Repair or reinstall Windows Update

By . Last modified: 2014-08-29.

How to use Fix It tools for repairing or reinstalling Windows Update / Microsoft Update / Automatic Updates in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1

The "joys" of Windows Update not working in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1 are numerous. This might end with not receiving or not being able to install updates, repeated installation of same updates, or in worse cases, endless reboot cycles in Windows Vista, 7 or 8/8.1.

First, check if you have enough free disk space (at least 1 gigabyte) on your hard drive. If not, read the Remove temporary files article on how to get rid of unnecessary files with CCleaner.
Second, verify that time and date are correct on your PC  - a date in the past or the future prevents both Windows Update and Genuine Windows Validation tool from working properly.

Windows XP users must have Service Pack 3 installed to use Windows Update or Microsoft Update. Without it, "Error number: 0x80190194" failure message appears while searching for updates.
If you experience serious and prolonged (several hours) slowdowns while Windows Update is searching for updates, and Task Manager shows that svchost.exe is constantly using 99-100% of CPU resources, see this tutorial at This applies to brand new (aka clean) installs of Windows XP Service Pack 3, and to those who have long turned off automatic updates and now want to apply latest patches.

Luckily there are options for quickly fixing Windows Update problems or completely reinstalling it in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1.
You can also run these tools in Safe Mode with Networking, although they might then tell you that problems were not fixed.

Windows 8 and 8.1 built-in troubleshooter

Windows 8/ 8.1 users can open Settings search using keyboard shortcut Windows Key+W (or by swiping in from the right edge of screen and tapping Search icon). Type troubleshoot and click or tap Troubleshooting.
Then click Fix problems with Windows Update in the System and Security section.
Windows 8, Control Panel, Troubleshooting. Click Fix problems with Windows Update.

Click Advanced, verify that Apply repairs automatically is enabled and click the Run as administrator link.
Windows 8, Troubleshoot and prevent computer problems, Windows Update. Click Advanced and then click Run as administrator

You might have to restart your computer for changes to take effect.
Windows 8, Troubleshoot and prevent computer problems, Windows Update, Restart your PC. Click Next.

If this does not resolve the problems, see System Update Readiness Tool.

Option 1: applying quick fixes to Windows Update

This option now works in all supported Windows versions (from XP to 8.1).
First thing to try is to open Microsoft's How do I reset Windows Update components page.
If the following dialog pops up on the web page, click Run now.
Microsoft Fix It Tool 50202 page, pop-up dialog about automatically fixing problems. Click Run now.

If the pop-up does not appear, expand the appropriate section (Windows 8 and Windows 7, also applies to Windows 8.1; or Windows Vista and Windows XP) and click the run now button.
Microsoft Fix It Tool page, click the 'Run now' button in appropriate section to start downloading the tool

After downloading and launching, Microsoft Fix It installation will start. Click Accept.
Microsoft Fix It tool for Windows Update, License Agreement. Click Accept.

Click Detect problems and apply the fixes for me (Recommended).
Microsoft Fix It tool for Windows Update. Click 'Detect problems and apply the fixes for me'..

The Fix It tool will then create a System Restore Point, download Windows Update components and run fixes. This usually takes a few minutes only. Click Next after the process is complete.
Please note that in Safe Mode the Fix status column will always state "Not fixed" because Automatic Updates service cannot be started.
Microsoft Fix It tool for Windows Update, Troubleshooting is complete. Click Next.

After this, you can test if Windows Update works correctly. Closing the Fix It tool is optional.
If you want to give feedback to Microsoft, choose an option in Did this fix your problem screen and click Next.
Microsoft Fix It tool for Windows Update, Did this fix your problem? Click Next.

Finally, click Close in the Thank you screen.
Microsoft Fix It tool for Windows Update, Thank you. Click Close.

Option 2: downloading Fix It tool 50202 to reinstall Windows Update completely

This option is available for Windows XP, Vista and 7 only.
If the first option did not help, Microsoft also has the very powerful Fix It Tool 50202 that completely reinstalls Windows Update components. This one is especially helpful in cases where Windows Update is not able to check for updates (for example, error 800700C1) or installs the same updates all over again (several cases with infinite loops of .NET Framework updates).

Because Microsoft just loves to move the tool randomly around (and its site search is not helpful either), I now provide direct download link to Fix It Tool 50202.

Please save the file, do not run it automatically!
After downloading is complete, run the program (named MicrosoftFixit50202.msi).
Click I Agree in the License Terms page and then click Next.
Microsoft Fix it 50202, License Terms. Click I Agree. Then click Next.

As you can see, the Run aggressive options (not recommended) check box on Additional options screen is unchecked. I strongly suggest to execute the repairs without enabling aggressive options for the first time - this will retain all Windows Update and Microsoft Update settings.
Click Next.
Microsoft Fix it 50202, Additional options. If running the tool for the first time, leave the 'Run aggressive options (not recommended)' check box unticked. Click Next.

In Windows Vista and 7, User Account Control will appear. Click Continue or Yes.
The tool will then create a System Restore point and run the fixes. Some files might be downloaded during the process.
After the program has done its job, click Close.
Microsoft Fix it 50202, complete. Click Close.

A prompt to restart your computer appears. Save open documents and close all open programs. Then click Yes.
Microsoft Fix it 50202, You must restart your system. Click Yes.

Verify that Automatic Updates, Windows Update or Microsoft Update works. If not, re-run the Fix It Tool 50202, but tick the Run aggressive options (not recommended) check box this time.

After using aggressive options, you must configure Windows Update again.

Option 3: install System Update Readiness Tool

System Update Readiness Tool is available for Windows Vista and later. It can resolve problems with broken update packages and damaged system files.

Windows Update error 80246002 (Windows could not search for updates) in Windows 7 is one example where other tools fail and System Update Readiness Tool works perfectly. The trouble often starts after automatic upgrade of Windows Update Agent to version 7.6.7600.320 in August, 2014.
Windows Update, View update history. If 'Windows Update Agent 7.6.7600.320' is installed and you encounter error 80246002 while searching for updates, it is time to install System Update Readiness Tool.

Go to Microsoft's What is the System Update Readiness Tool? page and download the package that applies to your computer. Please see Windows article for instructions on how to find out which version your device has.
System Update Readiness Tool page at Microsoft. Click 'Download' for the version of Windows your device has.

Click Download again in Microsoft Download Center page. Please note that the file is over 500 megabytes in size.
After launching the downloaded package, click Yes to install it.
Windows Update Standalone Installer for System Update Readiness Tool. Click 'Yes' to install it.

System Update Readiness Tool installation takes easily up to 30 minutes or more, even over an hour on slower computers. It does not usually require a reboot.
Click Close after the installation is complete. Windows Update should be running fine now.
System Update Readiness Tool, installation complete. Click Close.

Next steps if all options fail

In case neither of the recommended actions help you get Windows Update running, do not rush into formatting drives and performing clean install of Windows.

With the sad exception of Windows Vista, you can do a non-destructive reinstallation of any version of latest Windows. This will keep your personal files and settings, installed programs and apps, and return Windows to a fully working state.
The guides for different versions are listed below:


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