How can I fix Windows Update if the troubleshooter won’t run?

Karen S. May 1, 2015
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Karen asks:

My desktop PC hasn’t accepted automatic windows updates for 2 months, the troubleshooter feature doesn’t work, and the computer is slow.

I tried system restore and all it did was make PC faster for 3 days but it is now slow again. I followed the system restore directions from this site. I also followed the registry fix directions but it said it couldn’t merge all the files or something to that effect so I didn’t try again. Too much anxiety.

I get a advertisement, at least I thought it was because when I went there, it wanted me to pay over $100 for software.  The message said I wan’t running original Windows software.

Bruce Epper’s Reply:

Make sure your antivirus database is up-to-date, then run a full scan of your system removing all of the crap it finds.

If you don’t have it already, install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware on your system. On the first run, it will update its database automatically. Run a full scan of your system. This could take a bit of time. Remove anything it finds. Note: It will identify most toolbars as well as installers that use OpenCandy as PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs). It is okay to have it remove the toolbars unless you actively use them, but you may need to hang on to those installers for later.

If either of these tools removed malware or other cruft from your system, it is likely that anything stored in the System Recovery folders will also have this junk in it. The best solution is to get rid of them and create another Restore Point.

Assuming you are running Windows 7, click on the Start orb, then right-click on Computer. Select Properties from the context menu. On the bottom portion of this dialog, it will tell you your Product ID, if Windows is activated and whether it is Genuine. As long as this shows up as activated and genuine, you can ignore anything to the contrary that you see on your machine, especially if it is showing up in a web browser or pop-up.


Click on the link for System Protection.


Select your C: drive and click on Configure…


Click the Delete button. Click on Continue to confirm the deletion and let it do its thing.


Back on the System Protection tab of the System Properties, click on Create… Give it a brief description and click on Create.


While we are at it, let’s get rid of any other potential problems. Open Windows Explorer and right-click on the C: drive. Select Properties from the context menu.


Click on the Disk Cleanup button.


It will take a bit to complete, but when it does, make sure the Temporary Internet Files and Temporary files entries are selected and click on OK. Note: Those entries don’t show up in the screenshot since I have them redirected to a RAM disk instead of residing on my C: drive. Also note that clicking the Clean up system files button will initiate another scan of the computer looking for backups of system files that are created when service packs, hotfixes and patches are applied to the system and return you to the same summary screen (minus the Clean up system files button) with additional categories of files to delete added to the list.

Once the crap is gone and you aren’t giving it an easy way to come back, try running the Windows Update troubleshooter again. This should fix any issues malware could have created by unregistering or deleting DLL files required for Windows Update to work, re-enabling required services, and other common fixes. After running the troubleshooter, try running Windows Update again.

If any malware was removed in the early stages of this process, you should no longer completely trust your system. As soon as possible, you should make a complete backup of all of your data files and a list of all of your installed software. Get current copies of all of the drivers for your system and installers for the software you own. Then bite the bullet and do a complete wipe of your hard drive and reinstall your entire system (aka nuke and pave), then restore your data files.

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