The Automatic Updates client is not always trouble free, and therefore can require some maintenance. This page outlines the most common problems with the automatic updates client.
Included on this page
If you have just built your machine, or it is a new machine, then there will be a lot of updates for you to download and install. By default, Windows should look for updates every 17 - 22 hours. If the updates don't start downloading (an icon will appear beside your clock) then you can force the update system to check and there are three ways you can do this, depending on your machine configuration.
If the entire "Automatic Updates" window is greyed out, and the machine is on on a domain, then your settings are configured centrally. You will need to do a small registry hack to force the update process to start. (Usual registry warnings - if you don't know what you are doing, then don't attempt this)
The third way works only on Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP SP2 and higher or Windows 2000 after it has used the latest version of the Windows update client.
Drop in to a command prompt and enter the following command:
Note the space between the exe and the / but no space after the / or in between the words detect and now
The machine will start its detection cycle within minutes of the command being issued.
For Windows 10 use the command
The forth method works in Windows Vista and Windows7 only.
Open Windows Update from Control Panel. Click on "Check for Updates" on the left.
If none of the above work, then you may want to try resetting the automatic updates system.
If your machine is a member of a domain, in an office for example, then the automatic update settings are probably controlled by your network administrator. However if your automatic updates settings are greyed out and the machine does NOT belong to a domain, then there could be other causes.
To fix the policy related issues, try the following:
(Usual registry warnings - if you don't know what you are doing, then don't attempt this)
Group Policy Editor
If you are using Windows XP Professional on a standalone machine then you should also check the Group Policy editor for configuration issues.
Does not Apply to Windows 10.
If you are being asked to install the same updates every day, then the catalogue that manages what updates you have installed is probably corrupt. There are a number of resolutions that you can try, in order to resolve this problem.
Resolution 3 (Windows XP only)
Resolution 3a (Windows XP)
In some cases we have had to rename the "catroot2" directory (such as putting .old after it) then rebooting for the problem to go away. You cannot delete the folder as it will probably be in use. After rebooting, Windows will create a new copy of the "catroot2" folder and this should resolve the problem.
Resolution 4 (Windows Vista and Windows 7 Only)
Run the Windows Update Troubleshooter.
Run the "Reset the Automatic Updates System" script on this page.
The Windows Update process has a log file, stored by default in C:\Windows\WindowsUpdate.log which can be viewed with notepad. To understand the log file and what it is telling you, refer to https://docs.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/deployment/update/windows-update-logs .
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