Have you ever felt very angry at your computer for its various software problems? I think that we all have to an extent. There are times I’m sure we’ve felt like the person below.
By far one of the most problem prone pieces of Windows must be its update function. Computerworld once called it the Shame of Windows Update. It is a software that I’m sure we’ve all had problems with in the past.
Ever notice that you often have to reboot your computer on Windows after installing updates? You do not have to do so in most cases in Linux, and in some distros not even if the Kernel has been updated. Windows cannot replace DLLs while the system is running because critical systems of Windows rely on those DLLs, which are getting updated by Windows Update. Sometimes, multiple restarts are needed to get all of the updates installed.
There are other flaws. Windows Update does tend to use a lot of disk space (which can be a problem for people with small drives or Solid State Drives), and uses a lot of bandwidth (very problematic for people with metered Internet connections).
Anyways, I have found that a frequent solution is to simply wipe out the cache file. Basically if the Windows update function is stuck or is taking forever, give this a shot. To do that, open up a text editor like Notepad, and copy the following in:
net stop wuauserv CD %Windir% CD SoftwareDistribution DEL /F /S /Q Download net start wuauserv
Then save it as something like “Delete_cache”. Now once the file is saved, you are going to change the file extension from .txt to .bat (right click and go to the properties if you don’t have file extensions enabled, then change the last 3 letters in the top text box from “.txt” to “.bat”). Click it and run.
Alternatively, if you want the file, I’ve zipped it up:
Regardless of whether you created this or downloaded my file, you may have to run this file twice, first to close Windows Update and second to actually delete the files (yes Windows is buggy in that regards). Be sure to run this file as Administrator or this will not work and also, add this as an exception to your Firewall, as sometimes it will read as a false positive. Likewise, if you have made a .bat file yourself, this could also be flagged as a false positive.
After the file has run twice (you will see a huge list of files in the cache that were deleted), restart the computer and try Windows Update again.
Another consideration is that in regards to my comments on Windows Update taking a lot of disk space, this can also be used to clean up disk space if necessary.
I’m unhappy that I even had to write this guide. This is one of those cases where, I feel like this is something that I should not have to have had to write. Software as widely used as Windows Update should not be giving so many people difficulties. I’m sure Microsoft has some very talented developers, but so far Windows Update has been giving the world problems for years now. I think that fixing all of the bugs should be a huge priority for Microsoft. It is even more frustrating when one considers that Linux seems to do a far better job of updates.
However, seeing the sheer number of people around me with problems with Windows Update I see little alternative. It is one of the most problematic pieces of software on Windows and alarmingly, plays a critical function.
I personally have moved a good portion of my day to day computer use into Linux, where the update function, although far from perfect, is a lot better. However, a complete migration is not possible because I have quite a few applications that need Windows.