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I'm looking for general advice on what to do when a Windows Update fails.

What are the First things you do when an update fails multiple times?

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One small one that's easy to overlook - make sure the system clock is correct! If it's too far out of sync with the MS servers you can get weird errors. –  Shinrai Feb 7 '12 at 16:09

5 Answers 5

Check the error code Address any issue found For example Error 80072f8f is known and there are a number of artilces on this

Check the event log for events related to the update- Address any issue found Again The event ID and message may lead you to a fix

Manually download the update and install

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Check the windows error log for any details that may lead to what program or service is causing the problem. MSI error numbers can also help pinpoint why an installer failed. Search any MSI error codes online for details.

Using the KB article number, search for a manual download of the update on the Microsoft site, and download and manually install the update. Most of the time that updates fail for me I do the manual download and install and it works. Only a few times over the years have I had to investigate the MSI error codes and logs.

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Just FYI, if the Windows Update issue is related to a security update, you can open a free support ticket with Microsoft. I've done that once and was very satisfied with their support (as always).

Sadly, I have a hard time tracking down the proper link I used back then. This site might be a good starting point (the "Get Help" link seems to send me to a familiar site).

That being said. The support technician first made me go through the basic troubleshooting steps (chkdsk, sfc, ...). Then he sent me an executable named au_check_v78f.EXE, which is a self-extracting archive that seems to contain a tool named AU Check:

echo --- AU Check Tool v78f ---
echo --- by Eddie Bowers - Microsoft Corporation ---

Given that I have no other source for the package, I can't link it here.

All I can say about that tool is, if I have a Windows Update issue, this usually fixes it. I was never interested enough to look into the details.

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Suspect malware is blocking Windows Updates. Perform a full system scan with AV software.

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Check if your clock is right, that is mostly the reason. Sounds simple but that fixed a lot of stuff which has to do with activation, windows updates or such...

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