Fixing “Windows Update cannot currently check for updates, because the service is not running”
I bumped today into the following message in a Windows 7 computer: “Windows Update cannot currently check for updates, because the service is not running”. After some web searching I found a simple way to fix this. According to Paul Woods the culprit is a corruption in the following file …
if you rename or delete that file (as your solution ultimately does) then reboot the pc, auto updates will resume.
This file keeps track of the update history and status and if the status cannot be determined then updates won’t run. If the file does not exist (deleted or renamed) it is recreated and it is assumed that updates have never been run.
Paul was in turn inspired by Michal’s Notes and posted his findings in the comments section.
Update Sept. 25, 2012: See comments below for extra details.
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Thanks! That was exactly the fix!
I’m glad to hear it worked!
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I have this problem….that file is not there..and yes I removed hide folders and show hidden…
You can try too the more general solution in Michael’s Notes with my variation in 2) for renaming instead of deleting the folder:
1) go to services and stop Windows update service
2) locate C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\ folder and rename it (e.g. rename it to SoftwaredDistribution.old)
3) start Windows update service
4) check for updates
If you are comfortable using commands then the equivalent to the above is:
(taken from a Jeff Loucks’ answer in a MS forum)
type cmd and press enter
type net stop wuauserv and press enter
2) type rename c:\windows\SoftwareDistribution softwaredistribution.old and press enter
3) type net start wuauserv and press enter
type exit and press enter
4) check for updates in the usual way
Verify that the new software distribution folder created when you restart the update service is approxiamtely 1.5 MB in size (standard files). Restart the computer and del the folder if you have no issues.
Wow Thank you this problem was driving me crazy!! Worked great!!!
This worked for me!! Thanks!!
OMG Thank you so much for the simple solution that you suggested, because it actually worked. You literally saved my life. I spent too many hours plowing through Microsoft Support website and none of their posted solutions would work. The numerous tools provided by Microsoft that you have to download to fix “Windows Update” problem did absolutely nothing to fix the problem. Microsoft is a terrible company and its retarded, unreliable tech support just proves it.
Thanks Joseph.. simple but effective solution. it worked.
thanks Joseph Luis renaming worked
You are welcome!
I deleted the file,and still got the problem. I did the cmd net stop wuarsev thing and it didn’t work. Whenever I try to update it keeps saying “Windows Update cannot currently check for updates, because the service is not running”. I also tried resetting my windows update settings like another site said, and it didn’t work. Any suggestions?
So you deleted the whole folder C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\ … Mmmh let’s see… just to be sure, did you type net stop wuarsev (instead of wuauserv) as written in your comment?
Thank you Joseph Luis! I just went through about an hour of trying to fix this problem, and your solution fixed it in a few seconds. YAY!
Great! Good it worked for you.
Thanks for the help. Renaming the folder worked like a charm. It did take me forever to download all the updates but it was forth it. Thanks again.
You are welcome! By the way, after some time, once that you have confirmed that the updates are back on track, you can delete the old, renamed folder.
Hey ! I located the file and renamed it SoftwareDistribution.old but even after doing that i went to the windows update service and it still doesnt let me can you please help!!
oh and when i go to cmd and type what you said ( i made sure not to make any mistake) it says this:
the service name is invalid
more help is available by typing net helpmsg
Hi! Just to double check, are you running cmd as an Administrator? To do this, after you type cmd, instead of pressing Enter, press Ctrl + Shift + Enter as detailed in this link.
Hey! Yes i tried earlier as the administrator but the same thing happen :/
Ok, let’s re-trace the problem and the solution …
A) We have Windows 7 and are running as Administrator
B) In Start>Run Services we stopped the Windows Update service OR used net stop wuauserv on the cmd line
C) We deleted or renamed the file c:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Datastore\logs\edb.log (which, if corrupted, seems to be the source of the problem) OR/AND deleted or renamed the folder C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\
D) In Start>Run Services we started the windows Update service OR used net stop wuauserv on the cmd line
The next step will be to check for updates as usual or even reboot the computer, but here is where we have a problem, right? If following the previous steps stops here, it seems to me that someone will have to look directly on you computer to bring a fresher perspective into the problem. Sorry I was not able to help more up to here. Perhaps one of our readers will have a suggestion…
It’s ok thanks for trying to help!
You are welcome and hope you eventually find a solution. If you do and you don’t mind, it would be great if you share it here. Cheers!
i think i have the same problem as Marine.
i’ve done all the steps you listed down, but the error message still appear.
Unfortunately, up to that point it seems that someone would have to look directly on you computer to bring a fresher perspective into the problem.
I could never get it to work properly.. I tried but i couldnt find a fix so I ended up backing up my files and restored the computer to default settings
Great !!! This procedure is okay. Many Thanks for the help.
this fixed my issue right from microsoft website within a minute. works perfectly
Brilliant! after much searching on Google and Windows Fixit Tool telling me I had fixed it when I hadn’t, I found this page, 2 minutes later and updates are running as we speak.
Thank you so very much from Scotland.
Many thanks, I have the exact situation.
You solved my problem
This one worked for me. Thank you sir.
Quality! After going through all other suggestions I could find without success, this one fixed it in under a minute. Thank you. 🙂
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Thank you so much mate, i just deleted the Datastore folder then i restarted my computer, went on to check for windows updates….and it worked!
Thanks, it worked like a miracle…
Thanks! Worked fine!
thank you for sharing these useful tips,,,i did try it the First
time and it worked for me thanks a lot….
I have windows 64-bit and I still have not been able to fix the problem. I don’t know when it stopped working but nothing so far. If anyone else has any ideas please let me know.
Thank you worked perfectly, much appreciated.