This Windows Update problem could be one of a number of issues. Depending on the time that this issue occurs it could be a software problem with Windows, file structures in IE, or with the update program itself (unlikely though). It could also be a hardware problem with your computer that Windows cannot detect until the program runs into it when it checks your computer. It could also be that you?re using a cracked version of Windows or a school edition.
Here are some steps to attempt before retrying the update process:
- Download and run Windows Defender from Microsoft.com (it?s free and works great). Microsoft saw the business that?s being produced out of anti-spyware programs like Ad-Aware and Spybot, so they developed a program specifically made for Windows XP. I recommend this program because you could assume that Microsoft would know more about its own operating system than Ad-aware. However, if you want to get fussy about it, you could use all three programs to scan your computer for spyware.
- Run antivirus software. Beside McAfee and Symantec, which some viruses have been able to disable, I also recommend AVG from Grisoft (www.grisoft.com). AVG also has a free version available for those of us who don?t want to spend a lot on essential software that should be built-in anyway.
- Update all drivers for your hardware. Don?t just try Windows Update for updating drivers, Microsoft won?t have the latest ones, just ones they know work fine. Go to the hardware manufacturer?s website and search for the correct driver for your hardware. You can go to your device manager by right-clicking on you?re My Computer icon and clicking Manage. Here you can see the devices you may need to reinstall. Make sure there are no unknown devices.
- Delete your temporary internet files and cookies. While this may not seem important it has caused problems before, especially with IE6. If there was a mal-formed file in the temporary internet folder in IE6 it would sometimes make saving images impossible in any other format than BMP and could cause the Temporary Internet Folder window to crash if you viewed the files.
- Defrag your hard drive, this should be done regularly. Windows XP has a fancy defrag that runs in the command-prompt so that you can make a scheduled defrag and not have the bulky Defrag window show up. Try making a scheduled task in Windows and for the program to be run you can type in ?C:\WINDOWS\system32\defrag.exe C: -f ?v?. Set the task for at least a weekly schedule.
- Run a chkdsk. Go to Start ? Run ? type ?chkdsk C: /F /R?. The /F fixes errors, the /R marks bad sectors as not writable and relocates the data inside the sectors (one implies the other but it doesn?t hurt to have both). You will need to restart your computer before it runs on your hard drive.
- After your computer restarts from the chkdsk you can return to the Windows Update website and try again. If you continue to have problems you might try to uninstall the Windows Update activeX program. I mention this last because I have never performed this step and am unsure about the exact process. Have fun.
By the way, if you are using a cracked version of Windows then Microsoft won?t let you update at all anymore. I suggest one of the many Linux versions for a free operating system then.
Submitted by: Allan B.
Various malware (viruses, trojans, worms, etc) are now smart enough to try to block attempts to get rid of them - and access to web sites that would help you do it. So you will need to download some good anti-malware tools (antivirus scanner, spyware scanner, rootkit scanner, etc.) using a known clean system and burn them onto a CD. Then you can go to your system and boot into Safe Mode and run those tools to see if your machine is infected and possibly get rid of them as well. The Ultimate Boot CD (http://www.ultimatebootcd.com) and the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows (http://www.ubcd4win.com) have many of these tools already on them and may be all that you need to solve your problem. The nice thing about using a boot CD is that no Malware that resides on your hard disk can corrupt what boots or runs from the boot CD. Like other malware tools, you can't download the boot CDs once and for all. You should get the latest revision every now and then. You can run the one you have and if that doesn't do it, download the latest revision and try again. For example, the latest UBCD4Win has added a rootkit scanner and additional spyware tools like Spybot Search & Destroy. Other updates of the CDs are done just to add the latest definition files for the tools that are already present.
A Microsoft official recently stated (paraphrased) that the new malware is getting so devious, and cleaning them out so complicated and time-consuming that it may become routine to wipe your system partition to get rid of it. He further suggested that creating an automated method to do the restoring from such a wipe would be in the best interest of corporate users. I'm guessing it would also be in the best interest of us peon individual users. Take from that what you will - but one session with HijackThis may make a believer of you. Reference:
OTOH, it may be that some malware may simply have altered your HOSTS file to block your access to these sites. Boot into Safe Mode and do a file search on your C: partition for- HOSTS -to locate the file. Most HOSTS files will be empty unless you have specifically changed it yourself. You can view the HOSTS file in Notepad to see what is in there as it is a simple text file. I suggest that everyone should be using a custom HOSTS file such as the one available from
Just be sure to read the info about how the HOSTS file works and how to avoid slowdowns in XP/2000/2003/etc. when using this file. This one works great for me. It speeds up all my Internet surfing and I avoid seeing lots of ads and other junk.
One caveat that affected me is that the custom HOSTS file has lines that block most access to "page hit counting" sites including the one that delivers the Andale counters in eBay listings. I found that line and commented it out so I could see the Andale counters in my listings. That line has the word "honest" or "honesty" in it, so you can use the Ctrl-F text search function in your text editor (some may need to use WordPad to edit the custom HOSTS file as it may be too big for Notepad - the original HOSTS file is usually very small and can be edited in Notepad) to find it and comment it out. If accesses to other sites that you need are affected, just locate the appropriate line and comment it out. Once you have your HOSTS file the way you want it, set the file to 'read-only' (right click on file name or icon in Explorer or My Computer > click on Properties > check the ReadOnly check box > click on the 'Apply' button > click on OK) so that malware will have a harder time modifying it.
Submitted by: Bill H. of Groton, NY
Unfortunately, there is not quite enough info in your question to pinpoint a possible cause. For instance, do you get an error message?... Does I.E. freeze up?... Did you get the "Blue Screen Of Death?... Etc. However, you did mention that you "reformatted". If, by this, you actually mean that you reformatted your hard drive, re-installed a fresh copy of WindowsXP Pro on the newly reformatted hard drive, and then tried to visit the Windows Update site (before installing any other software or hardware) and experienced a crash... then this eliminates 99% of all the causes and really leaves only a few possibilities.
1. Your version of Windows cannot be verified by the Update sites. This can be caused by using a pirated version that uses a hack to activate it.
2. Your pirated CD or DVD has a virus, trojan, or rootkit on it that will not allow Windows Updates to occur.
3. You are using I.E.7 beta. There have been reports of certain computers crashing when visiting the Windows Update site. Use I.E.6
4. You have hardware issues with system memory, I/O, or mainboard. A certified technician can test this for you.
Without more info, it is quite difficult to even guess what it might be. There is a file on your computer that is updated each time you visit the MS Update site, and if there are any errors or failures they will be logged there. You can access this file here: C:\Windows\Windows Update.log Look for any entries that may indicate an error and then Google the error code. If your issue has been experienced by others, there should be Google hits, otherwise you may be in a boat by yourself in the middle of the ocean. Some of the other community members may be able help as well. Good luck.
Submitted by: Steve B.
With hundreds of Windows XP computer at work I see this problem quite often and more often than not the following fix works.
Right click on the "My Computer" icon and select "Manage"
In the Computer Management screen which appears, expand the "Services and Applications" link at the bottom of the list on the left hand of the screen, and then select "Services"
In the list of services on the right of the window, right click on, "Automatic Updates" and "Background Intelligent Transfer Services" and select Stop. They may already be stopped.
Now open a Windows Explorer session and browse to your windows directory/folder, usually c:\windows\
In there will be a directory/folder called "SoftwareDistribution". Open it up and there should be a number of other directories (about half a dozen) and maybe one or 2 log files. Select them all and delete them. These directories are where the updates are downloaded before being installed, and they some times get screwed up.
If you want start the "Automatic Updates" process again by right clicking on it and select start in the "Computer Management" window from before. I keep it off as I run it manually every few days anyway.
Clearing your internet temp files would probably not hurt too. In IE, select "Tools" in the menubar then Internet Options, then press the "delete files" button located in the middle of the window.
Try running Windows updates again and it should work.
Deleting the files and directories "SoftwareDistribution" directory also fixes the problem where updates download but fail to install.
Submitted by: Stuart E.
Not sure which error code you are receiving, but I struggled with a similar problem just last night. I received Error Code 0x80070005 when Windows Update tried to install the Genuine Advantage tool. I found the solution that worked for me at the Microsoft Newsgroup Support site by searching for 'Error 0x80070005' in 'Windows Update'. After searching through several threads, I found the solution in the thread 'Error Code 0x80070005' in an answer by Patti MacLeod on 3/31/06. Here's a link to the thread:
The solution involved running a diagnostic tool from Microsoft that was recently updated to correct this problem. You can download it here:
I downloaded the tool and ran it. When the screen appears it lists some diagnostic information but did not appear to actually do anything. However, the problem was corrected in the background by the tool, because after running Windows Update again I was able to install several critical updates.
I hope this solves your problem. If your error code is different you can search for it at the Newsgroup site. Another helpful suggestion was to Google your error code and MVP (MVP is a Microsoft designation for Microsoft 'experts').
Submitted by: Eric J. of Houston, TX