Windows states that the service is not running whenever I try to get it working.
How do I troubleshoot this?
I forgot to mention this nice little tool: http://www.tweaking.com/content/page/windows_repair_all_in_one.html. Windows Repair (All-in-One) supposedly repairs Windows Update issues along with other common Windows issues, especially after changes that occur from virus or malware infections. This tool has been recommended by Microsoft Support technicians for similar issues, so I would try and see if it works for you.
Here is the knowledge base for the error you are getting, and there are Fix-it links: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2730071. Some people mention that Windows Defender being turned on and then updated may allow the Windows Update to finally work. http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windows/en-US/ee85d867-ce2f-412f-8c03-f43ab92132cc/windows-update-cannot-currently-check-for-updates-because-the-service-is-not-running-window-7-help?forum=w7itproinstall
How do I reset Windows Update components?