OS files anyway)
  9. Press OK on the Folder Options
  10. Open C:\Windows
  11. Locate and click ONCE on the "SoftwareDistribution" folder.  Right click SoftwareDistribution and choose RENAME.  New name should be SOLD (or anything else you'll remember).  Press Enter to save the new name.
  12. Reboot the machine
  13. Run Windows Update by going to http://update.microsoft.com .  You may need to reinstall some components.  Be sure it's not asking you to "upgrade" to Update.  If it is - go ahead and do upgrade to UPDATE first, then do a normal Windows update.

This problem is most often caused by an interrupted installation, or a corrupted installation patch download file.  Either will be fixed using this method.  If this does NOT work you would need to work on reregistering the Windows Update dll files, which I'll cover later.

2 people were helped by this reply

·

Did this solve your problem?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for marking this as the answer.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this response?

Thanks for your feedback.

I had this problem.  I simply installed Windows updates offline and the normal Windows Update service worked again.  Some update fixed it.

Download the latest version of WSUS Offline at http://download.wsusoffline.net/

Run the UpdateGenerator.exe until it's done

Run the UpdateInstaller.exe in the "client" folder and reboot.  Run and reboot several times.

Many recent updates should have installed.

Try normal Windows Update through Windows again.

70 people were helped by this reply

·

Did this solve your problem?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for marking this as the answer.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this response?

Thanks for your feedback.

Spent about a week trying to get hanging Windows Updates to work. Used all suggestions out there given by Microsoft knowledge base and other MS gurus. Nothing.. no luck. Wondering why people choose Apple or Linux..

Decided to give http://download.wsusoffline.net/ a try. And it did work - thanks to all contributors of this post and software developers.

Note that it will take forever to install the updates first time - it almost looked like it hung again. Leave computer on 'high' power mode, so it doesn't standby installing. Mine took overnight, I almost gave up the hope, but - 'miracle happened', in the morning I found all 100 updates installed.

Follow instructions the previous post - should be good.

Did this solve your problem?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for marking this as the answer.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this response?

Thanks for your feedback.

You can try this: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/971058

and this: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/947821

So I tried both links but they didn't stop the 100% CPU problem.

This MS fixit https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/kb/971058 found and corrected several things but left me with one error "Windows Update error 0x80070490"

Finally I found the solution here http://www.sevenforums.com/windows-updates-activation/341766-cannot-install-updates-error-0x8024001e.html

Basically, you rename C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution and let windows recreate the files.

3 people were helped by this reply

·

Did this solve your problem?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for marking this as the answer.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this response?

Thanks for your feedback.

The cause for the issue of high load of svchost process is usually the Windows Update Service (wuauserv) – thus I would not recommend to set this crucial service to manual or even to disable it (or terminate) as suggested by some. The same issue bothered me, too, for quite a while and even if I managed fixing it by spending hours researching and installing FixIt’s or whatever, after a while it would reoccur, namely after each Microsoft Patch Day (usually around mid of the month). But I finally found a solution that is working for me.

Update Service is crucial for quite obvious reasons and usually it just needs some time to run and to install the updates or whatever it needs to do. (And even if a while later you still see 0% downloaded and bother to think nothing happens, some patience usually pays off – at least that worked for me). The issue is the high CPU-load during that time and in consequence a low performance of the whole system driving us crazy. The solution is to isolate Updates Service in a separate instance of svchost and to set this process to a Lower Priority. By doing that the Update service would still run in background, but will not overload the resources of the system.

BTW: my computer runs on Windows 7 Pro, but this solution should work on Vista or Win8 as well

Solution:

  1. You can temporarily stop the Update Service to have a working system by typing the  following command in the Windows Command Process (make sure you run the cmd shell with Administrator privileges):     net stop wuauserv
  2. Make sure you have the latest Windows Update Agent (or Client) installed. Google will help to do that.
  3. You will need Microsoft Sysinternal’s Process Explorer installed. It is free and it is just a great pro tool. It is needed to set processes’ priorities.
  4. Now we will isolate the Update Service in a separate svchost-Process by editing the registry (regedit):   Navigate to the following key in the registry:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\wuauserv

    Now set the
    Type to the following Value
    Original setting = 0x20

    New setting = 0x10 (Hex).
  5. Close the Registry Editor and restart the computer.
  6. Open Process Explorer and find the high load process. It is supposed to be svchost, check the service within that process to be wuauserv. Now set the process priority to Bellow Normal.
  7. You might also like to disable your Antivirus. I noticed my Update Service starts downloading the updates much sooner with my AVG temporarily disabled. As soon as the updates have started to download you can re-enable the antivirus.

3 people were helped by this reply

·

Did this solve your problem?

Sorry this didn't help.

Great! Thanks for marking this as the answer.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

Thanks for your feedback, it helps us improve the site.

How satisfied are you with this response?

Thanks for your feedback.

* Please try a lower page number.

* Please enter only numbers.

* Please try a lower page number.

* Please enter only numbers.