Automatic Updates stops working after a repair install of Windows XP

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Article ID: 555615 - View products that this article applies to.
Author: Richard Harper MVP
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SUMMARY

Windows XP Repair installation causes Automatic Updates to no longer recognize that updates are needed, leaving the computer in a vulnerable state until Service Packs and updates are re-applied

SYMPTOMS

After performing a repair install of Windows XP using the Repair feature of Windows Setup, your computer will no longer automatically download updates via the Automatic Updates process even if it has been configured to do so.  There is no warning or error reported and no visible sign that Automatic Updates is no longer functioning as it was configured to.
 
Since the repair install will remove all Windows Service Packs and security updates that may have been installed on your computer, you cannot rely on Automatic Updates to re-apply Windows Service Packs or updates that the computer is now missing.  You will need to manually install Windows Service Packs and updates to protect your computer.  Until you do your computer will be unprotected against any vulnerabilities that were previously resolved by Windows Service Packs or security updates.

CAUSE

A Repair install of Windows removes any Windows Service Packs and updates that were previously installed. The repair install also replaces Windows Update client files on your server with older versions of these files.  As a result, Automatic Updates believes your computer is still up-to-date and will not download or install any Windows Service Packs or updates that the computer needs after the Repair install.  Since Automatic Updates believes the computer is up-to-date on Windows Service Packs and updates, no warnings or error messages are generated.

RESOLUTION

To resolve the Automatic Updates problem (and to protect your computer against vulnerabilities) go to either the Windows Update or Microsoft Update web sites and install any needed Windows Service Packs or updates.  Once you have downloaded and installed at least one critical update from the Windows Update or Microsoft Update web site, Automatic Updates will once again correctly detect, download or install Windows Service Packs or security updates depending on what settings you have selected for Automatic Updates on your computer.

MORE INFORMATION

Thanks to Ron Martell and Larry Samuels for helping to diagnose why the Automatic Updates process was failing.
Further thanks to the Microsoft Windows Update engineering team for clarifying the issues involved in causing AU to fail.

Properties

Article ID: 555615 - Last Review: May 26, 2006 - Revision: 1.0
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2002
  • Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 1
  • Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2
  • Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition
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