How to fix “We couldn’t connect to the update service” Windows update error?

Question

Issue: How to fix “We couldn’t connect to the update service” Windows update error?

Hello, I have a problem with Windows updates. I launched the OS update, and instead, I received an error “We couldn't connect to the update service.” I find this odd because, obviously, the internet works fine. Any help would be appreciated.

Solved Answer

Users have reported Windows update problems since its very release in 2015, and it seems like to this day, the problem prevails. Considering how important Microsoft's new patches are (they fix bugs, patch vulnerabilities) for the overall security of the device, it is important that problems like “We couldn't connect to the update service” are fixed as soon as possible.

“We couldn't connect to the update service” is an error that can occur at any time on Windows 10 or Windows 8 machines. What matters the most is that the process is interrupted at some point, and users are unable to patch their machines with the latest updates. Instead, they receive the following message:

Windows Update
Error encountered

“We couldn't connect to the update service. We'll try again later, or you can check now. If it still doesn't work, make sure you're connected to the Internet.

Even though the tip suggests users should check their internet, it is rarely the cause of the error, as many users reported that their connection works fine when browsing the web via the browser or using programs that require the internet.

Previously, Microsoft announced[1] that its servers suffered an outage that affected users' ability to download updates, causing the “We couldn't connect to the update service” error to thousands. While the tech giant managed to resolve the problem at the time, it does not mean that it is nonexistent today.

How to fix "We couldn't connect to the update service" Windows update error?

There could be several reasons why the error might occur for a number of different users. It could be caused by:

  • Windows services not running
  • System file corruption
  • Malware infection that disables Windows update
  • Wrong DNS settings, etc.

Thus, there is no universal way to fix “We couldn't connect to the update service,” and you will have to try several methods below before one of them works for you.

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Method 1. Change DNS settings

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Since Microsoft announced that the server outage was related to DNS[3] service provider's outage, we recommend you switch your DNS to Google's and try downloading the updates again.

  • Right-click on Start button and pick Settings
  • Go to Network & Internet Go to Windows Settings
  • Select Change adapter options
  • Right-click on your main connection (for example, Ethernet) and pick Properties Go to Ethernet properties
  • Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) by clicking on it once and select Properties
  • Tick the Use the following DNS server addresses and type in the following:

    Preferred DNS server: 8.8.8.8
    Alternate DNS server: 8.8.8.9

    Use Google's DNS

Method 2. Run Windows update and network connection troubleshooters

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Troubleshooters can explain why something is not working as intended. Since the issue might be related to internet connection stability, we recommend running the following troubleshooters:

  • Right-click on Start and pick Settings
  • Go to Update & Security
  • Click Troubleshoot on the left
  • If you can't see troubleshooters on the right, click Additional troubleshooters
  • From the list, click on Windows Update and then select Run the troubleshooter Run Windows Update Troubleshooter
  • After it is done, go back to Settings section and select Network & Internet
  • On the right side, scroll down to Advanced Network Settings
  • Click Network troubleshooter, select All network adapters and click Next. Run network troubleshooter

Method 3. Repair damaged system files via Command Prompt

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System File Checker can find and eliminate system file integrity violations. To run it, you need to open Command Prompt as administrator:

  • Type in cmd in Windows search
  • Right-click on Command Prompt result and select Run as administrator
  • In the new window, type in sfc /scannow and press Enter Run SFC scan
  • Let the scan run – Windows will report results
  • Reboot your PC and try running the update again.

Method 4. Scan your system for malware

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Malware is known to impact Windows functions and might sometimes straight out prevent it from operating properly. Therefore, you should ensure that no malware is present on your machine. For that, you can use a third-party application or employ the built-in Windows Defender. If you choose the latter, make sure you go to Scan options and pick the Microsoft Defender Offline scan option (this will reboot your PC, so be ready).

Scan PC for malware

Method 5. Reset Windows update components

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  • Open Command Prompt as administrator
  • Paste in the following commands, pressing Enter after each:

    net stop bits
    net stop wuauserv
    net stop appidsvc
    net stop cryptsvc

  • Once complete, open File Explorer (Win+E), navigate to the following location and delete all contents there:

    C:\\Windows\\SoftwareDistribution\\Download

    Delete SoftwareDistribution folder

  • Next, open Command Prompt once again – it should still be open from before
  • Paste in the following commands, pressing Enter after each:

    net start bits
    net start wuauserv
    net start appidsvc
    net start cryptsvc

Method 6. Ensure you have enough free space

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Windows updates might take a lot of space, and, obviously, if there is not enough of it on your hard drive/SSD, the update will simply fail. Thus, you should clean junk and temp files with tools like ReimageMac Washing Machine X9 or employ the built-in Disk Cleanup utility:

  • Type in Disk Cleanup in Windows search and press Enter
  • Select your main drive where Windows are installed (C: by default)
  • Select all the sections you want leftover files to be deleted from (for example, Temporary Internet files, Recycle Bin, Temporary files, etc.) and press OK. Perform Disk Cleanup

Note: you can also clean System files by clicking Clean up system files and selecting relevant components as explained above.

Method 7. Install Windows update manually

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To repair damaged system, you have to purchase the licensed version of Reimage Reimage.
  • Type in Windows Update in Windows search and press Enter
  • Select View Update History View update history
  • Check the latest KB number there
  • Now go to Microsoft Update Catalog page, type in the noted KB number and press Search
  • Select the correct version for your operating system and click Download
  • Once downloaded, launch the installer as you do with any application on Windows and proceed with on-screen instructions.

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About the author
Jake Doe
Jake Doe - Computer technology geek

Jake Doe is the news editor at UGetFix. Since he met Ugnius Kiguolis in 2003, they both launched several projects that spread awareness about cybercrimes, malware, and other computer-related problems.

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