Windows Tip Sheet

Windows Update Woes

The all-too-familiar errors of Windows Update's ways calls for a quick fix.

This is supposed to just work: I point my WinXP computer (same thing happens on Win2003, by the way) at the Microsoft Windows Update Web site (same thing happens with a Windows Software Update Services, or WSUS, server). I try to download and install updates, and get an error: 0x800704DD and 0x80240020. You know what those mean, right?

Ugh. Knowledge Base article 910341 does, and it's a doozy involving the usual warnings about editing the registry. Start by logging onto the computer as a local Admin. Use Runas.exe to run Internet Explorer as a local Admin. Try Windows Update again. If it works, then you need to fix the registry for non-admin users. Open Regedit and find HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\Notify\SensLogn. You need to verify several keys and values:

Key Type Value
Asynchronous DWORD 00000001
Disconnect String SensDisconnectEvent
DLLName String WlNotify.dll
Impersonate DWORD 00000001
Lock String SensLockEvent
Logoff String SensLogoffEvent
Logon StringSensLogonEvent  
MaxWait DWORD 00000258
PostShell String SensPostShellEvent
Reconnect String SensReconnectEvent
Safe DWORD 00000001
Shutdown String SensShutdownEvent
StartScreenSaver String SensStartScreenSaverEvent
StartShell String SensStartShellEvent
Startup String SensStartupEvent
StopScreenSaver String SensStopScreenSaverEvent
Unlock String SensUnlockEvent

This is the sort of that makes you totally lose faith in the registry as a place to store configuration information -- how did this get messed up on my machine? The workaround, by the way (should the above not fix the problem) is to not use the Web site. Seriously. You're supposed to just let Automatic Updates do the work, which is fine, except that it won't download optional updates you may want. So, let's hope the above registry changes fixes things for you.

About the Author

Don Jones is a multiple-year recipient of Microsoft’s MVP Award, and is an Author/Evangelist for video training company Pluralsight. Don is also a co-founder and President of PowerShell.org, a community dedicated to Microsoft’s Windows PowerShell technology. Don has more than two decades of experience in the IT industry, and specializes in the Microsoft business technology platform. He’s the author of more than 50 technology books, an accomplished IT journalist, and a sought-after speaker and instructor at conferences worldwide. Reach Don on Twitter at @concentratedDon, or on Facebook at Facebook.com/ConcentratedDon.

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