Great solution perhaps to speed up Windows 7 Check for Updates

Here’s a small extract from my previous post, Updating my Windows 7 system to protect against WannaCry/WannaCrypt ransomware, https://ravisiyer.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/updating-my-windows-7-system-to-protect-against-wannacrywannacrypt-ransomware/, dated May 15th 2017 that gives the context for this post.

“One problem I am facing now is that Check for Updates is very slow! It seems to need days to finish! I think I will need to use Hibernate on my system instead of Shutdown till Check for Updates completes successfully and then updates my system. Perhaps the nearly 8 month gap since my last full Windows update is the reason for this unusual amount of time, Check for Updates is taking.”

To try to speed up Windows Check for Updates, I referred to this article, How to speed up Windows 7 Update scans—forever, by Woody Leonhard, Senior Contributing Editor, Infoworld, http://www.infoworld.com/article/3136677/microsoft-windows/how-to-speed-up-windows-7-update-scans-forever.html, dated Nov. 4th 2016.

I tried out the steps outlined in the article (on 16-May-2017) and got great results! Essentially I had to follow step 3 (Install KB 3020369) and then step 2 (Try to install KB 3172605) of the article. I could omit step 1 as I don’t use Intel bluetooth drivers. Then when I tried Check for updates again it got over in around 10 minutes!! What an extraordinary improvement over my previous hours long multiple attempts at Check for updates that did not complete!!

I am very thankful to Woody Leonhard, Senior Contributing Editor, Infoworld [Facebook: @WoodyOnWindows , https://www.facebook.com/WoodyOnWindows ] for these great tips in his article which resolved my Check for updates problem. I have also Facebook-Liked his Facebook page and so am now following him on Facebook.

The Check for updates listed 253 important updates as selected (for download) with a size of around 1,394 MB. I was able to download that over my BSNL Unlimited Broadband landline connection, over around 2 hours or so with a half an hour to one hour electric power supply cut in between during which I had to hibernate my computer system and restore (restart) it from hibernation after the power supply got restored. At around 6:23 PM (on 16-May-2017) the Windows update process had finished the updates download and was creating a restore point.

The installation of updates went from around 6:24 PM to 11:42 PM (slightly over 5 hours) with 240 updates succeeding and 13 updates failing. Restart of system was needed during which the system took some time both during shutdown and at restart, to configure the Windows updates. Around 11:54 PM the system had completed the configuration and restarted Windows 7 with the new configuration. At last, my system had got updated with the latest updates from Microsoft (excluding a few update failures which I plan to look into), with the Windows Control Panel Windows Update status showing that Updates were installed “Today at 11:41 PM” (Today being 16-May-2017).

For the future, I plan to keep Windows Update setting on “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them”. I plan to do the updates manually like I did today perhaps once every month, and whenever there is a report of a major vulnerability in Windows and a patch from Microsoft is available to fix that vulnerability. I think such a manual update process allows me to know more of what is happening during the update and also have some small level of control over the update process. It also means that I need to keep aside time every month or so for doing a manual update and observing the process. I think I am willing to invest in that time. Note that I am able to multi-task the manual update work with other tasks including some Internet browsing (the speed is slow perhaps due to demand on both processor(s) and Internet connection). However, I try to keep such additional load on the PC to a minimum while the Windows Update process is going on.

I came across an article by the same author, Woody Leonhard, 10 reasons you shouldn’t upgrade to Windows 10, http://www.infoworld.com/article/2972298/microsoft-windows/10-reasons-you-shouldnt-upgrade-to-windows-10.html, dated Aug. 1, 2016. Essentially it states that for people who don’t need the new features of Windows 10, the annoyances of Windows 10, makes staying on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 a better option. So I have decided to stay on Windows 7 (and Windows 8.1 on my alt computer, a Dell Mini Laptop) but ensure that it is updated with patches from Microsoft, around once a month.

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Given below is a detailed log of what I tried out on 16-May-2017 from the afternoon spilling on to early hours of 17-May-2017. Readers who do not want to know the details may skip reading the rest of this post.

  • Step 1 deals with Intel Bluetooth driver. As I don’t use Bluetooth on my Windows 7 PC I could skip step 1. Note that the article states that the key KB 3172605 patch installation (step 2) suffers from an Intel Bluetooth related drawback: “It crashes a very common set of Intel Bluetooth drivers.”
  • Followed step 3 (Install KB 3020369) and then step 2 (Try to install KB 3172605) of the article. First attempt at step 2 right away failed. Then did step 3 which succeeded followed by step 2, which succeeded this time around.
  • Now I have initiated Check for Updates again. Let me see if it does it faster now. …….
  • It got over in perhaps less than 10 minutes, showing a message 253 important updates selected, 1,394.3 MB – 1,394.5 MB. What an extraordinary improvement!!! The most recent check for updates timestamp has now been changed to “Today at 3:38 PM”, whereas my previous hours long attempts of Check for Updates, over the past few days, did not result in any change of that timestamp (which earlier was mid Sept 2016). But it did line up a few updates (around 10, most of which were Microsoft Office updates, if I recall correctly) which got installed at shutdown time.
  • Have initiated download of updates. Current message is “Downloading 253 updates (1,394.5 MB total, 6% complete).
  • I don’t know whether there are any problems other than the Intel Bluetooth drivers problem mentioned earlier, associated with this method to speed up Windows 7 Check for Updates. I presume it is safe as it involves installing two KB patches of Microsoft itself. If I face any unusual Windows update or other Windows OS problems in the near future, I plan to report them on this page.
  • Lost electric power for perhaps half an hour to an hour. As my PC UPS can be relied on to deliver power during electric power supply cut, for ten minutes or so, I hibernated my PC with the Downloading updates progress message box showing around 50% complete. On restoring PC from hibernation after power supply got restored, the Windows Update picked up from where it had left off. At 5:29 PM it shows 65% complete status.
  • 6:21 PM – Windows Update shows the message: Preparing to install [Ravi: That implies 100% of download of updates is complete!]
  • At or before 6:23 PM a message was shown that it was creating a restore point.
  • 6:24 PM – Installing update 1 of 243
  • 7:34 PM – Installing update 101 of 243
  • 10:45 PM – Installing update 206 of 243
  • Around 11:42 the installing update process gave message box prompt to Restart with a tally of 240 updates succeeded and 13 updates failed.
  • 11:54 PM: The system configured the updates taking some time prior to shutdown and lesser time after startup. Now Windows Update shows that Updates were installed “Today at 11:41 PM”.
  • As some updates (13) had been listed as failed, I decided to Check for updates again around 11:58 PM.
  • Around/slightly before 12:15 AM (17-May-2017) the Check for updates finished listing 16 important updates selected, 97.9 MB [It also stated 18 important updates are available and 47 optional updates are available.]
  • 12:16 AM: I chose install updates (or something like that). The Downloading updates progress window came up showing message “Downloading 16 updates (0 KB total, 0% complete). Also the Most recent check for updates now shows “Today at 12:13 AM”.
  • 12:18 AM: Now the message shows “Downloading 16 updates (97.9 MB total, 69% complete)
  • 12:19 AM: It shows Preparing to install (so 100% of updates were downloaded). Creating a restore point.
  • 12:20 AM: Installing update 5 of 16
  • 12:25 AM: Installing update 14 of 16
  • 12:28 AM: Prompt for Restart with status: Succeeded: 14 updates, Failed: 2 updates. Error(s) found: Code 643 Windows Update encountered an unknown error …
  • 12:29 AM: Clicked on Restart.
  • 12:31 AM: The configuration update during shutdown and restart was fast. Windows Update status shows that Updates were installed: Today at 12:28 AM.
  • I don’t want to try Check for updates again to try to fix the 2 failed updates now. I plan to do it today (17-May-2017) afternoon.
  • Went through the update history. Interestingly it showed the two failed updates for the latest update (17-May-17) They deal with:
    a) Update for Microsoft XML Core Services 4.0 Service Pack 2 for x64-based Systems (KB973688)
    b) Security Update for Microsoft XML Core Services 4.0 Service Pack 2 for x64-based Systems (KB954430)
  • There are similar details for failures in earlier update done on 16-May-17.
  • I think I should Google for what one should do for such failures in Windows Update.
  • 12:41 AM: Changed Windows Update setting to “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them”. That takes away the red flag from Taskbar status.
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