Fixing Windows 7 Update - Restart Loop

Al Wong
December 5, 2019

General disclaimer: I believe this information to be very accurate but you follow these instructions at entirely your own risk. If you don't know what you are doing, do not attempt this. I cannot be held responsible if you break your computer. Although I was successful with fixing the Windows Update on this particular HP model, you may not be with a similar model. Your mileage may vary.

Windows Update is Not Robust

So one night about two weeks ago, I'm trying to update this HP Pavilion G7 laptop (Windows 7 SP1). There are 2 updates that are downloading and it's taking forever which is all too common for Microsoft. After waiting for more than two hours and hanging at 40% download, I decide to click the cancel button. I'm thinking I'll try again tomorrow.

The cancel seemed to work as it exited the download gracefully. But when I tried to shutdown the laptop, I noticed it was displaying these install notices like "Installing at 10%. Don't shutdown your computer..." I'm wondering why is it installing anything if the downloads didn't complete. But I knew better than to stop it from installing. :)

That was the start of my Windows Update problem. Now everytime I tried to update Windows, it kept saying it couldn't access system files and that I should restart Windows. Of course, restarting Windows did not fix the problem.

I'm writing this article to help anyone else who also has encountered the same problem and has not solved it yet. You may try all these methods in sequence or jump to the end and try the method that worked for me. This is for Windows 7 SP1 but it should also help with Windows 10 too.

The Microsoft Support Page

It turns out THIS WINDOWS UPDATE PROBLEM IS SO COMMON that Microsoft has written a support page just on this subject alone! But none of these methods worked for me. In fact, some of these methods were not documented well enough so the average user can actually do them! Whoever wrote this page should be fired. There were several unknowns that should have been covered. Examples:

  1. Windows Update Troubleshooter said it could only fix 1 out of 3 problems. But it doesn't explain what the unfixable problems were or what to do about them.

  2. You can't rename the /SoftwareDistributon folder as an Admin. You first need to go into safe mode. This was not documented. If you were an average user, you would be stuck here.

  3. Servicing Stack Update returns an error like "this executable was not meant for this system" when I know this was the correct executable (Windows 7 64 bit). I found out later this error is a red herring. What it's trying to say is it thinks some of the system files are "corrupt" so it can't run.

One would think, rather than produce poorly documented solutions that don't really work, Microsoft should make their Windows Update function more robust and forgiving. An ounce of prevention...

Trying Other Different Methods

So I went searching on the web and tried a variety of possible solutions. I found this one web page that pretty much listed every method I tried. As you can see on the web page, there was a lot of different things to try. But none of them fixed my update problem!


It turns out the solution was already installed on the laptop! I noticed a Windows repair program called and it had an option to repair Windows Update! I gave it a try. The repair takes a while because it's pretty thorough but be patient.

After a reboot, I tried to access Windows Update again. This time I get a completely different error message:

8024402C Windows Update encountered an unknown error

But this 8024402C error code is one that the Windows Help can fix! Just run the troubleshooter from Help. It turns out the DHCP (networking) was misconfigured and the troubleshooter fixed it!

(As an aside, I think messed up the DHCP but I think it was my fault. I had pointed DHCP to a DNS server that tweaking didn't recognize and so could not fix. If you don't understand this, don't worry about it.)

Now accessing Windows Update took a very long time but it returned with new updates.

Windows Update is working again!

I am invincible! \o/

My Writings

Last updated : December 5, 2019
Copyright 2019 Al Wong, Los Angeles, California, USA