How to Fix the Potential Windows Update Database Error

Potential Windows Update Database error is detected by the Windows Update Troubleshooter in some cases where your Windows Update fails to install. You might also experience slow internet connection and bad computer performance – while the Potential Windows Update Database error is unresolved, your computer might repeatedly try to download and install the update, which consumes a lot of resources.

The potential solutions for the Potential Windows Update Database error include quitting unnecessary programs, repairing corrupted files, and delaying the update (or stopping your computer from downloading it).

Potential Windows Update Database error

Potential Windows Update Database error by Windows Update Troubleshooter

If you had problems installing Windows updates, you might have used Windows Update Troubleshooter. It might have displayed the error “Potential Windows Update Database error detected”. You might try to fix it and get the result that it’s “Not fixed”, despite being “Completed”.

You might also see an entry called “Potential Windows Update Database Corruption”.

If you haven’t already, check out this walkthrough by Microsoft on fixing Windows Update errors. This is where the troubleshooter is downloaded from. This guide is quite extensive and I recommend following it.

My goal is to collect the most common and likely fixes in this post, so I will often link for more specific instructions.

The thing with Microsoft’s guides is that they’re sometimes redundant but not all versions give you enough detail. For example, that guide that I linked – I recommend reading the Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 version even if you have Windows 10. The Windows 10 guide is also worth reading, of course. But the Windows 7 version has additional details.

How to fix it

So, once you know the problem, “Potential Windows Update Database error”, how to fix it?

Windows Update errors are caused by a variety of issues from incorrect date and time to corrupt system files. And with the many Windows PC configurations, these errors are almost inevitable. There is no single solution that fits everyone. But there are a few things that you can try to fix your updates and solve the Potential Windows Update Database error.

You will need an administrator account for this.

You should also make a restore point before proceeding.

Potential Windows Update Database error detected by Windows Update Troubleshooter.

Quit third-party programs

The Potential Windows Update Database error could be caused by third-party software conflicts. Disable third-party antivirus programs (if you have any) temporarily and don’t do any risky browsing meanwhile.

If that doesn’t help, disable service and startup programs by performing a clean boot ( Clean booting means stopping unnecessary programs and services from running. You will need to undo these changes later.

Scan and fix system files

The Potential Windows Update Database error might be solved by tools that Microsoft made for fixing corrupted system files.

Have you tried running System File Checker and the DISM tool? You might be familiar with the sfc /scannow command. You can run it in the Administrator Command Prompt.

  1. From Start , search for cmd
  2. Right-click Command Prompt from the results and choose Run as Administrator
  3. At the Command Prompt, type the following commands one at a time. After each, press Enter. Let the command complete before typing the next command.

It’s not that simple, of course. The guide on is quite extensive and does consider what you should do if your Windows Update is broken and if you’re still getting the Potential Windows Update Database error.

In addition, here is a quote from the walkthrough by Microsoft that I linked earlier – type in these commands into your Command Prompt:

net stop bits

net stop wuauserv

ren %systemroot%\softwaredistribution softwaredistribution.bak

ren %systemroot%\system32\catroot2 catroot2.bak

net start bits

net start wuauserv

Reboot your computer, then try updating again.

“ren” means rename. The “bak” extension is usually used to denote backup files and folders. Basically, by renaming the folders, it’s as if you’re deleting them and forcing your computer to make new ones.

Most importantly, check the guide’s Windows 7 version for this. Be very careful and follow the guide because these are system folders and one wrong step could have really bad consequences.

Delay the update

You can delay the update. Maybe the problem in on Microsoft’s end and the Potential Windows Update Database error will get fixed later.

Windows 10 Pro allows for updates to be delayed in Windows Update settings. Click on Start -> Settings (the gear icon) -> Update & Security -> Advanced options. There, you can pause your updates.

Windows 10 Home doesn’t have this setting, but you can use the metered connection trick ( to stop Windows from downloading updates.

Remember that this is not a suitable long-term solution. The Potential Windows Update Database error can be very frustrating, however, it’s important to solve it.

Computers that are behind in updates are vulnerable to security exploits. There are usually known security flaws in outdated Windows that, if the new update isn’t installed, may be exploited by malicious websites to automatically download malware. Not to mention, Windows updates bring new device drivers and new features.

Reset Windows

If none of the above helped you solve Potential Windows Update Database error, you can also reset your Windows PC (

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