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Saturday, 12 March 2016

Windows Vista Automatic Update Problems

Since fitting the SSD the computer is very quiet, so , one evening,  my attention was drawn to the sound of the fan whirring. An investigation with Windows Task Manager revealed that wuauserv was running. This is the Windows Automatic Update service. It was using 50% (one core) of the CPU. After an hour I got fed up with it and started Windows Update manually to see what was going on. It just sat on "checking for updates" ... And nothing happened for another hour.

So I gave up and disabled auto updates.

Looking on some computer forums, it seems that others have had issues with the wauaserv locking up. But if your auto-updates are broke there is not much chance of downloading an update to fix it.

On one forum I found "Windows Offline Update" was a solution, so I decided to try it for myself. It is not Microsoft, it is Open Source. It allows you to download all the updates for a particular version of Windows, and copy them onto, for example, a USB stick. Then you can install all the latest updates onto a machine which is not connected to the Internet. I was attracted to it because it gives a bit more control over the update process.

So I downloaded it from here:

There is a very good tutorial about it by Eli The Computer Guy..
It is worth watching this before attempting to use the software.

I found there were 2.5 GB even without the Office 2007 updates, so be prepared for a big download. The software worked very well, with a Windows "front end" that has check-boxes to select what you want to download or install. When you have made a selection some sort of script starts in a "command line" style box. Each step of the process appears on the screen and is logged to a file.

Although I had expected the offline updater to use its own software, it actually seems to use Windows own routines for at least some of the work ... including the dreaded Wauaserv! And, when a line appeared on the screen saying something like "building I.D. list of required updates", nothing happened for a very long time ... nearly 2 hours, in fact. If it hadn't been for the additional message which said "this may take a long time, please be patient" I would have aborted the process. The updater found, and applied, 19 updates.

This kind of software would be ideal for a computer repair shop where many computers have to be updated. Also if you have to reinstall windows, it might be useful to have the complete set of updates on a DVD or memory key.

For myself, I need to learn "patience", when wauaserv " locked up" it was probably just halfway through checking what updates were needed. Will we reach a point when our computers can do nothing else but install updates all day long!

I will probably go back to using Windows Update, but do so manually, putting up with the red shield symbol and the nag messages at boot-up. It won't be long before Microsoft stop supporting Vista anyway.

Hugh M0WYE

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