N-central Help

KBA10018: Patch Status service error messages

The SolarWinds N-central agent uses the Microsoft Windows Update Agent (WUA) as a basic component of Patch Management. The WUA scans and monitors for any software or hardware dependencies, keeps track of superseded Windows updates and other issues that need to be resolved before or during a scan and install.

Due to the extensiveness of this operation, the WUA can malfunction during updates. This can be a temporary issue that stalls the software, and the next scan runs without errors. If it is a persistent problem, manual intervention is needed to fix the WUA component.

SolarWinds N-central monitors the health of the WUA component to ensure that there is a smooth patch management process. This monitoring includes a mechanism to install critical WUA updates automatically, a performance enhancement for the WUA scan, and an enhanced WUA status check using a new threshold. Patch Status service reports also include additional information for troubleshooting.

Microsoft is continually improving the WUA component and the update process in Windows. If you encounter an issue with the WUA, use the Microsoft Troubleshooter at https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/10164/fix-windows-update-errors. It walks you through steps to fix problems for common error codes when installing updates.

It is also important to keep the WUA up to date. The Patch Status service displays the installed version of WUA.

For information on the Patch Status service, see the Patch Status service help topic.


SolarWinds N-central displays three common error messages when WUA is not working properly.


This can be an environmental problem. For example, this error can occur when the WUA is having difficulty connecting to the update server. Check your firewall, anti-virus, and proxy setting to ensure that the site http://download.windowsupdate.com is reachable from the device.

For more information on the error codes, see the Windows Update error code list at https://support.microsoft.com/en-ca/help/938205/windows-update-error-code-list.

If this issue persists, see the Generic Error section below.

Timeout error

A timeout error occurs when the WUA does not finish a scan within a predefined amount of time. The default is 30 minutes. The SolarWinds N-central agent forcibly aborts the scan.This can be due to a slow connection, long scan times or resource issues on the device. To resolve this error:

  • Check device resources (CPU, RAM) and update if possible.
  • With older operating systems such as Windows 7, there can be large dependency chain due to a large number of installed patches. A WUA scan can take several hours. Check for existing Service Pack or Cumulative Updates to install the latest updates one at a time.
  • Check for WUA errors in WindowsUpdate.log. For more information, see https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/938205/windows-update-error-code-list.
  • Contact Technical Support to increase the timeout of the agent.
  • The timeout of WUA scan can influence subsequent processes with the SolarWinds N-central agent. You should only increase the timeout duration only after a complete analysis of the environment.

If this issue persists, see the Generic Error section below.

Generic error

For generic errors, use the Microsoft Troubleshooter (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/10164/fix-windows-update-errors) to determine the corrective action.

If errors persist, rename the SoftwareDistribution folder on the device.

Renaming the folder ensures the contents are retained should you need to roll back if you encounter any issues. Deleting the SoftwareDistribution folder contents deletes the history of installed patches and dates with no recourse for recovery.

  1. Click Control Panel > Admin Tools > Services.
  2. Stop the Windows Agent Service service and Windows Agent Maintenance service.
  3. Stop the Automatic Updates service.
  4. Rename (backup) log file C:\windows\windowsupdate.log file to windowsupdate.log.old.
  5. Rename the folder C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution.old.
  6. Click Control Panel > Admin Tools > Services.
  7. Start the Windows Agent Service service and Windows Agent Maintenance service. The Automatic Updates service will be started automatically if needed.

Additional Help

For further help in fixing errors and issues with WUA, see the following Microsoft help articles: