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Help! I Can’t Access Windows Update

written by: Greg Brian•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 11/25/2009

While a rare event in one’s lifetime using the internet, everybody is going to experience at least one time when a Windows Update fails to load on their computer. This isn’t necessarily your own fault or Microsoft's and more a problem of security software you may be running if not viruses.

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    We all know Windows updates are crucial for the security of our computer, so you’ll have to regain access to updates before years fly by. A couple of different methods can be used to gain access again, but the best route is this easier way:

    The easiest fix for re-accessing Windows Update

    As it is with other needed things that get blocked on the net, Windows requires you to change the Active X controls on your computer’s control panel in order to get their security updates through. Open Internet Explorer first to make the changes. Here’s what you do next:

    • Find “Tools” at the top of IE. Click on that and choose “internet options.” Click “security” and choose the option of resetting your zones to default. Under zones, click the “internet” option. It’s here where you’ll have to customize to make various selections.

    Customizing for Active X control

    When customizing, do these quick eight steps:

    • Select disable in allowing unused Active X controls to run.
    • Press prompt in allowing Scriptlets
    • Select enable in allowing automatic prompts for Active X
    • Pick the recommended “prompt” to allow signed Active X controls
    • Choose prompt in allowing unsigned Active X controls
    • Press enable to allow your computer to run Active X plug-ins
    • Select enable to allow Script Active X controls that are safe for scripting
    • Enable your computer to allow a prompt when you’re downloading a file

    Other simple and slightly more complex ways to gain access to Windows Update:

    In some cases, you can simply access Windows Update from your Windows start menu. However, when Active X controls are at play, it won’t do any good. If in the rare instance where a Windows Update had a glitch outside of Active X problems, going in to download the latest updates manually through the start menu would work fine.

    The best way to determine what really happened is to do a quick troubleshoot. Yes, I know that troubleshooting and Windows might seem like a synonym. But since various circumstances can lead to a Windows Update failure, it’s best to find out why to save you time on any particular action. How do you determine what happened?

    • As mentioned before, go into your start menu and call up Windows Update. This takes you to Microsoft’s Windows Update website to check the status on your updates.

    • By clicking on a red X by your failed update, the code for it will appear that can be cut and pasted into a Troubleshooter. The Troubleshooter can be found by selecting “Find Solutions.”

    • There’s also a Microsoft Knowledge Base near the Troubleshooter to gain help. Ultimately, though, getting a Microsoft expert/friend (or Microsoft support itself) to help you might be better than this more technical route.
    • Troubleshooting will also determine if a virus caused the Windows Update to fail. In that regard, do a scan of your computer with your anti-virus software to remove the virus before taking any other action.