Windows Vista Update Stuck on Searching


Staff member
What Are the Symptoms?

There is currently a known issue on Vista SP2 computers where Windows Update can hang on "Checking for updates..." for several hours (or even days) without throwing an error message. This problem was first reported in August 2015 and these slow Windows Updates have become progressively worse over time. Extended support for Vista SP2 and IE9 ended on 11-Apr-2017 but many users have recently discovered that they still have a large backlog of available updates waiting to be installed because Windows Update has not run to completion for several months. Users who perform a clean re-install of their Vista OS will encounter these "Checking for updates..." hangs as soon as Service Pack 2 (SP2) is applied.

When one of these "Checking for updates..." hangs occurs the Windows Update Agent (wuaueng.dll) v7.6.7600.256, running under the Windows Service Host Process svchost.exe, will saturate an entire CPU core (e.g., 100% CPU activity on a single core CPU, 50% CPU activity on a dual core CPU). Affected users might notice a significant decrease in system performance or hear their cooling fan run constantly when their CPU begins to overheat but there is no network bandwidth consumption or rapid disk reads/writes associated with this problem.

Note that MS Office 2010, MS Office 2007 and/or the MS Office Compatibility Pack SP3 (an add-on that allows older MS Office products like MS Office 2000/2003/2007 to work with files with newer Open XML formats like .docx, .xlsx, etc.) can also cause these "Checking for updates..." hangs, even if the Vista SP2 OS is fully patched to 11-Apr-2017.

How Do I Fix These "Checking for updates..." Hangs?

In June 2016, IT expert Dalai began posting a list of "speed up" patches (a small number of security updates for the Win32K.sys kernel mode driver, graphics components, and IE9) that can be manually installed to fix this problem. See his background information <here> that explains why these "Checking for updates..." hangs occur.

Step-by-step instructions for Dalai's solution are posted on page 1 of m#l's thread Updates not working, it has been searching for updates for hours in the MS Answers forum.

Those instructions will guide users through the necessary steps for downloading and installing the recommended "speed-up" patches for Vista SP2 and IE9 [KB3205638 (rel. 13-Dec-2016); KB4012583 (rel. 14-Mar-2017); KB4015195 (rel. 11-Apr-2017); KB4015380 (rel. 11-Apr-2017) plus KB4014661 (rel. 11-Apr-2017) if IE9 is installed]. Optional "speed up" for MS Office 2010, MS Office 2007 and/or the MS Office Compatibility Pack SP3 are discussed in Note 5 of those instructions.

Once all missing "speed up" patches have been pre-installed and Windows Update is able to run to completion and install all available updates then please read the supplemental thread More Shadow Brokers Exploits Patched June 2017 for Win XP and Vista. Five emergency out-of-band security updates were released for Vista SP2 in June 2017 to patch vulnerabilities for the NSA-leaked exploits EnglishmanDentist, EsteemAudit and ExplodingCan. These updates will not be delivered to Vista SP2 machines via Windows Update so standalone .msu installers must be downloaded and installed manually.