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Windows Vista updates are available, but won't download and install


Windows Vista updates are available, but won't download and install

I was hoping someone could help me fix Windows Update. It's been months now since Windows Update on my Vista hasn't been functioning. It detects that there are updates available, but when I give the command to download, it attempts to and then say it failed. It's the same case when I tried to install the new Windows Live Messenger.

I've tried all the troubleshooting that Windows had to offer, and now I'm stranded. I'd really appreciate your assistance.

Submitted by: Jason R.

Here are some featured member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

Windows update or automatic update? --Submitted by Zouch

Check your services --Submitted by darrenforster99

Free support from Microsoft... --Submitted by John.Wilkinson

Vista update failure --Submitted by tanker12uk

I would try a Vista Repair --Submitted by PudgyOne

I would try a Vista Repair --Submitted by PudgyOne

If you have any additional recommendations for Jason, please click the reply link and submit your answer. Please be as detailed as possible when submitting a solution or suggestion. Thanks!

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Free support from Microsoft...

As this is a Windows Update issue, you are entitled to free technical support from Microsoft, regardless of current warranty status. Given their abilities to better troubleshoot such issues using their own diagnostic tools and non-public reference databases, I recommend you click here to begin a new support incident. There are simply too many possibilities and too much data in the resulting log files to adequately address in a forum setting, though others are more than welcome to provide their own suggestions.

Good luck.

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Microsoft support solved similar issue for me

I had a similar issue and got an error code that didn't make sense and there was nothing on-line. Microsoft's helpline solved it for me. It turned out that I shouldn't have left the old Office 2003 software installed when I upgraded to Office 2007, this caused all Windows office updates to fail. Good luck.

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Contact Microsoft

Do contact Microsoft. The same thing happened to me with Vista. The MS support person in India had me report several things to him then reinstall Vista, which solved the problem. My other symtoms were Vista would not recognize my virus protection program nor let me run MS Defender.

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Re-install XP

Reinstall XP. Wait for 7.0 to come out. Better to have something stable than grief.

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Forget XP

XP is out of date, why bothered on it ?
I wondered you been caught by Vista update problem for a week, which never occur for me.
I format first HDD and re-install Vista every 3 ~ 6month, and it take you 1~2 hours at most. So don't be hesitant to do reintall when you find any problem in Windows. 2 hours is much more better than One week delay.

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I wouldn't reccomend a schedualed reinstall.

If Vista Required a reinstall every 3-6 months there is no way I would ever reccomend it to anyone. Reinstalling windows is a pain and not only will you have to sit through the operating system reinstalling, but you'll also have to redownload drivers and reinstall programs. Depending on the devices and program you have, that can take a whole day of work. If you keep an up to date antivirus then there is no reason you should have to reinstall so often. I would suggest thinking of a reinstall as a last resort.

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Here's a possible fix
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Vista Updatre

Contact Microsoft via their support email. They helped me with the same type problem last year and I am running XP. For FREE........

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check device drivers


I had a case just like this recently, Windows Vista was not able to download and or install updates.
First - check the error code windows update will generate when it fails - most likely it some device driver which conflicts with the update. In my case it was the display drivers which needed to be rolled back to earlier version and that enabled the updates once again.
After the update finished installing a new version of display drivers was available again - and now all works well.

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Vista update Fails to install

I have on a few occasions had a Vista update tell me it failed to install. The best way to fix this is to go into programs and features in control panel, click on view installed updates and look for the update that failed to load. It will be there. Uninstall this update, restart your computer and then apply the update again. Works for me every time. Hope this halps

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Windows Vista updates wont download and install

First thing I would say is Vista operating system is like poking a sharp object in your eye over and over again. Vista OS crashed 19 times in 24 month period.

I recently switched back to XP and I was having the same issues it refused to up date and Microsoft tech could not resolve the issue. What a surprise.

I ended up uninstalling Explorer 7 and up dating to Explorer 8 and it allowed the automatic updates to finally work.

Good luck!

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Windows updates won't install

Try this: create a DOS batch file (a text file) named fixwinupdate.bat with the following commands:

net stop wuauserv
regsvr32 %windir%\system32\wups2.dll
net start wuauserv

And run it. See if that fixes your problem.

This comes from:;en-us;943144

It's for XP and it might or might not work for Vista (but if it doesn't there might be a similar but slightly different fix for Vista)

Barry Watzman

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A workaround, not a fix

If you know the number of the update, you can download it to a flash drive on another computer. I know this doesn't fix the problem but it lets you get the updates.

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CALL MICROSOFT!!!!!!!!! HELLO!!!! Duh!!!

#800S ARE FREE!!!!!!!! "SIGH ROLLING MY EYES" & No there not going to charge you, the trick is to get past the 1st call the rep who puts you through tech dept you have to agree to pay by cc then they put your call through & then tell the tech its microsofts problem & not yours that you should not have to pay & its free, it works for me every time Wink

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you are right

hey this person is right i forgot. or use a blank dvd-rw

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a few tips

First try right clicking windows update and run as the administrater,if that doesn't work open windows explorer,the one with no addons go to tools and click update.
You did not say if you were able to get any updates at all so if none of the above works try going to windows/validation and run the tool,the only other reason an update won't work is some need to be installed befor others.Example: Today I had 3 updates,tryed to install 2 failed so I clicked the see failed and tryed only one at a time they all went.
I hope this helps GL;-}

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Windows Update or Automatic Update?

Hi Jason,
it isn't obvious from your question whether you are explicitly running Windows Update or using Windows Update's Automatic Update feature. Are you running the Windows Update from the Start Menu or are you responding to the "Yellow Shield" in the task bar?

I have three different systems (plus another I'll mention later), so let me describe them - one appears to have similar symptoms to you, if you are using Automatic updates. Why three? I run a consultancy and they reflect what my clients are doing.

One uses the Yellow Shield Automatic Update feature. It is set to notify me when updates are available but lets me decide when to download and install them. When the yellow shield pops up, I pick a convenient time and tell it to go do it using the custom option This lets me choose what to install (IE 8 and WGA aren't popular with my clients and a few are still deferring service packs). If you use this method, you know that the information bubbles disappear by default but I always click on them to monitor progress, so I can wathch the downloads and installs. This works fine. If this isn't what you do, give it a try, it might work for you.

One client system doesn't work using this method - to be honest, I still haven't determined why but I have a clone of his system. It would pop up the updates are ready, click here to download and install but would then apparently never complete the download. I changed the Automatic Update setting to Download but let me choose when to install. I get the Updates are ready for your computer and it goes away and starts the download automatically. For some reason, I never get a notification that the downloads are complete. The only indication is when I shut the system down and there is a little shield on the shutdown button. Clicking this causes the updates to be installed and when finished, the system shuts down.

Note that neither of these methods installs all available patches, only critical and some important ones.

The preferred method is to use the Windows Update or Microsoft Update from the Start Menu. This method will offer all the critical patches, all the optional patches and all the hardware and driver patches. Note that your system must pass the WGA test for this method to work. You will need to use Internet Explorer to install the patches - there is a Firefox Add-in which supposedly does the same but I've never tried it. You also need to allow scripting and accept cookies during the process. You can delete the cookies afterwards, they serve no useful purpose. But do check you IE Internet Options to make sure you aren't disabling some essential scripting element. If in doubt, set it to prompt and allow it when you get the pop up. Mkae sure your firewall isn't blocking them either.

I would always recommend using the Custom Install option - you can read the description of each patch and decide whether to accept it. You will also see each patch download and then install. So if you have a download failure on a particular patch, use the custom option to ignore it and do the rest.

If this process fails, you could always try Microsoft Update instead, this will do a whole bunch of MS products as well as just Windows. It's an option on the Windows Update home page.

If none of this works for you, all is not lost. Try It's worth trying this anyway because it will check many programs, not just Microsoft. Fire up your browser and go to Select the online scan and follow the instructions on screen until the Start button turns blue. The defauult is to check standard file locations and flag only exceptions. Reverse both these options! Uncheck the box for exceptions only (under the blue start box) and check the deep scan box. Then click Start and it will scan your system. Note that you will need Java enabled in your browser.

It will flag all the missing patches and in most cases, give you a link to download the patch and then manually install it. Some products, Adobe Flash Player is a prime offender, do not remove older versions when newer ones are installed. Secunia will flag these but so long as you have a later one with the green tick, you can ignore them. Secunia is a great product and better yet, it's free to use the online scan. You have the option to set it to send you an email when products are updated - I recommend this and do a scan when you get the emails.

It could be that Windows Uodate has become "confused" by a partially installed patch (it happens). If you get your system up to date with Secunia, you may well find that it cures your problem for the future.

I'm assuming you've done a full virus and spyware scan, by the way, if not do one as soon as you have time. As a last resort, you might want to try turning off System Restore and then turning it back on again (take a manual restore point) I've had a couple of odd situations that that has cured.

Good luck!

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Just to be clear...

you should NOT ingnore older versions that are marked insecure. If you do that, the crime crackers can gain administrative rights to your PC - even if you are logged on as a restricted user!

It is best to remove any older versions, unless you find that some of your applications don't work without them. If they are insecure, it is time to get an update to the application that needs it, or dump the application also.

Even end of life applications and drivers should be considered a threat - malware won't hesitate to use it, they could care less one way or another; just as long as they can use it as a backdoor to your PC security.

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Windows Vista updates are available, but won't download and

I believe that it is that your security settings in internet options is set to high. Set your security and privacy setting to medium.


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Vista update failure

I had the same problem last month and found that the web site may show an update for your system is avaiable but when you download it and try to install it it fails I went digging in that mess which is windows update help files and tracked down a very sensible rersponse for once
If the download from windows update finds that the driver on your product is newer than the one its trying to install it will fail to install.This happened to me with a Nvida graphics card and a netgear wirless card the drivers installed with the cards where of a later version than the new windows update ones sounds crazy I know but its the truth hope this might help you it did me

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vista uddate failure

I has similar problems recently with this, trying to update various SQL components. It turned out the problem was with my administrator settings, which refused to change.
Solution? Set up a new administrator account, download from there, then delete the new account. Not only did I get the updates but it reset my privileges on my main account. Don't ask me how, but it worked.

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how do i set up a new administrator account since i have completely forgot my password to the original account ?

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Not that simple...

You can look into "NTPASSWD" as a free password recovery option, but you cannot create a new account unless you can successfully log in as an existing administrator.


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where do i get ntpasswd?

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Reseting your password in PC

1. Open up your PC.
2. Find 1.5 volt battery in the motherboard. Usually next to memory cards.
3. Remove the battery for approx. 1 minute. Make sure to see how it is fitted in.
4. Replace the battery back into its holder in the same position it was originally.
5. Restart the PC.

The battery supports your BIOS memory when the PC is turned off or disconnected in order to remember your BIOS set up. It will forget the passwords but will remember the rest of your configuration.

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Installation of updates

I had initial trouble installing multiple updates - installation was started, then repeatedly failed.
The cure as I found it was to only download and install a few at a time - maybe only one at a time, if it looks like a biggie.
It's a bit like giving someone too many jobs to do at the same time. Computers after all are only human ?!
Sometimes an update is not applicable, because whatever you have on your system is more up-to-date.

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Tech Support For Vista

If you go to, you can file a report with the tech people for Vista. I had a few similar problems though not exactly like yours. They were very quick in their response to help me. Gave me a lot of great info and even studied a lot of tech files from my system reports. There were very helpful and followed up many times with me, even after the problems were solved. I would totally recommend this. After all, you are only losing a few minutes to type up a report and submit it to Microsoft techs.
You have a lot to gain. My experience was excellent with these tech people in the Vista department. Good luck.

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Check your services

I have recently been asked to fix a very similar problem on a network of over 200 computers, this included machines running Vista, XP and 2000.

It turned out to be a virus called Conficker had changed all the system settings so we were unable to get to the update site. Here are a few things to check first. Nb. just because windows can't update doesn't mean there is a virus, it could be due to many reasons.

First thing to do go to this website

and download and run Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool.

ensure it completes fully with a full system scan (the one that says "this may take a few hours" not the quick scan).

If it finds any infected files restart the computer when asked to. It might not remove the infection but at least then you are aware of the problem. If it is a virus check you have a fully up to date anti-virus package (I recommend ESET Smart Security, which you can get for 30 day trial to remove the virus - nb. if you do use Eset be sure to remove any other antivirus software you have before installing, chances are if you already have an antivirus software installed it's not a very good one if it's let a virus in that Windows malicious software removal tool can find!)

Run the antivirus on a complete scan to ensure the virus has gone.

If it turns out it isn't a virus, or even if it is follow these steps next...

1. Type in the search box SERVICES.MSC and press enter (or go to "Start" then select Run... and type SERVICES.MSC and press enter)

2. A list box will open up with a load of services in it, go down the list to BITS (Background Inteligent Transfer Service). Check this is set to Startup type: Automatic or manual (make sure it isn't disabled, if it is double click on it and change it to automatic, click apply and then click start and click ok).

3. Go down again to Windows Update (Vista) or Automatic Updates (XP/2000). Again ensure that this is set to automatic and start it.

Nb. sometimes these services claim to be started automatic but they are not started, if this is the case double click on them and ensure they are set to automatic, click apply and click start. You must ensure these services are started for updates to work.

After doing this don't restart the computer, just run automatic updates and it should work. If you are still infected with a virus and you restart the computer you will find that the automatic updates and BITS services will turn themselves off again (this is the virus to stop you from updating your system).

If you still have no joy, ensure your computer is connected to the internet (I know this may seem like a fairly obvious one, but your computer must be connected to the internet and be able to get to Microsoft to update.)

The easiest way to do this is to go to and see if things start loading. If you get "This page cannot be displayed" or any other similar error, this is your problem. Even if you can get to sites like google, or cnet, something is blocking you from getting to Windows Updates and you need to find out what it is. If you have had a virus check your internet option (from Internet Explorer go to Tools->Internet Options and go to the Connections tab. The settings in here will depend on your ISP, most of the time if your either connected through a router (wireless or ethernet) you should have "Never dial a connection" selected (if it's greyed out don't worry that's fine) and in LAN settings the proxy settings should be blank and not ticked and the Automatically Detect Settings tick box should be ticked.

If it is set up to access the internet through a proxy note down the proxy and then remove it, see if that makes any difference, if it totally kills the internet put the numbers back in and re-tick the box for proxy usage. Most home networks wont use a proxy server, but some ISP's may, most set that up automatically though so the end user doesn't have to get confused, although quite a common trick of viruses is to add a proxy server. The proxy server then routes all traffic through their network, so they can do things like log sites visited, steal passwords, block updates, etc.

If you still aren't getting anywhere, try Wuinstall -

download the zip file and unzip it to your desktop, ensure the "Wuinstall" program is on the desktop and not in a folder e.g. use "unzip here" rather than "unzip to ..." or double click on the zip file and copy the program called wuinstall to the desktop using either windows copy and paste or drag and drop method (don't worry about the other files they're just licence agreements, you can read them if you want).

Go to start and in the search box type CMD (or click Run... and type CMD and press enter - nb. the run command isn't on all computers, it was replaced in Vista with the search box, although I have seen a few Vista computers this week with the Run box on them instead of search, it all depends on how you have Windows set up!).

A black box with text in it will appear (possibly the best way to get anything done in Windows, but only if you know what your doing - don't worry though if you follow my instructions you'll be fine).

Type CD Desktop and press enter, the prompt should change to something like

C:\All Users\Username\Desktop


Wuinstall /install and press enter

Wuinstall should now tell you it's searching for updates, then downloading updates, then installing updates. Remember there will be pop ups that appear on screen with end user licence agreements you need to accept these for the installation to be successful, if you cancel these the installations will fail. Also some of them (like Internet explorer Cool actually pop up behind all the windows so you need to keep an eye on the taskbar as well.

nb. this process can take quite a long time and at times the computer may seem like it isn't actually doing anything, especially when it's first scanning for updates, leave it going.

Once it's complete restart the PC, and your PC should be fully up to date.

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i tried your suggestions

Hey Darren,

I tried going onto but it takes me to the google homepage no matter what browser i use, but the address bar still shows as! pretty strange.

Also, the microsoft downloads link you gave me for the malicious software removal tool, when i click on download it takes me to the next page but no download box pops up. when i click on the 'click here if the box doesn't appear in 30 seconds' nothing happens.

Second, I tried the Wuinstall steps but on the command box it tells me: 'Error occured: Search failed 2 times'

For antivirus, I use Norton 360 v2 and it tells me there are no threats. Do you recommend i still get ESET?

And the services.msc i have tried before but to no success.

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