Operating System Affected: Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012
Symptoms: Windows Update stuck “Checking For Updates” for long periods of time, related process (i.e. svchost.exe) runs constantly at 10-99% CPU even during idle
Cause: Windows/Microsoft Update Failure
I’ve expanded this post to include possible solutions for all windows editions affected. The symptom to look out for is if:
1) Windows Update is enabled and svchost.exe or an equivalent process is running continuously with high RAM and CPU utilization
2) Windows Update is manually started with “Checking for Updates” and it never stops. The checking for updates stage of the process should not take longer than a couple minutes and without fixing this I’ve let it run for days with no result.
The solutions are:
1) Completely disable the Windows Update service and live with no updates, not just setting it to “Never check for updates (not recommended)” as this doesn’t fully stop it
2) Upgrade to Windows 10 (not always an option)
3) Fix the problem outlined below for your respective operating system version
Install the following patches in right order (increasing KB package value) and according to the proper operating system, bit-architecture, and IE version (when applicable) [all important!].
Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2
KB3172605 – link
Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2
KB3138615 – link
Although power consumption may not scale linearly compared to CPU utilization, a constant increase in CPU utilization is bound to result in higher power consumption and heat generation anyways, neither of which are great. Think about it, you have an office of computers running at 100% CPU 24/7 cause they’re searching for those updates, and for the longest time I had no idea this was happening. The computer just felt a bit sluggish, as once you start using it the OS will intelligently reallocate resources to what you’re doing, and we had computer components dying prematurely from being constantly used by Windows Update. Planned obsolescence at its finest.
Note: For Windows Vista, you’re wondering if you have to install all of them and really in that order? Yes, I’ve tried installing just the last two, just the first couple, any combination and this is the only way that worked for me. This solution was compiled for many sources, too many to list, but mainly bleepingcomputer and mydigitallife.