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July 26, 2006

Windows Update Broke My Machine (svchost.exe -- application error), and How to Fix It

If you turn on automatic updating for you machine, every Tuesday-ish, Microsoft will send you patches, and they'll quietly install.  Amazingly, these patches (at least for me) never break anything.  Until now, that is.  After a recent update, my machine would spit out the following message every time I would boot.

svchost.exe -- application error the instruction at "0x745f2780" reference memory at "0x00000000". the memory could not be 'read'

Looking into the event log yielded the following:

Faulting application svchost.exe, version 5.1.2600.2180, faulting module msi.dll, version 3.1.4000.2435, fault address 0x00012780.

The problem wasn't so much this error message, but the fact then when the dialog with the error was closed, the machine became unusable (no new executables would start).  If I left the dialog open, I could use my machine "normally", but it would hang on shutdown.

Something with Windows Update broke something with the Windows Installer.  Reinstalling Windows Installer 3.1 didn't solve the problem, but the follow spelunked from Google saved my bacon:

Perform these steps leaving the svchost crash dialog open.

1. Click Start->Run, type "services.msc" (without quotation marks) in the open box and click OK.
2. Double click the service "Automatic Updates".
3. Click on the Log On tab, please ensure the option "Local System account" is selected and the option "Allow service to interact with desktop" is unchecked.

4. Check if this service has been enabled on the listed Hardware Profile. If not, please click the Enable button to enable it.
5. Click on the tab "General "; make sure the "Startup Type" is "Automatic". Then please click the button "Start" under "Service Status" to start the service.
6. Repeat the above steps with the other service: Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS)

Step 4: Re-register Windows Update components and Clear the corrupted Windows Update temp folder

1. Click on Start and then click Run,
2. In the open field type "REGSVR32 WUAPI.DLL" (without quotation marks) and press Enter.
3. When you receive the "DllRegisterServer in WUAPI.DLL succeeded" message, click OK.
4. Please repeat these steps for each of the following commands:


After the above steps are finished. Sicne temporary folder of Windows Update may be corrupted. We can refer to the following steps to rename this folder that

1. Click Start, Run, type: cmd and press Enter. Please run the following command in the opened window.

net stop WuAuServ

(note, you might need to reboot before the net stop command will work)

2. Click Start, Run, type: %windir% and press Enter.
3. In the opened folder, rename the folder SoftwareDistribution to SDold.
4. Click Start, Run, type: cmd and press Enter. Please run the following command in the opened window.

net start WuAuServ

UPDATE: This post has received a ton of comments.  One, in particular, suggests an easier fix for this problem:

1.Go 2 the start menu
2.Right click "my computer"
3.Click "properties" then the "automatic updates"
4.Choose "turn off automatic updates"
5.Reboot your computer
6.Go back to start menu and in all programs go to "windows update" you have to be connected to the internet.
7.Manually update windows.
8.Turn your automatic updates back on.

I have also had a number of people comment that the problem reappears after some time.  The recommended fix, if the problem reappears, is to turn off automatic updates, and just manually go to Windows Update periodically and update your machine.

Thanks for all the comments.  I've very please to know that this is solving the problem for many people. 

One last thing, if you're interested in the kinds of things you might face should if you're interested in Windows Vista, I recommend checking out the WinSuperSite.

Posted on July 26, 2006 at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (486) | TrackBack

July 25, 2006

Ascribed to Malice

The headline reads "Microsoft's New Home Page Shuns Firefox" stating that if you go to http://preview.microsoft.com using IE, it works just fine, but if you go there using firefox you (intentionally?) get a "page not found" error.  I don't know, the page seems to be working fine for me in FireFox.  Maybe, just maybe, it was a screw up (like the redirect URL was messed up), and not an intentional plot to screw FireFox.  But then why bother ascribing to human error anything that could be labeled malice.

Posted on July 25, 2006 at 09:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 20, 2006

Vista Build 5472

Vista build 5472 is apparently making it out the door to beta testers.  Users are reporting big performance increases (as well as promised features actually working).  Screenshots here.  Many more links to 5472 info here.

Posted on July 20, 2006 at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 19, 2006

Java gains in popularity?

I just read a bit of news headlined "Java Programming Language Gains in Popularity".  If popularity equals "searched for" then the headline is accurate.  This begs a number of questions.  First, what does the fact that a given term is searched for indicate?  Popularity is certainly a facet, but so is complexity (you search because you're trying to figure something out).  The trend line is even more interesting.  The C language has barely moved in the last 5 years.  Has the popularity of C really remained unchanged over that time?  Also, what to make of C#'s dismal ranking?  Is it really not popular (searched for), or is it actually searched for every time someone queries for "remoting" or many other .NET terms, which remain off this radar?  C++ has taken a hit over time, as my intuition and anecdotal evidence suggests.  PHP seems to have spasmed the most. 

Somehow, this data feels meaningless/randomish, but I bet it gets linked to a lot, which is probably the real goal.  See for yourself, as I fall in line.

Posted on July 19, 2006 at 09:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 17, 2006

Shout Out to Exception Helper 2.0

Bill McCarthy is really and MVP's MVP.  It's one thing to complain about something that's lacking the a product, but Bill is actually someone who will step up and say "I think we should fix this.  Who's with me?"  One area that he's recently addressed is generating code to handle the exceptions that may be thrown by a given code block.  Check out this video on his exception helper add-in for Visual Studio.

Posted on July 17, 2006 at 08:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 13, 2006


Microsoft's Language Integrated Query (LINQ) technology has progressed quite nicely since it's debut at the PDC.  In this interview, I check in on the progress with Amanda Silver.

Posted on July 13, 2006 at 09:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Well isn't that a good idea

An inflatable space station.  It makes a shocking amount of sense. And what do you know, someone other than NASA thought of it.

Posted on July 13, 2006 at 09:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 06, 2006

VW: Drivers no longer wanted

Volkswagon has a prototype car which can drive itself at speeds of up to 150 MPH.

Posted on July 6, 2006 at 08:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)