Microsoft Update Incompatibility Pinpointed

Microsoft Update screen excerpt

Microsoft Update, Unclogged

Years ago, Microsoft changed the Windows Update website in a way that made it incompatible with my laptop. It would show me the Express and Custom install buttons, followed after some delay by a meaningless error message.

The website has encountered a problem and cannot display the page you are trying to view. [Error number: 0x800A0007]

I’ve finally found the underlying problem: Microsoft Update now requires at least 700 MB of virtual memory, just to check for updates.  It also fails to check for this resource before it crashes.

The diagnosis: My laptop only has 500 MB of physical memory, and it usually runs with paging files at zero for maximum performance.  I had to reset the Virtual Memory custom size settings, so I chose 100 MB initial and 500 MB maximum paging.  Now it can install the backlog of patches without crashing.

Microsoft Update and Task Manager after as seen after a crash

Crash Screenshot

If you find yourself diagnosing one of those Microsoft Update crashes, be sure to try running it with the Performance tab visible in Task Manager.  When the Page File Usage spikes to the top, or the Commit Charge is within 50 MB of its limit, the crash is likely related to faulty memory management.

1 Aug 2011

Systems Engineering


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