SOLUTION: Windows Update cannot currently check for updates, because the service is not running.

A common problem following the replacement of a hard drive (or other low-level storage-related change, such as a storage driver or interface change) is a broken Windows Update.  I’ve been seeing this more and more frequently, in fact, on Windows 7 machines after performing drive recoveries and installing a new drive.

The exact message is:

Windows Update cannot currently check for updates, because the service is not running.  You may need to restart your computer.

While lots of solutions are offered across the internet for this problem, ultimately, it’s actually relatively simple: the storage driver is frequently to blame.  Specifically, the Intel storage driver (generally iaStor.sys), which comes as a part of the Intel Matrix Storage Manager package (renamed to Intel Rapid Storage Technology on later versions of Windows).

It’s been documented in other places as well that this is in fact the root of the problem.

Problem is, there are different versions of the Intel Matrix Storage Manager for each manufacturer — so it isn’t always possible to simply download the latest version directly from Intel and install it.

The HP version of that driver is listed above, and it will indeed work for many systems in question.  For other manufacturers, it’s best to search for the driver manually and download it directly from the PC manufacturer’s web site.  You can use search terms such as:

intel rapid storage technology driver ich10r vista 32-bit

To locate a suitable version for your particular situation.

If this still does not correct your issue, you may need to follow up the driver upgrade with a reset of the Windows Update repository:

  1. Open an elevated Command Prompt (Run as Administrator).
  2. Type the following commands (pressing ENTER after each one):
    1. net stop wuauserv
    2. net stop bits
  3. Open a Windows Explorer window and navigate to %WINDIR% (e.g., normally C:\Windows).
  4. Rename SoftwareDistribution to SoftwareDistribution.old.
  5. Return to the elevated Command Prompt and type these commands:
    1. net start wuauserv
    2. net start bits

This procedure has corrected the problem on all of the PCs where I’ve encountered it thus far.

SOLUTION: Recover/import Windows Live Mail Contacts to new computer

So today I was tasked with recovering a client’s contacts stored in a Windows Live Mail edb database for the first time.  At first, it seemed like a daunting task–primarily because I could not get a (previously) popular solution involving the now-deprecated EseDbViewer to work.  That’s because, as I later discovered, the process must be performed on the original PC in order for it to work; if you try it using the recovered files on another machine, it simply fails.

Update: A reader, Chris Siddons, has posted an alternate method to accomplish this for those with a great number of contacts.  Feedback indicates that it works quite well.  Thanks, Chris!  Here is his method:

1) On my old PC, I Located the folder “C:\Users\{Username}\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live\Contacts\Default” (obviously, replacing your user name as appropriate)

2) I copied the entire contents of this folder to a temporary location (memory stick, or another way of transferring the data to the new PC.

(NB This folder contains three folders, 15.4 15.5 and W4CR1, which appear to be empty but contain various hidden folders and files, including several versions of contacts.edb, so you may appear to be copying empty folders, but don’t worry about this, just follow these instructions as they worked for me!)

3) I located the folder “C:\Users\{Username}\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows ive\Contacts\Default” on the new PC and deleted the contents, then replaced them with the contents of the Default folder from the old PC.

Following is the remainder of the original blog entry:

Fortunately, as is usually the case, there is another way around this problem, and it’s actually quite easy.  The goal is to get the contacts from the edb into a readable .csv (Comma Separated Values) file for import into Windows Live Mail.  And a company known as Nirsoft (who makes a number of helpful tools, often of forensic nature) has a program that works perfectly.

It’s called LiveContactsView, and it’s designed for viewing Windows Live Messenger contacts.  However, Windows Live Mail uses the same format for storing its contacts, so it works here, too.

Here’s the full process:

  1. Download LiveContactsView.
  2. Recover the original Windows Live Mail contacts database files from the failed PC/original drive:
    • They’re located in %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows Live Contacts\{GUID}\DBStore, where %LOCALAPPDATA% is an environment variable equivalent to \Users\{USERNAME}\AppData\Local\ on the drive, and {GUID} is a random string assigned to the original user’s profile.
  3. Using LiveContactsView, open the contacts.edb file from the DBStore folder.
  4. Select all fields within the list view.
  5. Export the items to a .csv file.
  6. Import the .csv file into the mail client of your choice.

That’s it!  It’s actually remarkably simple, and it is the best (and only) method I’ve found to accomplish this to date.