Q: When I try to update Windows at the Windowsupdate.Microsoft
.com site, it never works. What am I doing wrong? — Jesse
A: Keeping your Windowsbased operating system secure from potential attacks is an absolute must for anyone who connects to the Internet. Malicious code, looks for unprotected computers that are innocently surfing the Internet.
Microsoft has made if fairly simple to keep your system updated by creating a Web site (http://windowsupdate.Micro soft.com) that will scan your computer and notify you of the updates that your system lacks.
You can either type in the address above or click on the Tools menu in Internet Explorer and choose the Windows Update option.
Once Windows Update scans your system, it will present you with a list of items that are considered critical for your system and, in the left margin of the page, links to general updates as well as driver updates that are available for you to download and install.
The process is fairly simple when everything works, but many users experience problems or error messages when they attempt to perform this vital task.
The most common causes for failure are improper settings in the browser (Internet Explorer) or the need to clear out certain files from your system.
First, make sure your Internet Security is set to the Medium level. In Internet Explorer, click on Tools, then on Internet Options, then on the Security tab. Verify that the security level is set to Medium. If it reads Custom, click on the Default Level button to reset it to Medium.
If you make a change to this setting, you must close the browser and reopen it for the changes to take effect. Just for good measure, you may want to temporarily disable your antivirus or any software firewall programs that could impede the process as well.
If that doesn’t help, the next step is to clear the browser’s Cache and History files. To do this, again click on Tools, then Internet Options and in the Temporary Internet Files section, click the Delete Files and Clear History buttons, then click the OK button.
Once again, close the browser and reopen it and try again.
If this doesn’t work, you may need to clear the contents of the hidden Windows Update folder on your hard drive. Doubleclick on My Computer, then on the Tools menu, then on Folder Options. Click on the View tab at the top, then click on the option in the Advanced Settings box to Show hidden files and folders, then on OK.
Now navigate to the Program Files folder on the C: drive and open it, then open the Windows Update folder, and if you see any files or folders other than the V4 folder, delete them.
Next open the V4 folder and click on the IUHIST.XML file, then on the Edit menu, then Invert Selection, which should select everything except the IUHIST.XML file, which contains the history of your updates. Press the Delete key and then click Yes to confirm the deletion of everything except this IUHIST.XML file.
If none of this helps you, Microsoft has posted an extensive list of solutions to actual error messages specific to Windows updates at
Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the "Computer Corner" radio show at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KTAR (620 AM) and the "Tech No Phobia" television show at 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays on COX9. Readers may send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.