Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Windows update problems with Vista service pack 1, error 80070026

I tried helping someone out who was having issues installing Vista SP1 on her laptop (Vista Home Premium). I had heard stories of problems, but haven't had any myself on the machines I've installed it on many computers already so I thought it would be pretty easy to take care of. Wrong! I had to deal with Microsoft support, which is providing free support for this problem until June 30th, 2009. If you want to jump right to that, you can go to http://support.microsoft.com/oas/default.aspx?prid=11274&gprid=500921. Anyway, on to the issue...

Upon attempting to install Vista's service pack 1, I kept getting an error code of 80070026. After guessing Conficker, then other spyware, and just about everything else, I took a step back. I popped the hard drive out of the laptop and into my desktop so I could run a chkdsk /r, and also another virus scan. Neither helped, so I turned to the free support option. 

The support agent guessed a corrupt .NET Framework installation, but after cleaning the .NET installations with a handy tool from www.pcsafety.us, we tried installing the latest version only to encounter another error. This is when the agent suggested using the in-place upgrade feature of Vista. I hadn't heard of this before, and was pleasantly surprised.

The in-place upgrade will reinstall your system files, but leave your files and applications intact. Yes, I was skeptical too, but I ended up having no issues with it. I still suggest backing up any files you want to save prior to doing anything with your operating system though.

The first thing I had to do was disable my startup programs and services. You can do this by going to Start->Run, then typing in "msconfig" and pressing Enter. If you don't have the Run option, you can either add it by customizing you Start menu, or go to the command prompt (Start->All Programs->Accessories->Command Prompt) and enter "msconfig" there instead. This will bring up the Microsoft system configuration utility. Go to the Services tab, check the box to Hide all Microsoft Services, then click on Disable All. Then go to the Startup tab and click on Disable All. Now click Apply, then OK. You will be prompted to restart, which is fine. Go ahead and restart the computer. After the upgrade, you will need to go back into the msconfig tool to reenable these services and programs.

After restarting, put in the Vista installation CD/DVD. One thing to note is that you MUST use installation media containing the same version of Vista that you already have installed. As an example, in my case the laptop had Vista Home Premium, so I had to use a Vista Home Premium install disc. Mismatched versions will not give you the upgrade option. Once the disc is inserted, start the Vista installation procedure if it doesn't start automatically. Here you'll see two options, one of which is upgrade. It will explain that the upgrade will not harm your files or applications, but only reinstall the Windows system files. Follow that path. The rest is pretty simple, and mainly is just a matter of clicking Next or Continue. However, the in-place upgrade will wipe out any updates installed prior to it, so once the upgrade has completed, make sure to run Windows Updates until you have all of the latest patches installed. I had to go through Windows Update a few times before it had everything, but it didn't give me any issues this time around. Service pack 1 was installated without any problems either. The only thing left after this is to go back into "msconfig" and reenable your Startup programs, and your Services. After you've done that, restart, and the pain of not being to update your Vista machine should be gone.

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