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

Last updated January 6, 2017
Technical Level : Basic

Summary

Sometimes, Windows Update will check for updates endlessly for hours without a response. This article will explain how to apply 5 patch files that fix the updating loop. You must have Windows 7 Service Pack 1 installed. 

Important: In order for this fix to work, you need to follow the instructions exactly. It may be helpful to print this page.


Below are the links to the five downloads. Note that some of the downloads have versions for either 32 or 64-bit operating systems. Select the appropriate one for your computer. If you're unsure which version to download, see this link.

MicrosoftFixit50202

Windows Update Agent

KB3020369

KB3172605

KB3102810

Details

Preparing to Apply the Patches

1. Disconnect from the Internet. You will need to stay disconnected for the entire procedure.

2. Open an elevated command prompt (Click Start > Type cmd > Right-click and select Run as Administrator)

3. In the command prompt window, type the following commands and hit Enter after each:

net stop bits

net stop wuauserv

Important: Before continuing to step 4, make sure that the services have stopped successfully. You will receive a message saying "The service was stopped successfully".

4. Make sure that the services have stopped, and then close the command prompt window and navigate to the directory "C:\Windows" (where C: is the drive Windows is installed on)

5. Find the SoftwareDistribution folder, and delete it. If there are some files that won't delete, that's okay.

Applying the Patches

6. Open the first downloaded file (MicrosoftFixit50202) and follow the instructions. Make sure to run the Aggressive Options of the Fix it. When it finishes processing, restart your computer.

7. After the restart, open the next file and apply the patch. When it is finished, restart again. Repeat this for the remaining files.

Verifying Necessary Services

8. Now we need to make sure the services used by Windows Update are started and are assigned the correct startup type. To do so, you need to open the Services console (Click Start > Type services.msc).

Windows Update uses three services to function:

a) Background Intelligent Transfer Service

b) Cryptographic Service

c) Windows Update Service

Each of these services must be running and set to start Automatically. If not, double-click the service, and set the options manually. See the diagram below:

 In this example, the service selected has Started, and its Startup Type is Manual.

Checking Windows Update

After making any necessary changes in the Services console, you can connect to the Internet. Then check for updates. You should now be able to receive, download, and install updates.

Depending on your setup, it may take 3-4 hours or longer for WU to find updates. The new agents are registering themselves for the first time, so be patient.


If this did not work for you, please post in the comments section below and I'll try to provide some advice. Good luck and happy patching!