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How to deal with a failed Windows update

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How to deal with a failed Windows update

Coping with 'Failure reverting changes'

If your PC delivers an error message about Windows Updates configuring, it may mean that an important update has been missed. Here's what to do.

Windows Update normally works very well, but it can occasionally get itself into a mess. This can happen when an individual update fails, and other updates can be installed only with that first update in place. Sometimes, Windows can attempt to apply such updates in the wrong order, which results in the repeated failures you describe.

To resolve this issue, we first need to find out which updates have failed and apply them manually. Open the Control Panel, then select Windows Update, 'View Update History'. All successfully installed updates will be displayed, along with any that have failed.

Each update will be listed with its associated Knowledge Base number. This takes the form of a numerical code preceded by the letters 'KB'. Head to the Microsoft Download Center ( and enter into the website's Search box the Knowledge Base number (including the 'KB') for each failed download in the list. This will take you to an article that explains the purpose of the update and provides a link to manually download it.

Check the update history after each update you install to verify its success.

If an update fails, move on to the next and try it later. Eventually, you will have performed all the required updates and your PC will start up as normal.


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What would cause a failed windows update in Windows XP?

Lots of things could cause it.

Your antivirus or firewall could interfere with it (rare but still happens)

Microsoft could make a mistake and try to install an update that is not appropriate for your machine (most common with hardware / driver updates. Microsoft has a long history of windows update mis identifying the hardware on your system and installing drivers for things you do not have or ones that conflict with what you do, like when SP2 tried to install Intel Chipset drivers on AMD machines from HP resulting in a non bootable configuration).

Damage of the packet during download.

Failure to complete the update, IE you shutdown while it is still installing , or do not reboot when it tells you to reboot.

Conflict with hardware or software you have installed / running on your system. IE a file in use needs to be replaced to allow the update to proceed, and that device or software refuses to shut down and let windows replace the file because it is using it and the update pauses at that point and never resumes.

Many more possibilities, but that is a start.

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