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Troubleshooting Windows Update problems

Updated November 3, 2022

When it comes to repairing Windows computers, there are a couple of problems that I get a lot of help requests. One of them is when a computer cannot get updates to Windows. So here are a few of my favorite resources for fixing Windows Update.

Troubleshooting Windows Update problems

There are several reasons why Windows Update can fail. There could be corrupted files or folders; the different services that Windows Update requires are not starting, registry errors, etc. The following is a list of some procedures I use to repair Windows Update.

Remember to always restart your computer after running any of these procedures before trying Windows Update again.

Windows Update Troubleshooter

Windows 10 and Windows 11 have several troubleshooters built-in, including one for Windows Update. All of the Troubleshooters are located in Windows Settings. There are a few different ways to get to Windows Settings.

How to access the Windows Update troubleshooter in Windows 11

You can find all of the troubleshooters for Windows 11 in the Settings app. To get to the Settings app, do one of the following:

  • Left-click on the Start Windows logo menu and left-click on Settings (the gear icon)
  • Right-click on the Start Windows logo menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo + X and select Settings from the Power User menu
  • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo + I

The Settings app should open with System highlighted in the left-hand column. In the right-hand column, select Troubleshoot, Other troubleshooters, then left-click on the Run button on the right-hand side of Windows Update.

How to access the Windows Update troubleshooter in Windows 10

You can find all of the troubleshooters for Windows 10 in the Settings app. To get to the Settings app, do one of the following:

  • Left-click on the Start Windows logo menu and left-click on Settings (the gear icon)
  • Right-click on the Start Windows logo menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo + X and select Settings from the Power User menu
  • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo + I

Once you open Windows Settings, select Update and Security, then Troubleshoot in the left-hand column. In the right-hand column, select Additional troubleshooters, then select Windows Update in the right-hand column.

So if the Windows Update Troubleshooter (repair) did not fix the issue, you could attempt to reset the components that Windows Update uses. The following link gives complete instructions on how to manually reset the Windows Update components, plus some additional resources.

Reset Windows Update components

There is another way to reset the Windows Update components. The Reset Windows Update Tool is s script-based application that performs the same functions as the script above. Along with resetting Windows Update components, it can run Secure File Checker (see below), repair invalid registry keys, and repair the Windows system image using DISM (see below).

Reset Windows Update Tool

Check your drive for errors

If you have run the Windows Update troubleshooters (repair/reset) and Windows Update is still not functioning correctly, it's time to do some general system checks. Sometimes there can be an error(s) with the file system that does not allow the troubleshooters to fix the issue(s). I have had this problem many times before. Nothing worse than feeling like a dog chasing his tail. At this point, check your drive for errors by running checkdisk.

Check your drive for errors in Windows 11

Check your drive for errors in Windows 10

Check your drive for errors in Windows 8

Check your drive for errors in Windows 7 and Windows Vista

Once you are done with a checkdisk, go ahead and rerun the Windows Update troubleshooter. First, run the repair troubleshooter and try checking for updates. If it doesn't fix it, run the reset troubleshooter. If Windows Update still won't work, then it is time to check to system files.

Check system files

SFC

Windows has a built-in program called System File Checker (SFC) to check system files for corruption and incorrect versions. SFC is run inside of an administrative command prompt. Just follow the link below for your version Windows for instructions on how to bring up an admin command prompt.

Open an Administrative Command Prompt in Windows 11

Open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 10

Open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 8

Open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows Vista and Windows 7

SFC is the same in all of the currently supported versions of Windows. Here is the link to the most detailed instructions for SFC (Windows 10, Windows 11).

Check Windows 11 system files with System File Checker

Check Windows 10 system files with System File Checker

Once you are done running SFC and have corrected any problems it may have found, try running Windows Update. If it still doesn't work, try running the troubleshooters (repair/reset) one at a time, running Windows Update in between. If you again cannot run Windows Update successfully, it may be time to run the most advanced system corruption repair tools.

DISM (Windows 8/8.1, Windows 10, Windows 11) / SUR (Windows Vista, Windows 7)

Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) and System Update Readiness tool (SUR) are the complete way of checking for file corruption in Windows. The link to the instructions on how to run both is below. DISM and SUR are meant to be used by advanced users, so if you don't feel comfortable running either one of these programs, please contact a local computer repair shop like Geeks in Phoenix for assistance.

Fix Windows Update errors by using the DISM or System Update Readiness tool

After running either DISM or SUR, check again to see if Windows Update will work. If Windows Update still does not work, it may be time to perform a repair upgrade to Windows 10 / Windows 11.

How to perform a repair upgrade of Windows 11

How to perform a repair upgrade or Windows 10

How to speed up the boot time of your computer

Updated January 3, 2023

Does it seem like your computer takes forever to boot up? Waiting for your Windows-based computer to boot can be quite frustrating. But there are a few things you can do. Here is how to speed up the boot time of your computer.

How to speed up the boot time of your computer

Check the drive for errors

If your computer has a Hard Disk Drive (HDD), this is the first thing you want to do. HDD's are notorious for not writing data back to the exact place where the data was read. Little known fact, but Microsoft didn't invent the Disk Operating System (DOS). It bought Quick and Dirty Operating System (QDOS) in the early '80s and renamed it MS-DOS. If you have a Solid State Drive (SSD), you can bypass this step, as SSD's don't have moving parts.

Check for hardware issues first with the software provided by the manufacturer of your HDD. The Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD) has all of the significant drive manufacturer's diagnostics software built-in, so this is always the right place to start.

Diagnose computer hardware issues with the Ultimate Boot CD

Then check for software issues with Windows built-in CHKDSK.

Check your hard disk for errors in Windows Vista / Windows 7

Check your hard drive for errors in Windows 8

Check your hard drive for errors in Windows 10

How to check your drive for errors in Windows 11

Uninstall any unwanted programs

This one is a no-brainer. Allot of adware/junkware will load itself up at boot, causing an increase in boot time. It also takes away resources that could be used by programs you want to run. The first thing to do is to go to the Control Panel > Programs > Programs and Features. Then go through the list of programs to see which ones can be uninstalled. Remember that you can change the way the programs are listed just by clicking on the column name. I like to know when a program was installed because you can find many unwanted clutter installations that way.

Remove unwanted items from startup

MSCONFIG inside of Windows 11
MSCONFIG inside of Windows 11

You can temporarily disable programs and services that start up with Windows using MSCONFIG. MSCONFIG is a diagnostic tool built into Windows that allows you to troubleshoot boot issues. You can enable and disable various boot settings, including programs and services that startup with Windows. Just open an Administrator Command Prompt and type MSCONFIG.

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows Vista and Windows 7

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 8

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 10

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 11

Once you have your system fine-tuned with MSCONFIG, you could leave your system running in diagnostic mode by having MSCONFIG not displayed at startup. That's one of the first things I check for on systems I work on. It just too easy to let it go. But if you want to permanently remove the items you have disabled in MSCONFIG, here's how to do it.

The Autoruns Everything tab inside of Windows 11
The Everything tab inside of Autoruns

  1. Download and extract the latest version of Autoruns from Microsoft.
  2. Open MSCONFIG and make a note of each item you have disabled.
  3. On the General tab of MSCONFIG, select Normal startup, then left-click Apply and OK. When prompted, close MSCONFIG and do not restart the computer. Yes, this will enable all of the items you have disabled, but we will delete them next.
  4. Open the folder where you saved Autoruns.exe, right-click on it and select Run as Administrator.
  5. Once it is done scanning, you need to find the items you had disabled with MSCONFIG. Check the Services and the Logon tabs first. Remember that you can check the logon items for each user with the User pull-down menu. Once you find your things, you can 1) disable it with the checkbox on the left or 2) you can right-click on it and select Delete.

Clean up the drive

It's time to clean up some of the clutter that seems to pile up. Using Windows built-in Disk Cleanup tool (cleanmgr.exe) will quickly clean out all sorts of crap, like user temp files and temporary Internet files. If you want to go a little further with cleaning your drive, download a copy of CCleaner.

Free up more disk space with Windows Vista / Windows 7 Disk Cleanup

Clean up your hard drive in Windows 8 with Disk Cleanup

Clean up Windows 10 with Disk Cleanup

Clean up your Windows 10 computer using the Storage feature

Clean up Windows 11 with Storage Sense and Disk Cleanup

Clean up and optimize your computer for free with CCleaner

Defragment your HDD

This is another step that only pertains to HDD's since SSD's don't get fragmented. If your HDD is fragmented, it takes it longer to find and load files. Optimizing the HDD structure will always give you a little more speed. You can use Windows built-in Optimize and Defragment drive tool or another disk utility like Defraggler from Piriform.

Geek Tip: If you use run the Disk Defragmenter from an Admin Command Prompt, you can use the /B switch to optimize the boot performance. For example, if you want to optimize booting on the C: drive, you would use the following:

Defrag C: /B

Using Disk Defragmenter in Windows Vista

Using Disk Defragmenter in Windows 7

Defragment and Optimize your hard drive in Windows 8

How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 10

How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 11

Perform advanced disk defragmentation with Defraggler from Piriform

If you want to go the extra mile with optimizing your HDD, remove the swap file before you defrag and restore it after you're done. And when you restore it, go ahead and use the following calculations.

The minimum pagefile size is one and a half (1.5) x the amount of memory. The maximum pagefile size is three (3) x the minimum pagefile size. Let's say you have 2 Gb (2,048 Mb) of memory. The minimum pagefile size would be 1.5 x 2,048 = 3,072 Mb and the maximum pagefile size would be 3 x 3,072 = 9,216 Mb.

Create great graphics with Paint.NET 4.0

Updated September 22, 2020

One of the things I like to do besides repairing computers is creating graphics. Over the years, I have used many different image editing programs, including Photoshop and CorelDraw. But for free graphics programs, you just cannot beat Paint.NET.

Lately, I have been back through some of my older articles and updating the content. Even though I wrote this article a few years ago, Paint.NET is still one of my favorite graphics programs. And it just keeps getting better all of the time.

The user interface inside of Paint.NET 4
The user interface inside of Paint.NET 4

Paint.NET was initially created to replace the Paint program included in Windows but has evolved in to so much more since then. It includes such features as layers, effects, transparency, blending, and best of all, plugins.

With hundreds of plugins available, you can expand on the out-of-the-box graphic capabilities of Paint.NET. Since I have a digital camera that will take photos in RAW format, I found a plugin that opens that type of file. I also use Photoshop and have found a plugin to open those files too.

Paint.NET uses an asynchronous, fully multithreaded rendering engine and supports hardware acceleration via the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). Selections are anti-aliased, and selected outlines rendered with 'dancing ants' animation, significantly improving the contrast between the sample and image. And the user interface is clean and straightforward to use.

The Settings dialog box inside of Paint.NET 4
The Settings dialog box inside of Paint.NET 4

There are now two (2) versions of the Paint.NET program. The original Windows desktop version and the UWP (Universal Windows Platform). The Windows desktop version is available for download for free from the dotPDN website. The UWP version is available for purchase from the Microsoft Store.

Paint.NET system requirements

  • Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 7 SP1 with platform update
  • .NET Framework 4.7.2
  • 1 GHz processor (dual-core recommended)
  • 1 GB of RAM

For more information on Paint.NET, follow the links below:

Get Paint 4
What's new in Paint.NET

Creating stunning documents, spreadsheets and slide-shows with OpenOffice 4

With the cost of Microsoft Office going up, not to mention the subscription / non-subscription thing, it's nice to know there are alternatives out there. One of the best office alternatives has to be OpenOffice. And it just so happens that the Apache Software Foundation recently released a new version of their free productivity software, OpenOffice 4.

The main screen inside of OpenOffice 4
The main screen inside of OpenOffice 4

For those who are not familiar with it, OpenOffice is a suite of office productivity programs that rivals Microsoft Office. It has everything you could need for creating great-looking documents, spreadsheets, and slideshow presentations. Here's a complete list of all of the programs included in OpenOffice 4.

Program Equivalent to Program type
Writer Microsoft Word Word processor
Calc Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet
Impress Microsoft PowerPoint Multi-media slideshow presentation
Draw Microsoft Paint Graphic design
Base Microsoft Access Database
Math Design Science Mathtype Formula creation

OpenOffice 4 has some significant improvements over previous versions. A new Sidebar contains the most commonly used functions for that program, which can be docked, floating, or completely hidden. There is also much improved compatibly with Microsoft Office documents. The drawing, graphics, and gallery functions have also been enhanced, along with the copy & paste and drag & drop functionality.

The new Sidebar inside of OpenOffice 4 shown docked and floating
The new Sidebar inside of OpenOffice 4 shown docked and floating

OpenOffice does use Java, but it's not required for installation, as it can be added later on. Compatibility with other document formats is pretty impressive, but Star Office is no longer supported. OpenOffice can automatically load/convert and convert/save Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) and Design Science Mathtype documents. The only file types that it cannot save to is the Microsoft Office 2007 - 2019 .???x formats.

And since OpenOffice is open-source, there are hundreds of third-party extensions to expand on the functionality of the applications. Add in a copy of GIMP or Paint.NET, and you have a complete and free desktop publishing package.

OpenOffice 4 is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems. For more information on OpenOffice 4, just follow the links below:

Apache OpenOffice Open Source Project

Download OpenOffice 4

Clean up and optimize your computer for free with CCleaner

Do you want to clean up and optimize your computer but don't know where to start? Maybe you want to clean out all of the temporary Internet files for security purposes. Or clean up all of the temporary files from other applications to free up some space on your hard drive. You can do all of this and more for free with CCleaner.

The Cleaner tab inside of CCleaner
The Cleaner tab inside of CCleaner

CCleaner from Piriform is a complete system optimization tool for Windows. It cleans out temporary Internet files from most browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) and cleans out various Windows files (recent documents, temporary files, search autocomplete, etc.). It can also repair multiple areas of the registry.

The Registry tab inside of CCleaner
The Registry tab inside of CCleaner

CCleaner can also rename, delete, or uninstall programs listed in the 'Uninstall a program' or 'Add/Remove Programs' section in the Control Panel. It can even manage the system restore points. Here's a quote from Piriform's website:

CCleaner is our system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it's fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware! Cleans the following:

Internet Explorer
Temporary files, history, cookies, super cookies, Autocomplete form history, index.dat files.

Firefox
Temporary files, history, cookies, super cookies, download history, form history.

Google Chrome
Temporary files, history, cookies, super cookies, download history, form history.

Opera
Temporary files, history, cookies, super cookies, download history.

Safari
Temporary files, history, cookies, super cookies, form history.

Other Supported Browsers
K-Meleon, Rockmelt, Flock, Google Chrome Canary, Chromium, SeaMonkey, Chrome Plus, SRWare Iron, Pale Moon, Phoenix, Netscape Navigator, Avant and Maxthon.

Windows
Recycle Bin, Recent Documents, Temporary files, Log files, Clipboard, DNS Cache, Error Reporting, Memory Dumps, Jump Lists.

Registry Cleaner
Advanced features to remove unused and old entries, including File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, Fonts, Help Files, Application Paths, Icons, Invalid Shortcuts and more...

Third-party applications
Removes temp files and recent file lists (MRUs) from many apps including Windows Media Player, eMule, Google Toolbar, Microsoft Office, Nero, Adobe Acrobat, WinRAR, WinAce, WinZip and many more...

100% Spyware FREE
This software does NOT contain any Spyware, Adware or Viruses.

CCleaner is available in three editions: Free (no support), Professional (priority support), and Business (premium support). For more information on CCleaner, follow the links below:

CCleaner - Optimization and Cleaning

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Repairing a PC can sometimes be expensive, and that is why we offer free basic in-shop diagnostics. Give one of our professional and experienced technicians a call at (602) 795-1111, and let's see what we can do for you.

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If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at (602) 795-1111  and talk with one of our Geeks. Or you can send us a message from our contact page contact page , and one of our Geeks will get back to you as soon as possible. Or you can stop by and see us. Here are our hours and location.

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