How to Fix: Windows Update Won't Update

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Sam G. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

My Windows Update won't update. It happened when I upgraded to Windows 8.1; I had over 100 updates to download. I managed to download most of them but there were a few that failed. Windows Update says the error code is 8007045B on the failed updates. I did a search for 8007045B in Google but the information is conflicting, confusing, and for the most part all the articles I've read go around in a loop. I also came across an article on PC World which says to do revert my restore point - but that didn't work, either. Apparently this has to do with the 'CBS Manifest' being corrupt, whatever that is. Can you help? "

My response:

Ah, the "Windows Update won't update" error. This is a very common problem, as well as a frequently asked question. I did read the PC World article but, frankly it's an extremely shallow approach and won't resolve a deeply rooted problem when Windows Update is broken and has been broken for a long time.

How to Fix: Windows Update Won't Update

I've written step-by-step instructions on how you can fix Windows Update if it won't update, or if it's completely broken and won't update at all (regardless of error message), including how you can fix the error 0x80070490 (also known as error 8007045B).

The steps I've written will work for all editions of Windows, including Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and Windows 10.

Here's a summary of what you need to do:

  • Step 1: Run CHKDSK (Check Disk)
  • Step 2: Use The System File Checker (and DISM)
  • Step 3: Run the System Readiness Tool
  • Step 4: Use the Windows Update Diagnostics Hotfix
  • Step 5: Use the Windows Update Troubleshooter (Win7)
  • Step 6: Reset the SoftwareDistribution Directory

Please note that the steps below are cumulative; as such, please follow them from top to bottom.

Update 20160119: I'm getting a lot of people asking for my help even though this guide is fairly straight forward and definitive. If you are a computer novice and this guide doesn't make any sense to you, OR if you have followed this guide to the letter and still cannot get your Windows Update to work, I can most likely fix it for you via the remote desktop support I offer - for a nominal fee. Simply contact me with your problem and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Alternatively you can view my online resume and qualifications here. I suggest you read the guide before you contact me, first.

Step 1: Run CHKDSK (Check Disk)

The first step is to run check disk (chkdsk) in order to ensure that your file system is not dirty. A dirty file system can cause all sorts of data corruption and can most certainly cause Windows Update to fail. To run chkdsk, do the following:

  1. Click Start, then click My Computer or This PC.
     
  2. A new window will appear; look for your C drive (icon) and left click to select it. Then, right click over top of the selected icon and choose Properties from the dialogue menu.
     
  3. A new window will appear; go to the Tools menu. Under the heading "Error Checking", click the button that says "Check Now".
     
  4. Ensure that "Automatically fix file system errors" is check marked, then click Start.
     
  5. You will most likely need to reboot your computer at this point.

Proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Use The System File Checker (and DISM)

The next step is to use the system file checker and applies to all versions of Windows.

Additionally, Windows 8 and 10 users can use the DISM tool, also described further down.

To do so:

  1. Open an elevated command prompt. In Windows XP, click Start, then click Run, and type in "cmd" and press Enter. In all other editions of Windows, click Start and type in "cmd" (no quotes); wait for the CMD.EXE or "Command Prompt" to appear in the search list, then right click over top of it and select "Run as Administrator".
     
  2. Use your mouse to highlight the text below:

    sfc /scannow
     
  3. Right click over top of the highlighted text, then select Copy from the dialogue menu.
     
  4. Go to the command prompt window, then right click in the middle of the window and select Paste from the dialogue menu. Press Enter on the keyboard to execute the command.

If you are running Windows 8 and 10, please also use the DISM tool:

  1. After the system file check completes, highlight the following command using your mouse:

    DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
     
  2. Right click over top of the highlighted text, and select Copy from the dialogue menu.
     
  3. Go to the command prompt window, then right click in the middle of the window and select Paste from the dialogue menu. Press Enter on the keyboard to execute the command.

After the system file checker (and DISM for Windows 8 and 10) has completed, you can try and run Windows Update again.

If Windows update still won't update, then proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Run the System Readiness Tool

This step applies to Windows Vista and 7 users only.

To get started, download the System Readiness Tool (hotfix):

Once the file is downloaded, run it and follow the onscreen instructions, then try Windows Update again.

If Windows update still won't update, then proceed to the next step.

Step 4: Use the Windows Update Diagnostics Hotfix

Windows 10 users can skip this step.

The following will run the Windows Update Diagnostics hotfix, which will also reset the Windows Update Components. To do so:

  1. Download and run the Windows Update Diagnostics:

    Windows Update Diagnostics for Windows 7 and 8

    Windows Update Diagnostics for Windows XP and Vista
     
  2. Once the hotfix has downloaded, run it and follow the onscreen instructions.
     
  3. Next, try and run Windows Update.
     
  4. If that doesn't work, try running the System Readiness Tool again (described in Step 3).

If Windows update still won't update, then proceed to the next step.

Step 5: Use the Windows Update Troubleshooter (Win7)

This step applies only to Windows 7.

Up to this point you've essentially prepped the system to run the Windows Update Troubleshooter so it runs in a 'clean' environment. The Windows Update Troubleshooter will run through a series of checks and will attempt to fix Windows Update automatically. To do so:

  1. Download the Windows Update Troubleshooter (Windows 7 only).
     
  2. Once the download finishes, launch the hotfix and follow the onscreen instructions.
     
  3. Restart your computer.
     
  4. Next, try and run Windows Update again.

If Windows update still won't update, then proceed to the next step.

Step 6: Reset the SoftwareDistribution Directory

This step applies to all versions of Windows.

The instructions below will essentially 'wipe out' the memory of Windows Update (including failed updates) and allow Windows Update to 'start over'.

To do so:

  1. Open an elevated command prompt. In Windows XP, click Start -> Run and type in "cmd" and press Enter. In all other editions of Windows, click Start and type in CMD; wait for the CMD.EXE or "Command Prompt" to appear in the search list, then right click over top of it and select "Run as Administrator".
     
  2. Using your mouse, highlight the following text, then right click over top of the highlighted text and select Copy from the dialogue menu:

    net stop wuauserv

    cd %systemroot%

    rename SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.old

    net start wuauserv
     
  3. To paste the commands you just copied: right click in the command prompt window and select "Paste" from the dialogue menu. The majority of commands (except for the last one) will execute automatically. For the final command, you will need to press Enter on the keyboard to execute it.
     
  4. Try running Windows Update again.
     
  5. If that doesn't fix it, try Steps 3 through 5 again.
     
  6. If that doesn't work, try any of the steps outlined in Microsoft's KB2509997 article (Windows Vista and 7 only).

Additional 1-on1 Help: From Dennis

If all of this is over your head, or you still can't get Windows Update to work properly, I can assist you using remote desktop support. Simply contact me and we'll set up a time to meet.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question -- or even a computer problem that needs fixing -- please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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Comments

dan_2160's picture

In addition to the excellent guidance Dennis proffers here, I've often found that installing just a few Windows updates at a time works. When there are scores of updates to install at once, the update process sometimes just sort of chokes when one update won't install. So sometimes it might be worthwhile to try selecting just one or a few updates at a time and see if that gets you anywhere. It's a bit of a pain in the butt, but this approach has often worked on our computers and those of clients.

PseudoGeek's picture

I did everything in the article, including going back through steps 3-5 again, all to no avail on a Windows 7 laptop. Then went through the steps referenced in PC Magazine or whatever. Still no updates. Back to your article, where I found the link to the Microsoft article which warns that normal humans are NOT to attempt this - it is for IT professionals only. Screw that, I said, throwing caution to the wind. After going through all that and STILL no updates, I went back through your steps 3-5 yet again, set the updates to automatic, and left for work. When I came back, it was ready to reboot and install 64 updates. I am so excited I could hug you but that would be weird.

Anyhow, in the amount of time that this took (an entire 8 hour day and 3 hours of another), a reasonably competent mechanic could have replaced the engine in my car. Why on earth does this have to be so dang hard???

Next time this problem crops up, I'm going to install Linux. I think I could figure out how to work that OS faster than going through all these steps again.

Thanks very much for the article; couldn't have done it without you!