This is quite a common fault on systems I have seen on PC systems ranging from XP through to Win 8. There are various ‘fixes’ mentioned out there, some of which are potentially damaging, so I thought I’d share my method of repair here. It has worked on 99% of computers we have had through the repair shop.
The fault often is triggered by a single downloaded update that does not want to apply itself. Subsequently, all the other downloaded updates fail too. If left, these updates will grow in quantity every week until they are difficult to diagnose, so do this sooner rather than later.
- First off, check you are logged in as an administrator on the system.
- Make sure that your clock set to the correct time, date, year and timezone. Don’t skip this, double check it!
- In the following steps, make sure you download the correct version for your operating system, eg Windows 7 64-bit etc. If you are not sure which version you have, look in Control Panel, Select “View by small icons” then click on System. Here, you’ll see your Windows Edition and Sytem Type. While you are in here, check that you can see “Windows is activated”. If not, this is your problem and you need to activate Windows. To do this, click Start, type in “activate” then click on Activate Windows.
- You can disable your antivirus temporarily but this is not necessary unless you try this method and it fails. Make sure if you do this that you are behind a firewall, either the Windows one or one in your router.
- Open ‘Computer’ and navigate to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download then delete everything you find in this folder.
- Now, go to Windows update history on the computer (Control Panel, Windows Updates and select View Update History). Look at the ones that failed and note the KB number. You can then go to Microsoft Download Center and download each one individually by searching on the KB number. Use Internet Explorer for this, not Firefox/Chrome etc. After manually downloading and installing each one, restart the computer and repeat the process until each update is applied. Don’t skip the restart, this is necessary to apply many updates.
- Once the list of downloads is finished you can create a restore point and then try an automatic Windows Update again, it should work now.
You can also give this a try – Windows Update Troubleshooter. While this is, in theory, an automatic fix to the ‘failure configuing Windows updates’ issue, it doesn’t always work so I prefer to use my method above first which can isolate the problem to a single download. Good luck!