• The Windows-Update-takes-forever problem

    Just got an interesting message from reader NC:

    I’ve been reading about people claiming their Windows Updates on Win 7 systems are now taking hours and even days.

    I decided to do an experiment.

    I’ve just now done a Windows update operation on a Win 7 x64 Ultimate test VM that was mostly up to date, and while I didn’t wait hours, I logged some 25 minutes of svchost core time just to get to the point where the list of available updates showed.  Half an hour to wait!

    I hid several updates (notably NOT including the latest update to the Windows Update process itself) and entered the “Downloading updates…” phase, where it sat for an additional half hour.

    What’s special about all this?  I’m watching CPU, disk, network, and DNS activity, and doing screen grabs.

    For the lion’s share of the time both before and after seeing the list there’s absolutely nothing happening except a tight loop on one core in a svchost.exe process. NOTHING.  I saw DNS entries resolved then half an hour of tight loop before being able to see the updates.  Then, an additional 25+ minutes of tight loop time was actually chewed up before any downloads/installs started to happen.  The last server name before the tight loop that was resolved to an address wasctldl.windowsupdate.com, and the first one after wasdownload.windowsupdate.com.

    This must be intentional.   It must be intended to aggravate or penalize people who do updates manually, and make people with older systems – worst, those with 1 core – suffer the most.  My Xeon-based workstation is stupid fast, so waiting through 45 minutes of tight loop CPU time before even seeing the updates is an amazing, incredible, gargantuan waste of resources.  During that time there was no significant disk activity at all, and none of what little there was didn’t seem related to anything to do with Windows Update!

    I can’t help but think others would call this “tin foil hat” stuff, but by gosh we’ve been doing updates a long time.  I don’t know about you but I’m so familiar with how my systems run that I can easily tell if something’s not right.

    And something most certainly is not right with this!

    Slow updatesSome things to note in the attached screen grab:

    • 51 minutes CPU time for svchost.exe.
    • Solid 25% svchost.exe CPU usage (1 core of the 4 I have allocated to the VM).
    • 0 KB/sec Disk I/O in Resource Monitor

    What are your thoughts?  I think this may deserve more attention.