Windows 7 Won’t Update? Here’s What to Do

Like Windows XP before it, Windows 7 has proven to be a reliable and steadfast platform with many users reluctant to upgrade to newer versions. Even over a year after the end of mainstream support for Windows 7 by Microsoft, web traffic statistics site StatCounter reports that over 40% of users are still using Windows 7, although Windows 10 is on the rise. However, Windows Update issues have frequently plagued Windows 7 over the last year, and this has been particularly troublesome for fresh Windows installs. In this blog post, I will examine this problem and offer some solutions.

Operating System Usage Graph

Background

Mainstream support for Windows 7 has ended, but extended support will continue into 2020. Hoping to simplify the update process on a fresh install, in May 2016 Microsoft released what has been dubbed the “Convenience Rollup,” encapsulating many Windows 7 updates that came after the release of Service Pack 1. While the Convenience Rollup includes a large number of updates, there are many others that are not bundled with it and these additional updates can take quite some time to find and install through Windows Update. Microsoft notes that this was done on purpose:

We intentionally did not include any specific post-Service Pack 1 updates in convenience rollup 3125574 for which the following conditions are true:

  • They don’t have broad applicability.
  • They introduce behavior changes.
  • They require additional user actions, such as making registry settings.

One of the biggest issues users have encountered with the Convenience Rollup is when Windows Update gets stuck on “Checking for updates” with the graphic continually looping, giving no sign of progress being made.

Checking For Updates Windows 7Paul Thurrott recently posted an article titled “The Convenience Rollup Makes a Big Difference, But Windows 7 Updating is Still Broken”. He later updated the article, writing that after two hours of waiting, Windows Update eventually did offer to install additional updates.

Windows 7 Update Guide

Before proceeding, be sure to determine whether your computer has 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) Windows, and whether Service Pack 1 (SP1) is installed.

  1. Open System by clicking the Start button, right-clicking Computer, and then clicking Properties
  2. Under the System section, you can view the system type. Additionally, the Windows Edition information will tell you whether Service Pack 1 is installed

It is also recommended to change your power options temporarily so that your computer will not enter sleep mode during the update process.

Set Power Options to High Performance

Updating From a New Installation

Time Estimate: Between 90 and 200 minutes (1hr 30m and 3h 20m)

1. Start with a fresh install of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) with network drivers installed.
  ● If your Windows 7 install does not include Service Pack 1, be sure to install Windows 7 Service Pack 1 first.
2. To install the “Convenience Rollup,” you will need to install a prerequisite patch first. Get KB3125574, known as the “Convenience Rollup” and KB3020369, known as the “April 2015 servicing stack update for Windows 7.” 
  i. Download and install the prerequisite KB3020369.
  ii. Download and install the appropriate version of the Convenience Rollup (KB3125574).
    ○ Option 1: Direct download links
      ■ x64 (64-bit)
      ■ x86 (32-bit)
    ○ Option 2: Using the Microsoft Update Catalog (requires Internet Explorer)
      a. Search for KB3125574 and add the one matching your system type to the basket
      b. View basket
      c. Click the ‘Download’ button.
      d. Install the file containing KB3125574 in the name.
3. Restart the PC.
4. Run Windows Update.
  ● It is recommended to change settings to ‘Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them’.
5. Check for updates.
  ● This will take quite some time, about 1 to 2 hours.
  ● There are approximately 50 to 70 updates available as of May 2016.
6. Apply updates and reboot, even if there is an error.
7. Repeat steps 4, 5, and 6 until all updates have been applied.

What to Do If There Are Problems

While the steps above will get Windows 7 up-to-date for most users, there are still problems that can arise. For example, if you tried to run Windows Update before applying the Convenience Rollup, the older version of Windows Update Agent may have caused additional problems with the update process that would need to be resolved. In some cases, this will mean doing a thorough reset of Windows Update.

1. Close the Windows Update window.
2. Stop the Windows Update Service.
  i. Run a Command Prompt as Administrator (Start > All Programs > Accessories > Right-click Command Prompt > Select “Run as administrator”)
  ii. Enter the following command without quotes: “net stop wuauserv”Stop Windows Update Service Command Prompt  Note: If the command does not show success, run the command again
3. Run the Microsoft FixIt tool for Windows Update issues.
4. Install the latest version of the Windows Update Agent.
  ● Be sure to choose the correct version for your operating system and system type.
5. Restart your PC.
6. Run Windows Update again.
  ● This may take a couple of hours to complete!

This should resolve most issues with updating Windows 7. If you are still encountering problems installing Windows 7 updates, you may want to check for your specific issue in Microsoft TechNet. Alternatively, it may be worth considering updating to Windows 10 before the free update period expires on July 29th, 2016.

While there are reports of Windows 10 updating frequently, there are far fewer reports of issues where Windows Update does not quickly performing successful updates. Before going this route though, be sure to check out our other blog articles regarding our support for Windows 10.

I hope this guide helps you to keep your install of Windows 7 up-to-date so your Plugable products keep plugging along!

7 comments on “Windows 7 Won’t Update? Here’s What to Do”

  1. Albie Reply

    Thank you for a very helpful post, it worked for me, I really needed those extra files, and the stop windows update tip. Win 7 updated with the rollup, but stalled on updating further after everything was done, ( yes I left it running for a couple of hours) so I left it overnight, and today it updated on it’s own. I chose to manually install only the important updates.I might recommend not trying to update right away, and get on with reloading your programs etc. Seems like a waste of time if Win needs a date change or something to proceed with the rest of the files, which I’m guessing are mostly security updates.
    I noticed MS Essentials did the same thing, could not update definitions after install, and on its on updated later.
    Yes,, I created an image so this will never happen to me again !!
    Many thanks for solving a huge issue and in the end it was easy and very straightforward !

    • Robert F Ryan Reply

      I agree, Albie. Great article, but critically, I left my machine on all night when the update did not happen for over 3 hours and… voila… all the updates were available to be installed in the morning! Thank you!

  2. Dom Bucciarelli Reply

    Great article. This worked for me as well. Clean install of Win7 SP1 wouldn’t update, and the windows update service drove CPU and memory usage to ~100%. Also, started by manually installing KB3102810 which is an update to the Windows Update service, which seemed to help with the CPU and memory usage issues.

  3. Richard Reply

    Great! Thank you! Finally, somebody who actually knows – this fix worked for me. I suppose there might be other issues that cause this problem for other people, but after much searching and trying other suggestions/supposed fixes from other sites, this is the only one that worked for me.

    • Richard Reply

      I should add that I did have to run the “Windows Update Diagnostic” (from Microsoft) before and after each installation recommended here. For some reason, whenever I tried to install an update, errors were created in the registry, etc. But the “Windows Update Diagnostic” repaired these errors, and thus allowed the updates recommended here to install properly. The combination of the the two updates recommended here, and the “Windows Update Diagnostic” finally allowed me to run the normal automatic Windows Update. I hope this helps others.

  4. Charlie Reply

    I also created a new administrator profile, and I did the downloading and installing thru the new account. I was getting a “you don’t have permission to make any changes” in my old administrator profile. It’s possible the first profile became corrupt.

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