How to Fix Windows Update Error Code 0x80070003?

The 0x80070003 error is typically encountered after a pending Windows update fails to install or after an upgrade to Windows 11 is abruptly interrupted by a critical error. This problem is confirmed to occur on both Windows 10 and Windows 11. 

Windows Update Error 0x80070003

After we’ve investigated this particular issue thoroughly, it turns out that there are actually several different underlying causes that might end up causing this error code. Here’s a shortlist of culprits:

  • Common WU inconsistency – As it turns out, one of the most common scenarios that will cause this problem is a scenario in which the reason why you’re experiencing the 0x80070003 error is already covered by a repair strategy included by Microsoft. In this case, all you need to do to fix the issue is to run the Windows Update Troubleshooter and apply the recommended fix. 
  • Corrupted DataStore logs – According to a lot of affected users, you can also expect to encounter this issue in a situation where the Windows log file contains corrupted references that interferes with the process of keeping track of all the installed Windows Updates. In this case, you should be able to resolve the issue by deleting the DataStore.edb file. 
  • Windows Update service is stuck in a limbo state – Unfortunately, both Windows 10 and Windows 11 are plagued by a weird bug where certain services are stuck in a limbo state (neither opened nor closed) which makes the inaccessible during the process of installing a pending update. In this case, you can fix the issue by restarting every necessary service from the Services screen.
  • Corrupted WU dependencies – As it turns out, there are a lot of Windows Update dependencies that could be responsible for the 0x80070003 error if you see it when attempting to install any pending Windows update. If this scenario is applicable, you should first start by resetting the entire Windows Update component.
  • Windows Update component is busted – The WU component can break for various reasons as we’ll establish below. The good news is, that you don’t have to go through the trouble of pinpointing the source of the error if you don’t want to. If you’re just looking for a quick fix that will allow you to install the pending update, you can either do it via the Microsoft Update Catalog, using the Media Creation Tool or by using the Windows Update Assistant.
  • System File corruption – Under certain circumstances, you can expect this issue to occur due to some kind of corruption that is affecting WU system files or associated dependencies. In this case, you should undergo SFC and DISM scans in quick succession or use a System Restore snapshot in case one suitable is available. As a last resort, you can always go for a clean install or repair install procedure. 

Now that we went over every potential scenario that might end up spawning the 0x80070003 error in your case, let’s go over each verified fix in order until you find the method that’s effective in your case.

1. Run the Windows Update Troubleshooter

If you’re encountering problems with Windows Update, and multiple pending WU updates are failing to install with the same 0x80070003 error, we recommend trying running the Windows Update troubleshooter.

If you never used this utility before, the Windows Update Troubleshooter is, is designed to automatically identify and fix common problems. If you’re on Windows 11, you’re in luck as the utility is much more comprehensive than earlier versions. Microsoft has added dozens of new automated repair strategies that can be applied with just a few steps if a recognizable scenario is identified. 

If you haven’t tried this method yet, follow the instructions below to run the Windows Update Troubleshooter and apply the recommended fix automatically:

Note: The steps below will work on every recent interaction of Windows 11, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.

  1. To attempt and fix the Windows Update component, first, open a Run dialog box by pressing the Windows key + R.
  2. Inside the dialog box that just appeared, type ‘control’ inside the text box and press Enter to open up the Control Panel interface.
    Accessing the Control Panel Menu

    Note: You may be prompted by the User Account Control – if so, click Yes to grant admin access.

  3. Once you’re inside the Control Panel window, use the search function to look for ‘troubleshoot’.
  4. From the list of results, click on all the different categories Troubleshooting.

    Accessing the Troubleshooting tab
  5. Once you finally find yourself inside the Troubleshooting tab, go under System and Security and click on Fix problems with Windows Updates.
    Fix Problems with Windows Update
  6. After you get to the first Windows Update Troubleshooter prompt, click Next and wait for the initial scan to finish.
  7. If a viable fix is found, click on Apply this fix to apply it to the recognizable scenario.
    Apply the recommended fix

    Note: Keep in mind that with some types of recommended fixes, you might be required to do a series of manual steps.

  8. After applying the fix successfully, restart your PC and attempt to install the failing update once again.

If the Windows Update still fails to install with the same 0x80070003, move down to the next method below. 

2. Clear the DataStore Folder

There are reports from many users who say they have also seen this issue when the Windows log file has corrupted references. This interferes with the process of keeping track of all installed Windows Updates. To fix this, you’ll need to delete the DataStore.edb file.

If you’re looking for specific instructions on how to do this, we’ve created a step-by-step guide that will walk you through the entire process.

Just follow the instructions below:

  1. First things first, open up File Explorer by pressing the Windows key + E or by clicking on the appropriate icon inside the taskbar. 
  2. Once you’re inside File Explorer, navigate to the following location:
    C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution
  3. Once you’re inside the SoftwareDistribution folder, double-click on DataStore. 
    Accessing the DataStore menu
  4. From the SoftwareDistribution folder, double-click on Download from the list of subfolders. 
  5. Once you’re inside the Download folder, press Ctrl + A to select everything inside, then right-click on a selected item and click on Delete from the context menu. 
  6. After the Download folder of DataStore is completely empty, restart your PC and wait for the next startup to complete.
  7. After your PC boots back up, attempt to install the pending update once again and see if the problem is now fixed.

In case the same issue is still occurring, move down to the next method below. 

3. Restart the main Windows Update Service 

Sadly, both Windows 10 and Windows 11 have a persistent bug where certain services are caught in a limbo state (neither opened nor closed) which makes them inaccessible during the process of installing a pending update.

In this case, you can fix the issue by restarting the main Windows Update service from the Services screen.

Note: This method will only work in a scenario where the main WU service and associated dependencies are not affected by corruption.

For specific instructions on how to restart the main Windows Update service + dependencies by re-registering them via Command Prompt, follow the instructions below:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. 
  2. Next, type ‘cmd’ inside the text box.
  3. Press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up an elevated Command Prompt window with admin access. 
    Open up a CMD prompt
  4. At the User Account Control prompt, click Yes to grant admin access to the CMD Prompt.
  5. Type the following commands in the same order and press Enter after each one to effectively restart and re-register the main Windows Update service:
    net stop wuauserv
    regsvr32 %windir%\system32\wups2.dll
    net start wuauserv
  6. Once every command has been processed successfully, close the elevated Command Prompt and attempt to install the failing update once again.

If the same kind of error is still occurring, move down to the next method below. 

4. Reset the Windows Update component

When investigating the 0x80070003 error message people often see when trying to install a Windows update, it turns out that there are a lot of Windows Update dependencies that could be responsible for the issue.

If this scenario is applicable to you, then the first thing you should try is resetting the entire Windows Update component.

In case you’ve come this far and none of the methods above have fixed the issue in your case, follow the instructions below to effectively reset the following Windows Update dependencies: MSI Installer, Cryptographic services, and BITS services. To make sure we don’t leave behind any corrupted instances, we will also clear the contents of the SoftwareDistribution and Catroot2 folders. 

Here’s what you need to do to enforce this fix:

  1. The first step is to open a Run dialog box by pressing the Windows key and R simultaneously.
  2. After that, type “cmd” into the text box and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open an elevated Command Prompt with admin access.
  3. Keep in mind that you will need to click ‘Yes’ when the User Account Control prompt appears in order to grant administrative privileges.
  4. Once you’re in the elevated Command Prompt, use the following commands (in order) to stop all Windows Update-related services:
    net stop wuauserv
    
    net stop cryptSvc
    
    net stop bits
    
    net stop msiserver

    Note: These commands will effectively stop the Windows Update Services, MSI Installer, Cryptographic services, and BITS services.

  5. After every relevant service has been stopped, you can clear and rename the SoftwareDistribution and Catroot2 folders by using these commands:
    ren C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.old
    ren C:\Windows\System32\catroot2 Catroot2.old

    Note: These two very important folders store updated files used by the WU component. Renaming these folders will force your OS to create new healthy equivalents that will not be affected by corruption.

  6. Now that the folders have been cleared, run the following commands to re-enable the services we disabled earlier:
    net start wuauserv
    net start cryptSvc
    net start bits
  7. Restart your PC one final time and see if the 0x80070003 error has been eliminated.

If the same kind of issue is still occurring, move down to the next method below.

5. Install the pending update manually

If the Windows Update component is not working correctly and the WU Troubleshooter cannot fix it, you can try installing the failing update manually by using the Microsoft Update Catalog.

This directory can be used to download the compatible update version that is failing on your PC, and then install it manually with the .ini file.

Note: It’s important to understand that this method will not fix the root cause of the issue (in case the 0x80070003 error appears due to some kind of corruption affecting the Windows Update component). However, it will allow you to bypass a corrupted Windows Update by allowing you to bypass the download and utilize external mirrors from MUC.

For specific instructions on how to install a pending Windows update manually, follow the steps below:

  1. Start by visiting the home page of the Microsoft Update Catalog (MUC) directory in your preferred browser.
  2. In the MUC root directory, use the search function to look for the update that’s failing in your particular case (for example KB5005188).
    Install the failing update
  3. When the results come up, go through them and choose the appropriate update versions that you need to install, taking into account your current OS architecture and the Windows versions you’re using.
    Download and install the correct update via MUC
  4. Once you know which update is compatible with your machine, click on the Download button next to the correct driver.
  5. After the download is finally done, open File Explorer and navigate to the folder where the update was downloaded (most likely in the Download folder).
  6. After you’re inside the right folder, find the .ini file and right-click it before clicking Install from the context menu.
    Install the update from the ini file
  7. Follow the remaining directions on the screen to finish installing the Windows Update that was failing to install previously.
  8. Restart your PC one final time and see if the problem is now fixed. 

If the issue is still not fixed as you’re seeing the 0x80070003 even when attempting to install the pending update using the Microsoft Update Catalog, move down to the next method below. 

6. Bring Your Windows up to date using Windows Update Assistant

If using the Microsoft Update Catalog didn’t allow you to install the pending update, a different route you can take is by using the Windows Update Assistant. This is an external tool that you can download and use to bring your Windows up to date.

Important: If you have Windows 10 and you use this tool, you will be eventually upgraded all the way to the latest build of Windows 11. 

The main difference between this tool and the native way of installing the pending updates is that both the download and the installation parts are ‘outsourced’ on an MS server.

Follow the instructions below to force the installation of the pending updates via the Windows Update assistant:

  1. Start by opening up any browser and visit the official download page of Windows
  2. Once you get to the correct page, click on the Update now button under (Windows 10).
    Update Now
  3. Wait until the download is complete, then right-click on the executable that you’ve just downloaded and click on Run as Administrator.
  4. At the confirmation prompt, click on Yes to grant admin privileges.  
  5. Once you’ve successfully opened the Windows Update Assistant, click on the Update Now button and wait until the update is downloaded. 
    Install the latest update available via Windows Update
  6. Once the download is complete, you will be asked to restart your PC in order to allow the update to install.
  7. Once your PC restarts you will see a “Finishing Up’ window as the installation of the pending update is complete. 

If the steps above we’re interrupted at some point by the 0x80070003 error (or a different one), try the next method below. 

7. Bring Your Windows up to date using Media Creation Tool

If the method above was a bust too, a final way to bypass the local Windows Update component is to use the Media Creation Tool.

Keep in mind that we won’t be using it to clean install your current Windows version. Instead, we will perform an ‘upgrade’ which will essentially look for any missing update and install it in order to bring your windows built up to date.

Note: Out of all the methods of bypassing the local WU component featured so far, this method has the highest probability of success since no local service is used because everything is handled externally. 

Follow the instructions below to update your Windows version to the latest via the Media Creation tool:

  1. Open any browser and visit the official download page of Windows
  2. Once you arrive at the correct page, click on the Download button (under Create Windows 10 installation media).
    Downloading the latest version of the media creation tool
  3. Once the executable of the tool is downloaded locally, double-click on it and click Yes at the UAC (User Account Control) prompt. 
  4. Accept the Terms of Service, then select the Upgrade this PC now toggle before clicking on Next. 
    Upgrading this PC
  5. Wait for all the downloads to finish, then choose to Keep everything in order to ensure that you aren’t clean installing. 
  6. Follow the remaining instructions to complete the upgrade operation, then restart your PC and see if the problem is now fixed. 

If you’re still experiencing the 0x80070003 error during the updating process or something else interrupts the upgrading, move down to the next method below. 

8. Deploy SFC and DISM Scans

The error code 0x80070003 is a common error that can occur when there’s an inconsistency due to corruption affecting Windows Update or an associated dependency.

Most of the time, this error is caused by a damaged system file that’s preventing the auto-updating feature from working correctly.

If this sounds familiar, the first thing you should do is run a few scans using the built-in System File Checker (SFC) and Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tools.

While SFC and DISM have their similarities, we recommend running both scans one after the other for the best chance of fixing any corrupted system files.

If this applies to you, begin with a basic SFC scan.

Performing an SFC scan

Note: Keep in mind that this tool only works locally and won’t require an internet connection.

Once you start the SFC scan, it’s important that you don’t close the CMD window, even if the scan appears to be frozen. Wait patiently until the process finishes, as interrupting it may cause logical errors on your hard drive or SSD.

After the SFC scan is complete, reboot your computer and check if the issue has been fixed once the startup is finished.

If you’re still seeing the 0x80070003 error when trying to run the Windows Update Troubleshooter, try running a DISM scan next and follow the on-screen prompts to finish up.

Deploying a DISM scan

Important: One key difference between SFC and DISM is that DISM uses a sub-component of Windows Update to download healthy equivalents of any corrupted system files it finds. Because of this, you need to make sure you have a stable internet connection before beginning this operation.

After the DISM scan is successful, restart your computer once again and see if that has fixed the 0x80070003 error. If not, move on to the next potential fix below.”

9. Using the System Restore

If you’re still unable to install certain pending Windows Updates, you can try reverting your machine to a previous system restore point. This has helped some users fix the issue.

Note: System Restore is a feature in Microsoft Windows that allows you to revert your computer’s state back to a previous point in time. This can be used to recover from system malfunctions or other problems.

The only requirement of this method is to have a previously created snapshot that the utility can use to revert your PC back to a state in which this error was not occurring. Unless you modified the default behavior of System Restore, your PC should be configured to create these snapshots at important system events (you should have plenty of snapshots to choose from).

Follow the instructions below to revert your PC back to a healthy state:

  1. The Windows key + R shortcut opens the Run command.
  2. In the Run box, type “rstrui” and hit Enter to open System Restore. 
    Deploying a System Restore
  3. At the next screen, select Choose a different restore point and hit Next.

    Deploy a system restore
  4. Choose a Restore Point from before you started experiencing high resource usage, and hit Next again.
  5. Hit Finish to start the restoring process, and wait for your PC to restart.
  6. At the next startup, try installing the same update that was failing with the 0x80070003 error.
  7. See if the problem is now fixed.

If you’re still experiencing the same issue, move down to the final potential fix below. 

10. Deploy a Clean Install or Repair install

If you haven’t had any success so far, it’s likely because you’re dealing with some kind of inconsistency that can’t be fixed in a conventional way.

There are thousands of potential reasons for this problem since system files are so intertwined, so the best option would be to refresh all Windows files – this ‘nuclear option’ will effectively replace any corrupted Windows Update dependencies with healthy ones.

When it comes to doing this, there are two available options:

  • Repair install (in-place repair) – This procedure only touches your system files and leaves everything else intact. This should be your first approach if you have essential personal data that you can’t afford to lose. But keep in mind that you’ll need compatible installation media.
  • Clean install – This is the easiest procedure out of the bunch. You can deploy this operation without compatible installation media, but keep in mind that you’ll lose any personal files, documents, and media present on the operating system partition.
Kamil Anwar
Kamil is a certified MCITP, CCNA (W), CCNA (S) and a former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.
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How to Fix Windows Update Error Code 0x80070003?

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