The Fix (?) for Windows Update hanging on Windows 7

My daughter has a netbook. I’ve configured Windows Update to identify updates but only download and install when directed to. Tonight is the second time I’ve sat down to download the updates and get them installed only to spend hours trying to figure out why they won’t download. I’ve been through several postings offering tips like:

1. Only do a few updates at a time (this isn’t the fix per se, but for small updates it will appear to have fixed it)

2. Disable your Security software. Yikes! I actually tried this, but to no avail.

3. Use the Windows Update Fix Program / Microsoft FixIt ( I tried this and it just ran and ran for half an hour and did nothing. I’ve seen reports of people having it find nothing wrong – huh, maybe nothing is wrong!

After many hours of trying to get it fixed, I finally discovered that it is not broken, it only appears to be. The more updates or the larger the size of the updates, the more likely it will appear broken. You will find yourself watching as the download bar scrolls back and forth and the download sits at 0%.

One more quick note – I haven’t noticed this on full Windows 7, but on my two PCs with the full version I allow Windows Update to automatically download and then prompt for install, so I don’t ever watch the download happening. On my daughters I don’t want her dealing with any problems automatic downloads might incur when she is at school using the netbook or doing homework (or being sneaky and doing facebook or something else that she always seems so surprised I know about.)

One more quicker note, I very reliable way to fix many issues (especially failed updates) is just to close Windows Update and delete everything in the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download folder. This is always worth a try and gets rid of a lot of used space too.

So, without further ado, here is what to do if you encounter this problem and just want to make sure it is working even though it doesn’t appear to be:

1. Yes, only do a few updates at a time. I usually do about five at most. This is just good practice and could save some headaches. Also, if there is a Service Pack, don’t do it until you’ve installed all other updates (unless they fail).

2. Don’t turn off your Security Software (at least not yet).

3. Don’t install the Windows Update Fix Software (at least not yet).

Let’s go through this and figure out if it really working, so you don’t waste a lot of time or put your PC and identity at risk:

Darn, Windows Update is hung:

Darn, Windows Update download is hanging

Let’s see if maybe it isn’t, but it is just downloading and not telling me. Go to the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download directory and see if the download is there. The best way to do this is sort the contents by clicking on the “Date Modified” heading. Now look for a file or folder that has a date time of, well, right now!

Finding out if it is actually downloading

Now, let the mouse hover over that file or folder (or right-click and select Properties). Once it has figured out the size, remember it, wait a bit (oh, how about count to ten), and then hover over it again and see if it is bigger. If it is, then you are probably facing this “no update of download” problem and have nothing to worry about other than waiting…

in which case you will eventually see something like the following:

it did download

So, now I’ve written this while waiting for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 to download (without updating the download %), and I’m guessing that this might be fixed by the new Service Pack. We’ll see.

Good luck to you, I hope this is all you are dealing with and not something worse.

One response to “The Fix (?) for Windows Update hanging on Windows 7

  1. Pingback: The Fix (?) for Windows Update hanging on Windows 7 | Jed's

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