After installing many updates, Windows Update on Windows 7 computers fails

I have 3 brand new Dell computers, 2 laptops and 1 desktop. They are all having the same problem. I have already wiped the hard drives and reinstalled the OS from the factory image.

Out of the box, I install Microsoft System Essentials. That installs fine. I then apply all available Windows Updates. It applies most of them, but then starts to fail on the last few. I do them 1 at a time, get 1 or 2 to apply (rebooting in between), but then can't get any of the last 3 to apply. I get an 800706F7 error.

I have tried all of the usual work-arounds. It appears to me that there is a bug in one of  the Windows updates that causes the Windows Installer to fail after that is applied. Anyone have any ideas?
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Dilip PatidarCommented:

Please try this Microsoft Fix.

If you persist the issue after the Microsoft Fix then Use the below solution.

1. Open a CLI and enter net stop wuauserv to stop the Windows Update Service.
2. Navigate to your Windows folder and rename SoftwareDistribution to SoftwareDistribution.old.
3. Go back to the CLI and enter net start wuauserv to start the Windows Update Service.
4. It'll give you an error message when you go back to Windows updates, but recheck and have them download again.
5.Do the updates process.
6. Delete the SoftwareDistribution.old folder.

Dilip Patidar....
I have already wiped the hard drives and reinstalled the OS from the factory image.<why was this necessary?
It still surprises me I see problems like this and why these happen, so long as you allowed all the correct procedures in sequence everything works fine for me.
A clean install from an image?
What was in this image? Any updates slipstreamed?
Possibly there are keys here
Out of the box, I install Microsoft System Essentials. <>You mean  Microsoft Security Essentials?
It's best to have none in my humble opinion when you start a new windows as windows has the inbuilt Windows Defender.
When you installed windows did you agree to allow windows updates to install straight up?
It's a good idea to wait on that as you load programs and software such as Essentials without windows updates running in the background.
When you have office  installed and the email client installed all the usual stuff and everything is running well then allow windows updates to run as there will be plenty, this method prioritizes the order and includes office updates.
Do these DEL have internet connection?
MS Security Essentials may have blocked updates or caused problems corruption.
Did you allow Microsoft to decide what updates are required? Install automatically?
As there are some updates that have had to be fixed with new patches.
With a fresh windows there a lot of updates and a reboot is required several times so that each completes.
Take a look a the reliability monitor go to search type in reli run it then have a look at the errors.
What's listed in your recent updates installed?
From MS windows
Windows Update error 80072efe or 80072f76
Applies to Windows 7
If you receive Windows Update error 80072efe or 80072f76 while checking for updates, it might be caused by a connection interruption between your computer and the Windows Update servers. Close Windows Update, wait 10 to 15 minutes, and then run Windows Update again. You can also wait for Windows Update to run at its next scheduled time.
If you still receive one of these errors, you can run the Windows Update Troubleshooter that will automatically find and fix some common problems with Windows Update

There is also MS Fix it tools here
What are the KB numbers of the Failed Windows Updates?  There have been several Updates lately which are problems.  Some are not applicable to your PC.  Some have errors and have been withdrawn by MS.  Possibly you do not need to worry about them.
Look into your windowsupdate.log. C:\Windows\Windowsupdate.log  Look for the words FATAL or WARNING.

There are many fixes for Windows Update errors.  I wrote the following list some time ago.  Please forgive duplicates of suggestions already made.

Reset Windows Update


Reinstall Windows Update Agent (different links for different Win 7 systems (32bit and 64bit)) 

Run the Windows Update Readiness tool: for X64

Scan for viruses and other malware.

Run SFC /SCANNOW from a Command Prompt

Run a System Restore to a date before the problem started.

Run a Repair Install.  A Repair Install should not affect personal data or installed programs. but it never hurts to backup first.
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"windows has the inbuilt Windows Defender."  I think that is true of Win 8, but not Win7.  
Microsoft Security Essentials for Win 7 is superior to Windows Defender for Win 7.  Just the reverse for Win 8.
Also, make sure the date/time on the PCs is correct. Windows Update may work funny if the date/time on the PC is off.
Dilip Patidar--
You have made a direct quote from
You should give credit in such cases.
See post by Pass_the_Tylenol.
wayneh13Author Commented:
Everyone-please don't give me textbook response. I have tried all of those already. These are brand new computers that I have already done a factory reset on and then started applying updates for the 2nd time.

I am an experienced IT consultant and we install over 100 computers per year. This is our first experience with persistent windows update failure on brand new computers.
wayneh13Author Commented:
Date/Time is correct.
wayneh13Author Commented:
Yes, it was Security Essentials, not System Essentials. Just as an aside -- when we first started up these 3 brand new computers, we just let the updates apply. Then they failed. After they failed, we could not install Security Essentials. Then, I wiped the computers and did a factory reset. I then installed System Essentials BEFORE applying any updates and it installed and scanned fine. Then I started the Windows Update process. It has applied all of them except for the last 3. I will let you know what they are as soon as it fails again.
wayneh13Author Commented:
So, it is trying to apply these last 3 Windows updates. And it is sitting at "Installing update 1 of 3..." at about 10% progress for the last several hours. So, obviously it is still failing, just not saying so.
What are the model numbers of the computers?

If you're using the factory images, it's possible some 3rd-party software is causing the issue. Did these come with a "trial" of an anti-virus like Norton? Try uninstalling as much 3rd party applications before running the updates. Failing that, try a completely clean install of Windows on one as a test. Make a copy of the restore media first.

Have you tried contacting Dell? If these are brand new computers, they should still be under warranty, and Dell may be familiar with any issues these models have with recent Windows Updates.
" I will let you know what they are as soon as it fails again. "

You do not have to wait for the next failure.  Just go to Control Panel\Windows Update\View update history and you can see which Updates were Successful and which Failed.
wayneh13Author Commented:
Dell will not support these "software" problems without premium support. These are 2 completely different models of Dells, so I don't think it is the manufacturer. One is an OptiPlex 9020 and the other 2 are Latitude 3540s.
wayneh13Author Commented:
These computers did not come with any anti-malware preinstalled. I installed Security Essentials. These are business class computers that typically come with very little crapware.
Hmm, it looks like one of the recent Windows Update releases has been pulled due to causing issues with installing later updates:
One of this week's Patch Tuesday updates for Windows 7 has been withdrawn after some users discovered that it blocked installation of software containing digital signatures, including first- and third-party software, and even other Windows updates.

The problem update is called KB3004394....

.... The error code 0x8004FF91 seems to be a common finding.

MS has released a patch to remove the update from Windows 7 computers:

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Yep, as I suggested to wayneh13
Did he allow Microsoft to decide what updates are required? Install automatically?
As there are some updates that have had to be fixed with new patches. http:#a40490770
Unfortunately I didn't provide a link at that point I was gathering details while informing him  of this fact and to respond. So that should help him, when he responds.
wayneh13Author Commented:
Yes, the problem was due to buggy updates from Microsoft that have since been withdrawn and replaced.
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