I think Windows Update has screwed me

Okay, I probably screwed myself and will pay dearly. Here’s what’s going on.

Laptop running Windows 7 Ultimate. This morning I rebooted the machine, and it started applying 16 updates. It spent a good 45 minutes on Update 14. Thinking it was hung up or something, I made the first of two potentially fatal mistakes. I forced the machine to shut down.

When the machine rebooted, it then started applying the updates and did so. Then it started “configuring updates” and got hung up at 35%. That’s when I made my second probable mistake by shutting down the machine again, after about a half hour.

New reboot, and the laptop is trying to revert because the updates didn’t apply correctly. It’s been doing that for about 45 minutes. I’m not touching it (I’m posting this from an old laptop I pulled out of a closet).

What say you, much-smarter-than-I hivemind? Am I screwed? At what point do I pull the plug on this thing again?

Gotta love me some Microsoft…

Never pull the plug on Windows updates unless we’re talking “stuck at the loading beyond several hours.”

Let it finish, if it doesn’t finish, hope and pray that “Last Known Good Config” is functional. If not that, hope and pray that you can get to the recovery console and access system restore.

If it doesn’t come back at all Jerry you’ll need to do a system recovery. Reboot, hold F8 while it starts to boot until you get the option for advanced boot options. There is a very clearly labeled “Repair your computer” now within that. It should be able to back out changes enough, or ditch recent changes enough to fix it.

A key you want to remember. Whenever a major patch it applied from Microsoft, it creates a system restore point. Some of those in your case will be labeled with the Windows update that was applied. Choose one before that, away you go.

And remember: STAY CALM

Apparently I FUBAR’d this computer good, and none of the repair or recovery options worked for me.

So since I was gonna have to reinstall Windows anyway, I went ahead and upgraded the hard drive from 250GB to 640. The old drive’s still good, so I put it in an enclosure to copy my documents and whatnot.

I’ve also changed my Windows Update options so that I have a lot more control over them now.

Thanks, Skipper and Ryan, for your responses.

What options did you have it set to? I usually download all the critical ones automatically, but I always like to kick off the install. I don’t take driver updates unless something is broken. I opt out of a lot of the optional ones–last time I checked, there were literally two dozen of language packs in my optional queue. Who needs em’.

I don’t remember what options I had it set to - all I know is that it apparently would download stuff in the background and then install it before shutting down whenever I would do a shutdown or reboot.

I think my current settings have me installing manually.

In my opinion that’s the biggest drawback of “Ultimate.” There should be a way to tell it, “never show me these damned optional updates again.”

Glad you got it back up and running Jerri but sorry that it was the hard way. At least Windows 7 is a pain free install.

Windows Update -> Optional Updates -> Right Click Update -> “Hide Update”

I have nothing to add other than to laugh at your diagnosis that Windows Update screwed you: methinks you screwed yourself!

I love you. And I will name my first daughter, James Gutierrez Skipper.

Was this a recent addition or has it been there for some time?

Yeah, because there’s no possible way that Windows could auto-update itself into a fail-state.

Oh wait, it’s done that for years. I think it’s called the “Windows Genuine Advantage.”

Been there as long as I can remember :)

Never happened to me and I’m obsessive-compulsive about upgrading software. That’s not to say it couldn’t happen but I find it amusing that Jerri interrupted the update process twice and is presenting that as a Windows Update failure.

I mean, look: I deleted a directory full of MSIs from somewhere under %WINDOWS% on my Windows XP laptop with the result that I can no longer update certain programs/libraries - the .NET framework being just one of them. I think the update installers are deltas of previous updates or something and without access to the previous update’s MSI they can’t work. Anyway, the net result is that Windows Update is fucked but I don’t blame Windows Update.

Also, at the risk of sounding like CCZ, WGA has never fucked me up either and I’ve never ever paid for a copy of Windows (my dad’s company usually have more copies of each version than they need, usually complete with VLKs).

That’s fixable, dermot.

As someone who fixes these things all the time, I can say that Windows update does have the potential to nuke a working install. I’ve seen systems that were working fine, ran a Windows update, and next thing you know, unrecoverable errors. Vista and Windows 7 are even better at screwing themselves up via updates than XP, from my experience so far. I’ve seen at least 2 Win7 systems in the last couple months that were completely hosed by Windows updates.

I’ve seen it happen a few times (including one memorable discovery of an all-night loop of failed install/failed recovery), and I think part of the problem is that Windows Update tries to do too much at one time and doesn’t tell the end-user enough about the planned changes.

The dig at WGA was included because MS decided to use that phrasing despite there being no advantage to the end user, and a real possibility of new problems being introduced.

I think I mentioned that in the first line of my first post.

Thanks for your help.

I’m wondering if one of the updates was really big and didn’t have enough drive space. I was running a 250GB drive that was 2/3 to 3/4 full. I can’t think of any other reason one of them would just stall out like that.

I suppose it depends on your sample size really.


Sorry, I thought it was mildly amusing - I wish I could have contributed something helpful but I’ve been lucky thus far with Windows Update.

You’re welcome. And please don’t do that to her.