Windows Update Won’t

winupdateWindows Update Won’t: a reader asks…

Hi Coach, I’ve noticed that lately my Windows Update isn’t working. I’m not getting any updates, and it’s causing my computer to work really hard. Do you have a quick fix?

You know it’s important to keep Windows up-to-date, it seems like at least a few times a month there are important security updates that you simply must install to keep your computer and your personal information safe. But what do you do if you get an error and Windows can’t update?

There are rare situations where system problems are so significant that a simple fix won’t work. But for most errors, you can get Windows Update working again by following this 2-minute procedure. Be aware that typos aren’t tolerated by Windows, each of the commands must be typed exactly including spaces and capitalization. Here are instructions for Windows 7 users:

  1. command-prompt-window-screenshotClick the “Start” button, and type “cmd” (without the quotations). When you see the “cmd.exe” icon, right-click on it. A menu pops up and then left-click on “Run as administrator”. You’ll have to approve that with User Account Control dialogue box by clicking the “Yes” button. This will open a window with an old MS-DOS style command line, and a blinking cursor.
  2. On the open Command Prompt window copy and, one at a time, copy or type each line of the below list of commands. After typing each one, press your ‘Enter’ key to execute the command. Be sure to wait for each process to finish before you type or paste the next command.
  3. Now, run Windows Update and try checking for and installing updates.

Here is the list of commands that you’ll type in during step 2:


net stop wuauserv
net stop cryptSvc
net stop bits
net stop msiserver
ren C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.old
ren C:\Windows\System32\catroot2 catroot2.old
net start wuauserv
net start cryptSvc
net start bits
net start msiserver

The first four commands instruct your operating system to stop update services. The next two rename your Windows Update hidden folders to something else. The next four commands then restart update services, and then you exit the command prompt.

When you run Windows Update immediately after doing this, Windows will reconstruct a new set of the folders you renamed. It’s likely that something corrupted the old ones and stopped Windows Update from working.

Microsoft Fix it logo, image from
Click this to open a new page at

If the above is beyond your comfort zone, there is a Microsoft Fix-it at that might do it for you. Just click the link or the image to open a new tab or page, then click the blue Run Now button and follow the on-screen instructions.


  1. you saved me…(windows update). thanks so much chris. ill be back for more.

  2. jelabarre

    Failed, along with any DISM, SFC & Win Troubleshooter fixes. Even a “refresh” won’t fix it. MSWin is broken, as always.

    • Sorry you’re having serious problems with your installation of Windows jelabarre. It sounds like you’ll need to do a clean install and start over from scratch.

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