Friday, September 23, 2016

Windows 7 - fresh install - faster

Anyone who has loaded Windows 7 from scratch has probably found that it can take days for Windows Update to get the system up to date. Most of this time is Windows Update trying to figure out which updates you need, which is probably all 170+ of them.

Even Microsoft has acknowledged this problem. They have started packaging bunches of updates as "rollups" to try to tame the Windows Update problem. But, if you're installing Windows 7 from scratch, the rollups may not work for you. Attempting to install one might result in "this update is not applicable to your computer." #frustration!

This is what worked for me, starting with a refurbished Dell with bare Windows 7 - no service pack installed:
  1. Boot the computer. Check the System control panel to see whether it's 32-bit or 64-bit. Check to see if Service Pack 1 is already installed.
  2. Turn off Windows Update. Go into Windows Update and set it to never check. Turn off optional updates too, just to simplify the problem.
  3. Restart computer to make sure Windows Update is not running.
  4. If the computer doesn't say it's Service Pack 1, install Windows 7 Service Pack 1. It's KB976932, either x86 (500+ MB) or x64 version (900+ MB). It should install pretty quick (15 minutes, more or less) if you run it from the computer's hard drive or SSD. It will restart the computer and announce it's done.
  5. Check Internet Explorer. the base Windows 7 comes with IE8, which Microsoft disavows. Install IE11 using the "live" installer or the offline installer.
  6. Reboot the computer again, just to be sure.
  7. Download KB3020369, the April 2015 servicing stack fix. Install it. This is needed to avoid the "not applicable" problem in the rollup.
  8. Install the latest rollup, for example KB3172605, the July 2016 rollup.
  9. Turn on Windows Update. This will initiate a check for updates.
  10. For me today, it took somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half for Windows Update to find it had to 164 important updates to do. These downloaded and installed at reasonable speed.
All of the above took about 3 hours today. This is much less than the 1.5-3 days it has been taking recently to reload Windows 7.

I hope you have similar or better results.

Thanks to the members of the Oregon Computer Consultants Association and to for help with this sequence.

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