Windows Checking For Updates Stuck

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 XP and Windows 2003
KB2888505
KB2898785

Windows Vista
KB3078601
KB3109094
KB3185911
KB3203859
KB3203859
KB3204723
KB3216775
KB4014661
KB4015195
KB4015380

Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2
KB3172605

Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2
KB3138615

With Office installed
Having Office 2007, Office 2010, or Office Compatibility Pack SP3 installed will also cause the same problem even if you installed any of the above patches. You’ll have to install the below patches as well if you’re still stuck on checking for updates phase.
KB4011605, KB4011607 – Office compatibility Pack SP3
KB4011657 – Word 2007
KB4011602 – Excel 2007
KB4011659 – Word 2010
KB4011660 – Excel 2010

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. Also, just updated from Vista because it’s truly terrible.

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