Troubleshooting update issues for Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft Security Essentials works automatically with Microsoft Update to ensure that your virus and spyware definitions are kept up to date.

Symptoms

Here are some common issues with automatic updates:

  • You see error messages indicating that updates have failed.

  • When you check for updates, you receive an error message that the virus and spyware definition updates can't be checked, downloaded, or installed.

  • Even though you're connected to the Internet, the updates fail.

  • Updates don't automatically install as scheduled.

Cause

The most common causes for update issues are problems with Internet connectivity. If you're online, then the issue might be caused by conflicts with your settings in Windows Internet Explorer.

Solution

Important:

You have to exit Internet Explorer to complete these steps. Therefore, print them, write them down, or copy them to another file, and then bookmark this topic for future access.

Step 1: Reset your Internet Explorer settings

  1. Exit all open programs, including Internet Explorer.

    Note:
    Resetting these settings in Internet Explorer deletes your temporary files, cookies, browsing history, and your online passwords. But, your favorites won’t be deleted.

  2. Click Start, and in the Start Search box, type inetcpl.cpl, and then press Enter.

  3. In the Internet Options dialog box, click the Advanced tab.

  4. Under the Reset Internet Explorer settings, click Reset, and then click Reset again.

  5. Wait until Internet Explorer finishes resetting the settings, and then click OK.

  6. Open Internet Explorer.

  7. Open Microsoft Security Essentials, click the Update tab, and then click Update. If the issue persists, go on to the next step.

Step 2: Set Internet Explorer as the default browser

  1. Exit all open programs, including Internet Explorer.

  2. Click Start, and in the Start Search box, type inetcpl.cpl, and then press Enter.

  3. In the Internet Options dialog box, click the Programs tab.

  4. Under Default Web browser, click Make default. Click OK.

  5. Open Microsoft Security Essentials. Click the Update tab, and then click Update. If the issue persists, go on to the next step.

Step 3: Ensure that the date and time are set correctly on your PC

  1. Open Microsoft Security Essentials.

  2. If the error message that you received contains the code 0x80072f8f, the problem is most likely caused by an incorrect date or time setting on your PC.

  3. To reset your PC's date or time setting, follow the steps in Fix broken desktop shortcuts and common system maintenance tasks.

Step 4: Rename the Software Distribution folder on your PC

  1. Stop the Automatic Updates service

    1. Click Start, click Run, type services.msc, and then click OK.

    2. Right-click the Automatic Updates service, and then click Stop.

    3. Minimize the Services snap-in.

  2. If the error message that you received contains the code 0x80072f8f, the problem is most likely caused by an incorrect date or time setting on your PC.

  3. Rename the SoftwareDistribution directory as follows:

    1. Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then click OK.

    2. Type cd %windir%, and then press Enter.

    3. Type ren SoftwareDistribution SDTemp, and then press Enter.

    4. Type exit, and then press Enter.

  4. Start the Automatic Updates service as follows:

    1. Maximize the Services snap-in.

    2. Right-click Automatic Updates service, and then click Start.

    3. Close the Services snap-in window.

Step 5: Reset the Microsoft antivirus update engine on your PC

  1. Click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, and then right-click Command Prompt, and then select Run as administrator.

  2. In the Command Prompt window, type the following commands and press Enter after each command:

    • Cd\

    • Cd program files\microsoft security essentials

    • Mpcmdrun –removedefinitions –all

    • Exit

  3. Restart your PC.

  4. Open Microsoft Security Essentials, click the Update tab, and then click Update. If the issue persists, go on to the next step.

Step 6: Manually install the virus and spyware definition updates

Step 7: Contact support

  • If the steps did not resolve the issue, contact support. For more information, see Customer Support.

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