ADVENTURES IN COMPUTING – WINDOW$ UPDATE HORROR STORY

Just to be clear, I am not a fan of Windows. I started out in computing with Mac, the original Mac, way back when, and in the late 90s discovered Linux. I’ve had to use Windows in work situations, but there I had an IT Department to keep things up to date and fix problems. I do almost all my computer stuff with Linux (currently, Open SUSE Leap, which I highly recommend.). To that end I run three desktop machines (which I build) with it as a home network. I learned the hard way over the years that computers and hard drives do die, usually with little or no warning and came to believe in fault tolerance by way of hardware redundancy and multiple backups. But, there are a few tasks I still have to do with Windows, Widows Updates (including Defender), Turbo Tax (no Linux version, about which I remind them every year), scanning (My scanner doesn’t have a fully functional driver for Linux), and downloading whole albums from Amazon Music (the app for that in Linux would only do one song at a time). So, I also have two machines running Widows 10. Why two? One is for my Turbo Tax, and the other was a replacement for my Dad’s computer for his taxes when Widows XP went out of support. For most of the year, about all I do on those machines is updates and they only get turned on about once a month.

On Monday, I decided it was time to get working on my taxes. I booted up that computer for the first time is quite a while and it proceeded to update Defender and Widows. After one failure, Defender did update eventually. Widows Update failed to download its updates. Turbo Tax update also failed. Then, I found that Edge, Explorer, and Chrome would not connect to anything on the internet. I started up the other Windows box and had no problems. Unfortunately, that one does not have on it my 2016 copy of Turbo Tax or the previous year files. What to do?

I spent the better part of the next four days going through all the possible Settings I could find for the network, firewall, Defender, App and Program permissions, etc. searching for the problem. I turned off the firewall and Defender, checked settings and logs on my firewall-router-network-switch machine and the DSL router/modem, rebooted the modem (when in doubt, reboot things), and ran the trouble shooter on the Widows system multiple times. All with no fix, although the Updater did manage to download one of three updates very, very slowly and install it without fixing the real problem. BTW, I hate Windows Update and their update strategy. My Linux gives application package and kernel module updates whenever they are ready, which is several times a week and they are mostly quick and don’t need a restart, or even a log-out and log-in.

Finally, late yesterday (Thursday) after running the Trouble Shooter again, I noticed a “last resort” note in the results details with a link to download a special Widows Update Repair app. I clicked it, and lo and behold, it went right around the connection problem to Widows Support. I clicked on W-10 and there was the app to download and step-by-step instructions. It downloaded. It ran. It didn’t find the problem and suggested running it again as Administrator. I did that and it found a data corruption error in the Windows Update database and fixed that along with a couple of related items in Registry. Update restarted and got the updates (eventually) and installed them while I went off to bed. In the morning, everything worked.

So, Windows users, if you have a Windows Update failure, run the troubleshooter and if it doesn’t find the problem, look in the Details for that link. It really does work. Thank you Microsoft, I guess that has to count as a Birthday Present, but I still think you’re a Borg.

Now, I still have to do the taxes. YUCK!

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