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A quick fix for problems with Windows Update

Quick housekeeping note: Hey, you've found the new Hassle-Free PC! Well done. Actually, what you've found is the new address for Hassle-Free PC, meaning it's time to update your bookmark. Here's the Web address for the blog, which I hope you'll continue to visit daily: http://www.pcworld.com/column/hassle-free-pc.

Now, then, on to business...

For the past couple weeks I've noticed that whenever I shut down my PC, Windows installs updates. Or at least appears to install them.

Typically this happens only once in a while, not every time. So I checked Windows Update to see which updates were in the queue. Then I shut down, rebooted, and checked it again: sure enough, those same two updates were still there -- they hadn't been installed at all. Or perhaps they had, but something inside Windows wasn't recognizing that fact.

Unfortunately, these kinds of problems aren't uncommon. And they aren't limited to Windows repeatedly offering the same update; I've also had letters from readers who get error messages after Windows tries to update itself.

This can be a tricky issue to solve, but here's a good place to start: Microsoft's Windows Update Fix-it. This automated tool will scan your Windows Update configuration and repair any problems it finds, resolve any incorrect data locations, and re-register required services.

All you do is click the Run Now button, then follow the onscreen prompts. (Depending on what browser you use and how it's configured, you may need to manually run the Fix-it after downloading it.)

With any luck, the tool will get Windows Update running properly again. If not, you can find a few additional troubleshooting options on Microsoft's knowledge-base page, "Windows Update or Microsoft Update repeatedly offers the same update."

Have you had problems getting Windows Update to work properly? If so, were you able to find a fix?

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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