I recently had to do a Factory Reset. I very seldomly have to do a factory reset because of a Windows problem but this particular one was the exception. The time I had set aside was between four to eight hours start to finish. That included allowing the factory restore software to run and set the computer back up to new and the update of Windows 7.
Once the restore had been completed I started the arduous “Checking for Updates” knowing it was going to take a little bit of time. What I didn’t have planned was that the process of “Checking for Updates” and Installing the updates would take almost 24 hours start to finish. It took almost 12 hours just for the updates to be downloaded. The installation took roughly the expected time. The checking for updates process though was just a bit ridiculous.
Why On Earth Does It Take Windows 7 So Long To Find and Install Updates?
When you install a fresh version of Windows 7 there a lot of different factors that go into the amount of time it will take to get and install Windows 7 updates. Many of us including me may be lucky enough and have it finish in an acceptable amount of time but at least 3 out of 10 times it will take an extremely long time. Though it doesn’t speed the process up for us at least knowing why helps relieve the stress a little bit and perhaps even know what to expect not very long after the process begins.
First and foremost it is helpful to understand exactly what happens that first time you click check for updates. Windows goes through and evaluates the computer and what is on the computer. It then polls the Microsoft update servers for the updates that it has determined are needed. Once the updates are downloaded the update installation begins.
A lot of factors determine how long those processes are going to take.
- Internet Speed
- Microsoft Update Server Traffic and Prioritization (Speculation is Windows 10 updates have been given higher priority)
- Speed of Computer Processor
- Amount of Available Computer Memory
- Speed of Computer’s Hard Drive
- Available Free Space of Computer’s Hard Drive
These are a few of the more impacting factors that go into the amount of time determining the needed updates, downloading the needed updates, and installing the needed updates will take. Any 1 or 2 of these can cause an update process that is expected to take an hour or 2 to take 12 to 24 hours or in rare cases even longer.
I do recommend that even though a slow installation is nothing more than annoying you allow the process to progress naturally. Keep in mind that even though you may have just performed this process on one computer that took two hours doesn’t mean the very next machine won’t take 12 or more hours.
Looking For Solutions To Speed Up The Process
When facing a first time update that is taking FOREVER the first instinct is that something is wrong. Either the restore media had problems or something was corrupt when installed. If you take a look around the Internet you will see hundreds or more similar posts on forums trying to figure out why the process is hanging or taking so long and what to do to fix it.
With all of the offered solutions out there I recommend patience above all else. If you do reach the point where you have waited an exceptable amount of time (these days about 12 to 13 hours on the outside) and it still seems to be hung at searching for updates then you might want to try priming the process and seeing what happens.
Priming the Proverbial 1st Windows Update Pump
Before anything it’s important to know whether any service pack has already been installed. To do this click on the start ball in the lower left hand corner and move your mouse cursor over until it highlights “Computer”. Right click the mouse on top of computer move your mouse down to Properties and click your mouse normally. In the window that pops up you will be able to see whether a service pack is already installed.
If you find out that no Windows Service Pack is installed then I recommend being patience a bit longer as this means that the download size is immensely larger than if a service pack was already present. Larger downloads equal more time for the process to complete obviously.
If at least Service Pack 1 is already installed then you may want to prime the pump by attempting to manually install Microsoft Explorer 11. This process by itself will check for and download supporting files and stop when there are updates that are required in order for the installation process to continue. When you click on the start button you will likely see the update emblem on the shutdown selection meaning there are updates waiting to be installed during the shut down Windows process.
Once the Update Installation Has Begun
Once the process of installing updates has begun chances are that you are in for a longer wait again. Depending on the available resources of the computer these installation times will very some being quite long such as the eight hours mentioned earlier. Even though these installation will take place during a restart only a portion can be installed without a complete computer shutdown so it is always recommended to shut down the computer completely to make sure of a full installation.
Minor issues can occur if the shutdown process has not been followed such as when attempting to install an older printer that uses the IEEE 1284.4 generic driver. Chances are that the update of this generic driver will fail without a complete computer shut down so save yourself a bit of frustration.
Using the priming method does not mean that all updates have been installed either. It is necessary to once again start the searching for updates process so any missed or skipped updates can be found and installed in order to complete the process. Remember you are talking about 200 to 300+ Windows 7 updates so it is not just a few updates we are waiting on being downloaded so it is justified that it takes a little time according to all of the factors listed above.
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