Help! Windows Update Won’t Work After Vista Install

Having installed and reinstalled Windows Vista half a dozen times or so in the last month, it’s finally dawned on me that there’s a clean-up, post-installation step that Microsoft has not documented as an explicit part of that process. The symptoms of the problem that this step addresses are straightforward: when you run Windows Update, and use its Check for updates left-hand menu option, instead of getting the typical “Windows is Up to date” status window showing in the next screenshot, you get an error message that reads “Windows Update error 87002EE2: Unable to access Windows Update!”

Typical, OK status from Windows Update

¬†When Windows Update checks succeed, you get this screen. When they don’t, you get a red/pink status bar with a red X, and an error message instead.

If you use the help link that appears as part of the error message help information, it tells you to check your firewall to make sure sure access to Windows Update is allowed to pass through, and also makes mention of three sets of Web URLs that should be granted unfettered Internet access:

  • http://*.update.microsoft.com
  • https://*.update.microsoft.com
  • http://download.windowsupdate.com

In every case where this error has occurred on Vista installations I’ve completed, however, Internet Explorer has been the culprit, not my firewall. Because the firewall in question has included the built-in Windows Firewall, Comodo Firewall, Agnitum OutPost Pro firewall, and the PC Tools Firewall, all of which have been happy to let Windows Update do its thing, I have concluded the firewall is rather more likely NOT to be at fault, rather than the other way ’round. Microsoft doesn’t entirely agree, as you can see in their coverage of error code 80072EE2 in their Help and Support pages.

But having now gone through this exercise repeatedly in the past month, with the same results every time, I’ll simply cut to the chase and tell you what worked for me. The aforementioned list of URLs did the trick, all right, but not in a Firewall exclusion or allowed URL list.

Instead, these strings get Windows update working when you perform the following actions inside Internet Explorer 7:

    1. Click Tools, Internet Options, Security tab, then click the green Trusted sites icon in the security zone list.

 

Click on Trusted sites icon
Click on the Trusted Sites icon in the Security Zones pane to manage assignments.

 

  • Click the Sites button at the right, just below the Zone icon pane.

 

 

The Trusted Sites window lets you add more sites to IE's list
Add more trusted sites here, and be sure to uncheck the “https: required” checkbox beneath the site list, too.

 

  • Add the aforementioned Windows Update URLs to the Trusted Sites listing (type or paste each URL into the textbox, then click the Add button to the right; repeat for each of the three URLs mentioned)

 

 

Trusted sites list, with Windows Update items added.
Trusted sites list, after Windows Update items are added.

 

  • Click Close to close the Trusted Sites list window.
  • Click OK to close the Internet Options window, and apply your changes
  • Try Windows Update again; it should work this time.

 

Of course, for those who don’t aleady know it, Windows Update works exclusively with Internet Explorer. Thus, it makes perfect sense that an IE problem could also prevent Windows Update from working properly. All I know is that this fix is in, and now things are working OK for me. Hopefully, they’ll also do the trick for you!

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