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March 31, 2020

War Stories: T520 Update Issues Finally Resolved


Man! I ran into an interesting Catch-22* (see note at end of story) this weekend on my 2013 vintage Lenovo T520 laptop. I was trying to catch it up using Windows Update, but the checking for updates process would never complete. And because that check kept running in the background, I couldn’t get the “Windows update reset” batch file from TenForums to run to completion, either. That’s why I call it a Catch-22: the update process wouldn’t complete, and the reset batch couldn’t turn off the Windows Update service, because the update process wouldn’t complete. Stuck!

Getting T520 Update Issues Resolved

Of course, with Windows 10, where there’s sufficient will, there’s almost always a way to achieve one’s ends. This time, I rebooted the machine with the networking interface disabled. “If the PC can’t access the network,” I reasoned, “it can’t access Windows Update either.” And indeed my next try to reset the Windows Update service inside the TenForums batch file worked. The reset process ran all the way to proper completion, including a quick stop for the Windows Update service. On my next attempt to run WU, it ran to completion — though it still took several minutes for the initial “Update check” to handshake with the WU servers and start the download process going.

What if WU Reset Doesn’t Help?

I had already contemplated that possibility, so I also visited uupdump.ml to download the latest 18363.535 OS and update components. I had it build me an ISO for that version with updates included. This took quite a bit longer than it takes to grab an upgrade ISO. That’s because it has to build the initial install components, including the various .wim files first.Then second, it has to use DISM to apply the updates to those image files offline. Of course, this adds to the time it takes to finish up. It probably took between 20 and 30 minutes to do its thing, rather than the more usual 15 minutes or so. But I had a USB flash drive ready to go, and planned to run an in-place upgrade repair install if WU remained unresponsive after the last reset attempt.

Fortunately for me, that last attempt worked, and the T520 is now current and up-to-date. I’ve also captured that image using Macrium Reflect. Now, should I need to conduct any repairs, I’ll have something usable from which to work.

*For the benefit of those readers whose first language is NOT English, I’d like to explain what catch-22 means. Catch-22 is the title of a famous World War II-focused novel by Joseph Heller, and a great favorite of mine. A Catch-22 is defined formally as “a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.” In simpler terms: “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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