It’s a little more cumbersome than it used to be on the latest versions of Windows, but it’s still reasonably straightforward. Windows Update will recreate what it needs the next time you run it. Return to the Command Prompt window, type the following, and hit Enter: If you’re installing Windows 7 from scratch, you’ll notice that Windows Update will take a very long time while checking for updates.

Of course, if you want, you could also take some time to add Safe Mode to the Windows boot menu to make it easier in the future. This can also occur if you haven’t checked for updates in a while, even if you installed your Windows 7 system long ago.

When you’ve booted into Safe Mode, the next step is to stop the Windows Update service, and the easiest way to do that is with the Command Prompt. This occurs even if you install Windows 7 from a disc or USB drive with Service Pack 1 integrated, which you should.

We’re also going to add the extra step of booting into Safe Mode first, just to make sure that Windows can really let go of that cache of Windows Update downloads. On Windows 7, restart your computer and press the “F8” key on your computer while it boots to access the boot options menu, where you’ll find a “Safe Mode” option.

On Windows 8 and 10, hold down the Shift key as you click the “Restart” option in Windows and navigate to Troubleshoot Safe Mode.

Windows Update is supposed to work silently in the background, but it may refuse to continue if it can’t install an individual update.

This can happen on Windows 7, 8, or 10, but it’s become especially common with Windows 7.

Most of the time, the troubleshooter can successfully remove a stuck update from the queue. Even if the troubleshooter says it couldn’t identify the problem, it’s possible that the actions of starting and stopping the service and clearing out the cache did the trick.

If you’re still having trouble after running the troubleshooter (or if you’re the type that just likes to do things yourself), performing the same actions manually may help where the troubleshooter didn’t.

Sometimes updates will error out, or sometimes Windows Update may just get stuck “searching for updates” forever. This troubleshooter is available on Windows 7, 8, and 10.

You’ll find it in the same place on all modern versions of Windows.

To run the troubleshooter, hit Start, search for “troubleshooting,” and then run the selection that search comes up with.

In the Control Panel list of troubleshooters, in the “System and Security” section, click “Fix problems with Windows Update.” In the Windows Update troubleshooting window, click “Advanced.” In the advanced settings, make sure that the “Apply repairs automatically” check box is enabled, click “Run as administrator” and then click Next.