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What can I do to get my Windows XP (currently SP2) up to date when my Windows Update constantly fails without error code? (Just telling me the updates haven't been installed.)

It doesn't matter if I try to update using the built in Windows Update or the update website. As well there's no difference wether I try to install SP3 or install the other updates manually.

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Check the eventlog -> Setup & System section. To open the eventlog, open the run prompt and type "eventvwr". Let us know if you see any errors. – Ganesh R. Sep 12 '12 at 16:15
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Can you try these things:

Reboot. Then try again. (The reason behind this is that previously applied windows updates might block other windows updates until the host has restarted.

Check for error message in WindowsUpdate.log (This file is usually found in c:\windows). Then check the event logs eventvwr.msc) If it has a error, act on it, if not go to 2)

Log in with an administrative account.
[start] [run] [cmd]
type net stop wuauserv
(leave the prompt open)

Go to %windir&\SoftwareDistribution (Usually C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\.
Delete everything. (You can do this because the windows update service is stopped).
Go back to the open cmd prompt and enter net start wuauserv. (Some files will not reappear in the SoftwareDistribution folder.)

Try windows update again.

If it still fails go to another computer and download a liveCD.
Boot from the CD and check the computer for a virus and or a root kit. (Some of these block windows updates).
This post on SuperUser has a lot of information in this.

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hint #2 worked very well, thank you! – ch.bailey Feb 25 '13 at 14:00

The most common reason for Windows Update to fail is that you have a backlog of several updates that can't all be installed together. If you haven't already done this, try applying the updates one-at-a-time, starting with the oldest (lowest numbered).

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