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Issue #547: January 14-20, 2018

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Q: My Windows update has stopped working. I have it setup to automatically notify me when there are updates; however, I have the settings so that I can install when convenient for me. When I tried to run updates, I receive the message “Windows Update cannot currently check for updates, because the service is not running. You may need to restart your computer.” I checked and the service is set to start up upon booting and is running per the Windows task manager. I also checked to ensure any dependent services are also running. I have rebooted several times to no avail. I searched the internet for a potential solution and ran across the identical problem by someone else. They resolved it by updating their RST driver. I reviewed this on the site, but have no idea how to tell which one is appropriate (it gave me a choice of 3 different ones for my OS). I had made some cookie changes in Chrome recently to disallow 3rd party cookies from automatically being added and cleaned out my cookies. Could that have caused my problem? I do have a Seagate backup drive I can restore my system from. I’m wondering if I should go that route. I may have also tweaked my services slightly because my PC was running slow and a performance tool indicated I had too many services starting. I had changed a few to delayed startup, a couple to manual, but did not change any to stop. Unfortunately, I didn’t make a list of the changes. When I try to view Windows update history, there is none. I religiously run the updates every time I’m notified which is at least once a month. Pulling hair out at this point.

– Cindy J.
Miramar Beach, Florida

A: I have to say, Cindy, you seem to have done some fairly advanced-level diagnostic work in your attempts to fix your problem.  Not just any user has the knowledge – and is comfortable enough – to jump in and start playing with System Services.  You’re obviously no beginner at this.  You asked a couple of specific questions for which think I have answers.  I also have a couple comments for you, and a possible solution.

First of all, I don’t think your setting for 3rd-party cookies has anything to do with the problem.  By definition, 3rd-party cookies are ones that are placed on your computer by a website other than the one you’re visiting.  This can be considered a security risk, because it is an action being taken without your knowledge, and of which you may not approve.  An example would be a page that has an external link to an image, or an ad server, and that 3rd-party server feeds up a cookie and attempts to store it locally.  There are some reasons why it may be desirable, but there are far more reasons to block it.  Regardless, I don’t see where this would interfere with Windows Updates.

The services for which you changed the startup type to “Manual” could be an issue.  Although you said you didn’t stop them at the time, you did say you rebooted several times.  If you’ve set them to be manually started, that is exactly what you must do.  I suggest you change them back to what they were, if you can figure out what that was.

I looked at the Intel website for your Rapid Storage Technology (RST) driver.  I only found one “latest” version that would be applicable for you.  You can find it at TinyURL.com/IGTM-0547.  That site has a driver as new as mid-November of 2017.

Finally, my research uncovered what I think is the actual source of your problem.  Specifically, corruption of the folder that Windows uses to store temporary files used by Windows Update.  This folder is located at C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution.  My suggestion is to stop the Windows Update Service, rename the directory to \SoftwareDistribution.old, then restart the Windows Update Service, and go attempt to perform an update.  This should clear the cobwebs out of WU’s brain, and allow whatever logjam was present to flow freely.

One final comment about setting up your PC to notify you, rather than have updates automatically installed:  If your goal is simply to not be inconvenienced by the updates, it’s easy enough to tweak Windows Update to make sure it does its thing in the wee hours when you’re not using your computer.  There’s really no reason to have to receive a notification, then do a bunch of manual work, when your system could automatically update at night and be ready for you the next day.

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