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Fix: Windows 7 Update stuck on "Checking for updates..."

Technical Level : Basic

Summary

If Windows Update is stuck checking for updates, you've come to the right place. If you are having other Windows Update problems, this article can also help you fix them. 

In most cases, the checking loop is caused by an incompatibility between your computer and Microsoft's Windows Update servers. To fix the problem, you will need to patch your computer with 5 update files to bring it up to date with the servers.

Note: In rare cases, the checking loop is a symptom of a corrupt operating system or activation issues. The problem would be much harder to solve in those cases and a reformat is recommended instead. 

 

To make things easy for you, I have coded a friendly wizard that will patch your computer for you. The download links to the wizard are posted below.

Note that there is a version for both 32 and 64 bit systems, so make sure to download the right version for your system. If you are unsure which one to choose, see this link.

 

When it's finished downloading, unzip the folder and double-click the Open Me file inside.

 


Details

Important Notes

  • Disconnect your computer from the Internet for the entirety of the installation. This prevents Windows Update from communicating to the Internet when we are performing surgery on it.
  • This fix applies only to computers running Windows 7 SP1. If you are not running Windows 7 SP1, the wizard will not let you continue.
  • In rare cases, the checking loop is a symptom of a corrupt operating system or activation issues. The problem would be much harder to solve in those cases and a reformat is recommended instead. 

      

 Screenshot of the wizard (version 5.0)


A Note to Advanced Users

In the past, this article contained instructions on downloading each individual patch and installing them one by one. Instead, I decided to simplify the process and write an automated wizard that installs the files and restarts the computer automatically. Here is what the wizard does:

  • Applying Microsoft Fix-it 50202 (stage 1 of 6)
  • Installing Windows Update Agent 7.6 (stage 2 of 6)
  • Installing KB3020369, KB3172605, and KB3102810 (stages 3, 4, 5 of 6)
  • Verifying that the BITS, Windows Update and Cryptographic Services are started and set to Automatic startup type (stage 6 of 6)

Although the automation is a welcome improvement, you can still access an old revision of this article that includes each individual update along with instructions on patching Windows yourself from here. Using the manual instructions can be helpful in pinpointing a problem. 

The Convenience Roll-up

After the installation finishes, you may choose to install Microsoft's new convenience roll-up. The roll-up includes all released updates for Windows 7 up to May 2016. This essentially functions as Windows 7 SP2 and you can use it to bring your system up to date in one click. 

If you wish to use the roll-up, it's not being offered via Windows Update. You will need to get it and install it yourself. If you would like instructions on this, please see my article "Update Windows 7 all at once using the Convenience Roll-up (SP2)" for more information. 


Good luck and happy patching!

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