Why Won’t My Windows 7 Updates Install?

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windows 7 updates failWindows Update is one of the key elements of Microsoft’s operating system for keeping your computer working and up to date. Without it, your computer would freely collect malware, unpatched security holes would be exploited and generally things would run pretty slowly.

Fortunately, your computer does have Windows Update, capable of adding new functionality, fixes, service packs and device drivers to your Windows 7 PC or laptop.

But what happens when Windows Update goes wrong? How do you overcome issues installing the latest updates, and keep your computer secure and functional?

The Importance of Windows Update

Unless you’re running a computer that doesn’t have new software installed, you don’t add new hardware and the device is never connected to the Internet, then you probably won’t need Windows Update.

But then, who uses a computer in that way in this day and age?

The fact is, Windows Update is hugely important. You should have it activated and set to check at least weekly. As it is cleverly designed to download updates to your computer in the background, you really don’t need to worry about it – the automated system will keep your computer secure and functional while you carry out the usual tasks.

When Windows Updates Work

windows 7 updates fail

You can check the current status of Windows Update via Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Update, or by typing “update” in the Start menu and selecting the first result.

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From here, you can initiate an instant check for updates or schedule how often you would like Windows 7 to connect to the Windows Update servers to collect and install the fixes and drivers required by your computer. You can also instruct the computer to only download the updates, rather than install them as well – this is useful if you have limited space on your HDD or you want to avoid installing useless updates such as language packs.

Troubleshooting Failed Windows Updates

When a Windows Update doesn’t work, you should notice that items that have been downloaded to install on your computer don’t disappear from the list on the Windows Update page.

Basically, these items have failed to install, and will remain in the list until they’re installed or discarded (you can hide items by right-clicking and selecting the appropriate option).

windows 7 updates won't install

A failed update that has been (partially) installed will usually be highlighted with some sort of error message. To check your Windows Update history (of all items that have been downloaded for Windows to install), look for the View update history option on the left pane of the Windows Update screen.

windows 7 updates won't install

You should also visit the Install Updates screen to compare the updates and look for any differences that might indicate which Windows Update is causing the problem. You might also try uninstalling the last successfully-installed update just in case this has caused a problem with subsequent updates.

Another way of troubleshooting Windows Update is to manually start the process and download and install each pending update one at a time, allowing the computer to restart when prompted. It might not sound much, but this simple step could resolve the issue in a matter of minutes.

windows 7 updates won't install

There is another way that you can overcome Windows Update installation issues, thanks to the Windows 7 Troubleshooting tool. To run this, click Start and type “troubleshooting”. You should see the tool listed first, so select to open. Under System and Security, look for Fix problems with Windows Update, and follow the wizard through to the end.

Is A Problem with .NET Framework Preventing Update Installation?

Another way in which you can overcome problems with Windows Update is to look beyond that particular service. Some Windows Updates require the Microsoft .NET Framework to install – but what if that particular software isn’t working correctly?

windows 7 updates fail

To rule this possibility out, you can take advantage of the .NET Framework Setup Verification Tool to verify the state of your computer’s .NET installation. Head to Aaron Stebner’s MSDN blog to download the tool.

If you should find any faults, the .NET Framework Cleanup Tool can be used to tidy things up, removing the version of .NET (your computer might have multiple installations of the framework) you select. Once this has been done, download the standalone installer from Microsoft.

With this reinstalled, you should then be able to return to Windows Update, hopefully with the result of a successful hotfix/update/service pack installation!

Get Windows Update Working Again!

With the various problems that can occur running Windows Update, you might feel that it’s more trouble than it is worth. The truth is, however, quite the opposite. For a few minutes of troubleshooting you could be saving yourself hours and hours struggling with issues caused by exploits and hardware drivers.

Windows Update is a vital element of what makes Windows 7 work so well, so switch it on, use it, and if you find there are any problems, use these steps to overcome them!

Image Credit: .NET Logo via Lifemaestro

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18 Comments - Write a Comment


Tech Checkers

The link for the Verification Utility is:


Christina thomas

Thanks for the update – the link above isnt working.


Rich Mc.

I usually am able to fix update errors by using Microsoft Fix it solution center. (http://support.microsoft.com/fixit/) It ius a small download and usually fixes the issue right away and if you still have problems you can go to the website I listed here and look for more answers.


Robin in NC

Thank you very much for these tips!!!!!!



So, I decided to check if it was working properly and found – Skype 5.10 for Windows (KB2727727)

WHY is that an ‘update’? It is an application NOT a patch. It is in the Important list, not optional.



I only install 2 or max 3 updates in one go. and restart after every update/install.

twice i have faced problem of bad update, and it was resolved by manually downloading the update file.

another thing is the error message for any failed update is of no use. it never solves any problem. boo to MS.



Funnily enough, I had these .Net update issues on a clients XP machine today, and had stumbled across the verification and cleanup utils.

In that case, the verification tool didn’t help much as it reported everything was ok, but the updates were still failing. The cleanup tool and reinstall did the trick though.


Muhannad Agha

Thank god I’m done with Windows.



I generally find that restarting the computer and installing the updates again will fix any problems. Failing that, downloading the patch or update from the Microsoft site will always work for me.


Ahmed Khalil

So updates when do it the operating system crash and not start unless go to safe mood and restore an old poit before the update. i do not why this


Victor Ong

Well, for one I don’t install updates often because I had a bad experience with them. When I install an update, the next time I turn my computer on I’m scared it crashed because it took so long it show the desktop screen.

Another problem can be that the folder where the updates are installed is compressed. I did it to save space, but you can’t install updates to a compressed folder. Just decompress it and you will be fine.



Everytime i try to update windows 7 service pack 1 , it fails. I will try your ways.thanks


Nikhil Gupta

First : ur windows will be up to date.
second : windows update could turned off.
u can on windows updates.
and update ur windows.


Ed Oates

And all of this nonsense illustrates one of the reason I despise Windoze: for a system marketed at least partially to regular consumers without IT departments at their disposal, and NO phone support by MS, Dell, whomever, making me chase around trying to figure out what subtle thing has failed, then correct it, edit a system file, whatever is just C**P.

I have has ZERO, nada, none ever, problems like with in all my time with Mac OSX. And if there is something I don’t understand, there is a comprehensive discussion group and Apple Support picks up the phone if I call. Like to report bugs (no, they are not bug free, but the difference in trying to resolve one as a consumer is like night and day).

If I wanted to be a techno weenie, I’d buy Linux; Windows, OS/X et al should just work, or at least have a consumer friendly way to resolve issues.


roflcopter “buy linux” u mad linux if free (as in beer) and free (as in speech)



Windows is a gimmick .

They throw C**P against the wall and call it an OS 7 or OS 8 knowing its S**T and that the public will have to figure out the solutions. Once the public has the solution a patch or update is made. What a scam and we all fall for it.

Christian Cawley

“Windows is a gimmick” How so?

I’m not sure you understand the term “gimmick”. However, you also seem to have not recognised that Windows 7 was the one and only time when Microsoft produced an OS that was genuinely better than the competition.

W8 might not be to everyone’s taste; not much has changed with W8.1, but W7 was a marked success, which is why there was such a controversy over the move to the tile interface on W8.



Thank you TY TY, you have saved my sanity. After 48hrs of round and round the windows website chasing down error codes your article pointed me to the .Net fix it which has done the trick

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