How to Fix: 'Windows Resource Protection could not perform the requested operation' Error

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Infopackets Reader Alice G. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I have not been able to download any Windows Updates for a few months now. I stumbled across your guide on 'How to Fix: Windows Update won't Update', but when I try and run 'sfc /scannow', I receive an error message that 'Windows Resource Protection could not perform the requested operation.' I am basically stuck at this step and am not sure what to do. Researching Google on the Windows Resource Protection error comes up with extremely confusing and conflicting jargon. Can you please tell me how to fix this so I can fix my Windows Updates? "

My response:

Based on my experience, you have a 50% chance of fixing the 'Windows Resource Protection could not perform the requested operation' error. I have also scoured the Internet to find a solution (as I have come across the error a number of times) and there are essentially two ways to circumvent this problem, which I will explain below.

Option #1: Reboot into Safe Mode and Try Again

In my experience, the 'Windows Resource Protection could not perform the requested operation' error sometimes magically disappears after rebooting into Safe Mode; however, on others it does not seem to make any difference. I suspect that there is a program conflict that is causing the 'sfc /scannow' to fail, and that running the system in safe mode essentially side-steps this problem. The only way to know if it will work is to give it a try.

To do reboot into Safe Mode and run 'sfc /scannow', do the following:

  1. Click Start and type in "msconfig" (no quotes); wait for the msconfig utility to appear in the list and then click it.
  2. Go to the Boot tab on msconfig and check mark the 'Safe boot' option under the Boot Options heading.
  3. Click Apply, then OK, then close the msconfig utility. It may ask you to reboot to apply the changes. Select Yes. Otherwise, click Start and then Restart to restart the system in safe mode.
  4. Once Safe Mode appears, click the Start button and type in "cmd"; wait for CMD.EXE or "Command Prompt" to appear in the list, then right click the icon and select "Run as Administrator". Note: if you do not run as Administrator, the 'sfc /scannow' command won't work properly.
  5. Now that you have an administrative command prompt open, enter in "sfc /scannow" (no quotes) and press enter. This will take some time to complete.
  6. If you receive an error message during the scan process, then the easiest way to fix the problem is to do a Windows Repair install, which I'll describe in Option #2 (below).
  7. You will now need to reboot the computer so it boots into Normal mode (not safe mode). To do so, review Steps 1 through 3 above - but this time, disable the Safe boot option by removing the check mark in Step #2.

Option #2: Do a Windows Repair Install

A Windows Repair install effectively installs Windows over top of Windows, which will then fix corrupt system files that are preventing the 'sfc /scannow' command from completing.

In this scenario, you will not have to reinstall any programs and you will not lose any data; the only items touched are the operating system files. Also, when you do a Windows Repair install, it should also fix your broken Windows Update at the same time. It is advisable to do a disk image backup before you proceed as there is always a chance of something going wrong during the repair process, which can leave you with an unbootable system.

When the repair install completes you will have to download a bunch of Windows updates. That's normal because a repair install effectively resets system files to their original state using the Windows install media; therefore, you will need to re-patch the system again through the Windows Update process. This will likely take a number of hours to complete and will require a number of reboots.

If you do not have Windows install media, you can download it from Microsoft's website, though some restrictions apply. I have already written an article on how to issue a Windows Repair install, and download Windows install media; click here to read it.

I hope that helps.

Additional 1-on-1 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 and discuss your options.

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 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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