Windows XP slow to update

Posted on 2013-12-26
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2014-01-04
With a clean install of Windows XP, it has been been taking 1-3 hours to complete the first 'Checking for Updates' on the Windows Updates website.  The problem has been mentioned quite a bit online, including http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/12/exponential-algorithm-making-windows-xp-miserable-could-be-fixed

Does anyone have a solution for this?
We have seen it on multiple clean installs & it is quite a pain.
Question by:RCC_Tech
LVL 101

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 39741013
If you are using an original XP DVD then there are 3 Service Packs to update. SP2 is a  big one. So the time you see from a fresh install does not seem unreasonable to me.

I have an old XP machine in the basement that I had to press into service. It was at SP3 but about 100 or more updates behind. It took at least two hours to update.

Also, lately (around Patch Tuesday and a bit later) it seems all the people wanting to hang on to XP to or past its expiry date are doing updates, so a big load on XP update servers.

All in all, normal given the circumstances.

.... Thinkpads_User
LVL 84

Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 39741019
The "fixes" that have been posted do not keep it "fixed".  I have not figured out what causes it.  My main XP computers (which are also the fastest ones that I use everyday) do not have the problem.  Almost all the ones that I only use occasionally do have the problem.  Makes me wonder if it is because the update check is only being done once a month on those machines whereas my machines I use every day may be checking more often.
LVL 25

Expert Comment

by:Tony Giangreco
ID: 39741123
if it's XP they are running, there won't be many updates coming any more. Microsoft will stop supporting XP in March. It may be time to replace those relics!!!

Win7 is stable and well supported if you don't want to try Win 8.
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LVL 70

Accepted Solution

Gary Case earned 2000 total points
ID: 39741211
Unfortunately I don't think the description of this being an "exponential algorithm" issue is correct, UNLESS the first attempt to actually fix this is what CAUSED the current exceptionally long check times.    It IS true that XP updates could often take quite a while to check; but after the October patch Tuesday it got MUCH worse -- in some cases running seemingly "forever" and never ending (the longest I let one run to check this was overnight ... but if it hadn't finished in 10-12 hours I doubt that it would have).

I THOUGHT I had a resolution for this, which I posted in early December ... repeated here:

 I've isolated exactly how to resolve this, so for anyone else with the same issue, these steps may be useful ...

(1)  Install XP but do NOT attempt any updates.   The only thing you need to do is install any device drivers necessary to get network access [You can install all the drivers needed for a "clean" Device Manager if you want].

(2)  If your install media didn't include SP3, then install SP3 from the standalone download. [ http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/confirmation.aspx?id=24 ]

(3)  Install Internet Explorer 8 (from the standalone download), but UNCHECK the box that says "Install Updates".  [ http://download.microsoft.com/download/C/C/0/CC0BD555-33DD-411E-936B-73AC6F95AE11/IE8-WindowsXP-x86-ENU.exe ]

(4)  After the reboot from installing IE, answer the initialization questions when you load it.   Then do a search for the KB898461 download, and download it.   Before you can download it, you'll be prompted to install Windows Genuine Validation ... let that install, then download the KB installer (but don't run it yet).

(5)  Download the installer for KB905474. [ http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/confirmation.aspx?id=20888 ]

(6)  Download the Windows Update Agent. [ http://download.windowsupdate.com/windowsupdate/redist/standalone/7.4.7600.226/windowsupdateagent30-x86.exe ]

(7)  Run the installer for KB905474.   Uncheck the "Show me the advantages" checkbox when it finishes.

(8)  Run the installer for KB898461 (the one you downloaded in Step 4).

(9)  Run the installer for the Windows Update Agent.

Done :-)    You can now run Windows Update and it will work fine.   The first time you run it it will install an update to the installer;  then it will take a VERY long time to do the checks (an hour or longer).    After you install the first round of updates, it will work normally (a minute or less to do subsequent update checks).


HOWEVER, I've since noted that if you allow the system to get out-of-date, it will AGAIN take a long time (1-2 hours) for an update check.    As long as you do the checks every day, they only take 1-2 minutes.    But at least the checks WORK (which wasn't the case before).

Hopefully the "fix" Microsoft is apparently working on will be included in the January updates.    But if not, I would get the systems working; then be sure you check them very frequently so they stay up-to-date with minimal update check times.    As already noted, this becomes an OBE issue in about 100 days anyway :-)
LVL 70

Assisted Solution

by:Gary Case
Gary Case earned 2000 total points
ID: 39741216
BTW, if you're doing a LOT of clean installs, there IS one way to bypass this.   I've toyed with doing this, but haven't got around to it yet (may still do it just to have an up-to-date install disk for use after the end of support).

You could do ONE clean install, and note the KB #'s for all of the updates that are applied in the order they're installed.

Then slipstream ALL of those updates into a current SP3 install disk.

This would give you an installation disk that already has ALL of the updates (as of the date you created the disk) applied.    If you then kept the master folder for this disk up-to-date by slipstreaming further updates to it through the April EOL date, you could then create a final "XP up-to-date" installation disk that would let you do a clean install of a completely up-to-date XP system in the future ... no Windows Update ever required :-)
LVL 93

Expert Comment

ID: 39741328
what i do is make an install cd with SP3 integrated (or all SP's)
then you need only updates from After SP3
here's how :  http://www.howtohaven.com/system/createwindowssetupdisk.shtml

Author Comment

ID: 39742178
All the installs I do with XP are SP3 w/IE8 installed on first boot.  The recommendations by Gary seemed to help some, but it is still a painfully long check on the first go.  Slipstreaming all the updates is something to consider, especially with XP losing Windows Updates soon.

Expert Comment

ID: 39756703
I went through all the steps in this post, but so far (about 3 hours), it hasn't worked.

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