I always check for Windows Updates manually and was worried yesterday when I checked on my main Windows 7 machine to find it crippled. When I clicked on Check for updates, all I kept getting was a pop-up saying 'Windows update cannot currently check for updates, because the service is not running'. Well I checked and the service was running.
This morning I checked our other two Windows 7 machines and got exactly the same result, so it wasn't just my machine at fault. I was all set today to do some major restoration but thought I'd do a google first and it turns out it's all Microsoft's fault. They had left an expired file in the AuthCabs directory which is essential for WU to run and it expired on 3rd December.
If you are suffering from this 'bug' I'm happy to tell you the fix it stupidly easy. Go to Control Panel > Date & Time and set the system date to 01/12/2017. Now WU should load and run ok ... check for updates and download any available. Set your system date back to the current date and WU should remain sorted ... well, until the next time Microsoft screw it up!
Note that if you have to do this, don't print any letters/invoices etc! Make sure you put your time/date back before you do!
I remember posting a fix (on the Microsoft website) when XP got caught in an update infinite loop. All you had to do to avoid it is download the alternative update which worked perfectly. They had just about fixed it when I posted. Happy days
If you add the following servers ntp1.npl.co.uk (in Cumbria) and time.nist.gov (somewhere in the USA; there's lots more too here) to your time servers list, you'll be able to synchronise with these instead if the default Windows server goes down (Microsoft withdrew this service a few years back; it's been resurrected since). Don't worry if you use the American server; it'll automatically give you the right time. This way your computer time should be correct 99.9999% of the time.
To do this on Windows 10, right click on the time at the bottom right of your screen. Then Adjust date/time, followed by Additional date, time & regional settings. Under Date and Time, click the set time and date link, then Internet Time. Then click on change settings.
You should see this:
Type or paste the name of the new time sever and press enter then OK. It's quicker to sync the time using the NPL server IME.