Windows update service not running? Here is how to fix it

Updates are a constant issue with Windows. They are inevitable, but they don’t always install smoothly. If you see a message saying “Windows Update cannot currently check for updates, because the service is not running“, you have a problem. Read on, and you will learn how to solve it in no time!

What causes the Windows Update service to not run properly?

As usual, there are many possible reasons, and it is not easy to find out what’s going on. Some of the causes can be:

  • a proxy or VPN preventing the updates from running
  • not enough disk space
  • database corruption
  • Creator Update: the last major update caused problems to a lot of users

Other miscellaneous errors might also be at play. Luckily, you don’t have to know what the reason is, you can just try the following methods until one of them works.

Run Windows Update Troubleshooter

  1. Press Windows>Settings, then choose Updates&Security.
opening Windows settings
opening update&security settings
  1. Go to the Troubleshooter section, select Windows Update then click Run the troubleshooter.
starting Windows update troubleshooter
running Windows update troubleshooter
  1. Follow the pointers on the screen.

After the troubleshooter finished running, restart your computer and see if the update is working now. If it isn’t, there are still many options you can try.

Make sure update-related services are running

  1. Type “serv” in the Search bar, then click on Run as administrator to open the Services Manager app.
opening services manager as administrator
  1. Find the Windows Update service in the list, right-click then choose Properties.
opening Windows update service properties
  1. Set Startup type to Automatic. If the service is currently stopped, click on Start, then Apply.
setting Windows update startup type to automatic
  1. Repeat step 4 with the Cryptographic service and the Background Intelligent Transfer Service.
selecting background intelligent transfer service
selecting cryptographic service
  1. Restart your computer.

Check if the updates are installing. If they aren’t, there is one more trivial thing you can check.

Turn off metered connection

When you don’t have unlimited internet, it is wise to turn on metered connection, so updates don’t download. However, if you left this setting on and forgot about it, it might now be preventing you from updating.

  1. Right-click on your internet connection icon on the system tray, then select Open Network & Internet settings.
opening network&internet settings
  1. Click on Wifi or Ethernet depending on the connection you have, then click on the icon of the connection.
selecting internet connection
  1. Settings will pop up. Turn the Set as metered connection toggle into Off.
turning metered connection off

Check if the update is working now. If it isn’t, try updating your Intel RST driver.

Download Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver

The most recent version of this driver is important in order for the update to function. You can download it from here.

Try again to see if the update is working now. If not, you will need to start tinkering with some advanced settings.

Deleting update files from SoftwareDistribution

  1. Type “services” then click Open to open the Services manager.
opening services manager
  1. Find Windows Update and double-click it.
opening Windows update service properties
  1. Set Startup type to Disabled, click Stop then Apply.
disabling Windows update service
  1. Repeat Step 3-4 with Background Intelligent Transfer Service.
disabling background intelligent transfer service
  1. Go to C:\\Windows\SoftwareDistribution. Press Ctrl + A to select all files, then right-click and choose Delete or press Shift + Delete to remove them.
deleting software distribution folder
  1. Open Service manager again, then restart Windows Update and BITS services.
restarting Windows update service
restarting bits
  1. Press Windows + I to open settings, then choose Updates&security.
opening update&security settings
  1. Go to the Windows Update section, then click Check for updates.
checking for Windows updates

Check if the issue is still there. If not, you have to touch some sensitive folders.

Rename the SoftwareDistribution and Catroot2 folders

SoftwareDistribution is a folder that stores files temporarily to keep your system safe while an update is running. Catroot2 is another essential folder when it comes to Windows updates: this is the one storing the signatures of the update files. They are both necessary, but sometimes they can get clogged up with old, corrupted files, preventing the update. By renaming these folders, Windows will be forced to create new ones and download the components again. This might just be the kick your system needs to start updating!

  1. In the Search bar, type “cmd” and click on Run as administrator to open Command Prompt.
opening command prompt as administrator
  1. Now we are going to stop all update-related services.
  • Type “net stop wuauserv” then hit Enter.
stopping wuauserv

This stops the Windows update service.

  • Type “net stop bits” then hit Enter.
stopping bits

This stops the BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) that keeps up the connection between the client and the server.

  • Type “net stop cryptsvc” then hit Enter.
stopping cryptsvc

This will stop the Cryptography Service.

  • Type “net stop msiserver” then hit Enter.
stopping msiserver

This will stop the Windows Installer Service.

  1. Now we are going to rename the two problematic folders to force Windows to create new ones.
  • Type “ren C:\\Windows\SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.old” then hit Enter.
renaming SoftwareDistribution folder

This renames the SoftwareDistribution folder.

  • Type “ren C:\\Windows\System32\catroot2 catroot2.old” then hit Enter.
renaming Catroot2 folder

This renames the Catroot2 folder.

  1. Now we are going to restart the services we stopped earlier. Type the following commands, hitting Enter after each:
  • net start wuauserv
starting wuauserv
  • net start bits
starting bits
  • net start cryptsvc
starting cryptsvc
  • net start msiserver
starting msiserver

Now we are going to change registry settings.

  1. First we are going to add two domain groups to the Administrators local group.
  • Type “net localgroup administrators networkservice /add” then hit Enter.
adding networkservice to localgroup administrators
  • Type “net localgroup administrators localservice /add” then hit Enter.
adding local service to localgroup administrators
  1. Restart your computer.

This has fixed the problem for many users. If it still isn’t working, read on and try the next methods.

Reregistering update files

Note: Before you start this method, it is advised that you create a backup or a restore point. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Type “restore point” in the Search bar and click Open to create a restore point.
opening restore point creator
  1. Click on the drive where your OS sits (usually C:\\), then click Configure.
configuring drive for restore point
  1. Make sure the Turn on system protection radio button is selected. This way, Windows will create a restore point before each update, so you can revert to that if needed. Choose the size of the restore, then click OK.
turning on system protection and checking disk space
  1. In the next window, click Create.
creating restore point
  1. Follow the instructions on screen.

Now we are going to work with the Command Prompt again.

  1. Type “cmd” in the Search bar, then click Run as administrator. First we are going to stop the update-related services.
  • Type “sc stop bits” then hit Enter.
stopping bits
  • Type “sc stop wuauserv” then hit Enter.
stopping wuauserv
  • Type “sc stop appidsvc” then hit Enter.
stopping appidsvc
  • Type “sc stop cryptsvc” then hit Enter.
stopping cryptsvc
  1. Now we are going to re-register all update-related files. These DLL files can cause random errors when not registered properly. We can fix that by the following steps:
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s atl.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s urlmon.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s mshtml.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s shdocvw.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s browseui.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s jscript.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s vbscript.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s scrrun.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s msxml3.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s msxml6.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s actxprxy.dll” then hit Enter.
re-registering update-related dll files 01
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s softpub.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s wintrust.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s dssenh.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s rsaenh.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s cryptdlg.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s oleaut32.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s ole32.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s shell32.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s wuapi.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s wuaueng.dll” then hit Enter.
re-registering update-related dll files 02
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s wups.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s wups2.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s qmgr.dll” then hit Enter.
  • Type “regsvr32.exe /s wudriver.dll” then hit Enter.
re-registering update-related dll files 03

It is a good idea to also reset your network configuration, which we will do in the following step.

  1. Flush your DNS cache and reset Winsock catalog by the following prompts.
  • Type “ipconfig /flushdns” then hit Enter.
flushing DNS
  • Type “netsh winsock reset” then hit Enter.
resetting winsock catalog
  • Type “netsh winsock reset proxy” then hit Enter.
resetting winsock proxy

Restart your computer.

  1. Now we are going to clear the Windows Update cache in the two critical folders we renamed earlier.
  • Type “rmdir %systemroot%\SoftwareDistribution /S /Q” then hit Enter.
  • Type “rmdir %systemroot%\system32\catroot2 /S /Q” then hit Enter.
clearing cache in SoftwareDistribution and Catroot2 folder
  1. In the last steps, we will turn those services back on.
  • Type “sc start bits” then hit Enter.
starting bits
  • Type “sc start wuauserv” then hit Enter.
starting wuauserv
  • Type “sc start appidsvc” then hit Enter.
starting appidsvc
  • Type “sc start cryptsvc” then hit Enter.
starting cryptsvc

Your update should run now.

Conclusion

Updates are important, but they are not always without troubles. Hopefully one of the above methods worked for you. Let us know your experience in the comments!

Leave a Comment