Fixing Windows Update error 8000ffff

One of our Windows 2008 servers threw a wobbly (technical term) after a power cut a few weeks ago, and although I got it working again, it wouldn’t install updates, giving error code 8000ffff each time. The usual searches of the internets suggested a common fault with Vista on Dell machines, but none of the proposed fixes seemed to work.

They included uninstalling an update I didn’t have installed, running a Microsoft “Fix It” tool, which didn’t work, and installing the System Update Readiness Tool, which also didn’t work. The latter actually threw an 8000ffff just running it!

I did manage to sort it in the end, by doing this (after a backup!):

  1. In the registry, HKLM > Components, delete these keys:
    • AdvancedInstallersNeedResolving
    • PendingXmldentifier
    • NextQueueEntryIndex
  2. Stop the Windows Update Service
  3. Rename (or delete – I renamed to be “safe”) %windir%\SoftwareDistribution\DataStore to something else.
  4. Restart the service
  5. Restart the PC.

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