The official home of It's Geek to Me on the web!

Issue #798: November 6-12, 2022

Q: Every day when I turn my computer on, Windows says I need to update virus protection under security. But, it never updates. It says failure to update. On the security page it has a green check for everything except Virus & Threat Protection. Is there something wrong with my computer? Should I take the tower in to a computer tech?

– Denise P.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: Hi Denise.  If your city and state are wrong, I apologize. I had to take a wild guess at them because you put your e-mail address in that field.  There was a time when that might have caused your question to be ineligible to be used (incomplete information) but reader questions are at a premium these days, so I’ll allow it.

Usually, when Windows takes the time to tell you that something needs to be updated you should sit up and pay attention, because it doesn’t tell you that lightly.  That just makes it all the more frustrating when you try to do what Windows asks and it fails without giving you a good reason why (and no, I don’t consider “Failed to Update” to be a good reason). I’ve said it before: it’s as if Microsoft thinks everybody sitting at a keyboard has an advanced degree in computer science, along with the skillset and drive to figure out, based on an arcane error message or code what is wrong and how to fix it.  Speaking as someone who actually has that degree, along with the skillset and drive, I can state with authority that is not the case, because even when you have those things system errors can be tough to solve.

By way of background for my readers, let me say that it appears that reader Denise is using Windows’ built-in virus protection tool – Windows Defender.  This tool has really come into its own in recent years, and in many cases where it really matters, it performs as well as, or even better than, many of the 3rd-party virus protection packages out there.  For several of the PCs that I routinely manage, I’ve completely removed things like Norton, McAfee, Avast!, and so forth in favor of Windows Defender.  Now, I’m not recommending that for anyone who is happy with their protection, but I will say that I haven’t had any problems yet (crossing fingers).

It should go without saying that since Defender is an integrated part of Windows, that it gets maintained and updated along with the rest of the operating system.  I can’t really know for certain without a lot of unnecessary research, but it seems logical to me that, as a Windows component, the actual Defender software is updated and maintained by Windows Update. The “Virus & Thread Protection” page of System Settings that Denise mentioned is where the protection is configured and controlled.  This page has its own section for updates, but these are for what Microsoft calls the “Security Intelligence.” This is a combination of special algorithms and digital signatures that help the software detect the presence of malware on the PC. It is supposed to update automatically.  Well, until like Denise is experiencing, the update doesn’t work, and the only thing it tells you is that “it failed.”  Thanks, Bill.

So, Denise, I have a couple of recommendations to make, and if the problem persists after performing these tasks, then you might need to take your PC in for a technician to actually put hands on it to fix things for you.

First, go to Windows Update and do a manual “Check for Updates.”  Make sure all the available updates have downloaded and installed, and that you don’t have an update in here that’s failing to complete (which might be causing your other issue).  Once all your Windows Updates are completed, if the problem persists, you can check the integrity of the operating system files by using the System File Checker (SFC) and the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool.  These are advanced-level tools that typical users don’t even know exist (unless they are regular readers of this column).  They are capable of repairing corrupt or missing operating system files.  I’m about out of space for this issue, but if you’ll visit you’ll find a comprehensive article discussing their use. 

One Response to “Issue #798: November 6-12, 2022”

Leave a Reply

April 2024

Search the site


Copyright Notice

All content on this site is Copyright © 2007-2024 by Jeff Werner – All rights reserved.