Solve problems with Apple Software Update on Windows

Get Apple Software Update working again with these tips

Do you have a problem with Apple Software Update? Do you get an error message: “The Apple Software Update server could not be found.” Here is how to solve the problem.

Helping hand

There are a couple of reasons why you might have Apple Software Update on your Windows PC and one is because you have iTunes, QuickTime and other Apple software on the computer.

Download and install iTunes for example, and it bundles several applications and services that are all installed whether you want them or not.

Another reason for having Apple Software Update on your computer is if you run Windows on an Apple Mac. If you have used Boot Camp to install Windows on your MacBook of iMac then Apple Software Update is installed to keep the drivers and tools up to date.

Sometimes, for no apparent reason, Apple Software Update stops working for some people and it cannot access the update server.

It tells you to check your internet settings and to try again, but there is nothing wrong with the internet connection and every other internet app, like web browsers, email and so on, works perfectly. The fault is just with Apple Software Update.

I had this problem recently on a MacBook Pro with Windows 10 installed using Boot Camp. It has been working fine for months and then one day when I tried checking for updates it reported that the update server could not be found.

 Apple Software Update error

There isn’t a single solution to this problem and you will just have to try everything below and see if any of it makes a difference.

Check the Hosts file

A file called hosts in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc can be used to block access to certain sites and online services, or to redirect them. You should check that it hasn’t been modified.

Open it in Notepad or other plain text editor. One way to do this is to double click the hosts file. Windows will report that no program is associated with it, but then you have an opportunity to select the program to choose. Select Notepad.

You can also run Notepad and use File, Open, but click where it says Text documents (.txt) and select All Files (.*) or you won’t see hosts.

The default for the hosts file is to do nothing. Every line in the file starts with a # and this is used to indicate a comment that is to be ignored. Here is an example:

# localhost name resolution is handled within DNS itself.
# 127.0.0.1 localhost

Those lines are comments because they start with a #. Any lines that don’t start will a # are suspect. Sometimes malware adds lines to redirect you to websites containing more malware, sometimes security software adds lines to stop you going to websites with malware. If you don’t know what a line does, put a # at the start so it is ignored.

My hosts file was fine, so this did not help at all, but it is worth checking.

Disable the firewall

A firewall is a security program that monitors incoming and outgoing network and internet activity. It can be set to block programs or access to websites and services. It should not block Apple Software Update, but it is worth turning off the firewall and seeing if it makes a difference.

Click Start (Windows 7) or right click Start (Windows 8, 10) and select Control Panel. Set the view to small icons in the upper right corner, and click Windows Firewall. On the left, click Turn Windows Firewall on or off. Select Turn off Windows Firewall for both private and public network settings.

 Windows Firewall

Some security software has a built in firewall that replaces Windows Firewall. Check that the firewall is off in the security software. Every security program is different, so you’ll have to work this out yourself.

Disabling the firewall did not help in my case and Apple Software Update still refused to work.

Uninstall security software

The security software on the computer could be interfering with Apple Software Update. Usually there is an option to turn it off. At the right side of the taskbar is a little up arrow (^). Click it, right click the security software icon and often there is a menu with an option to disable the security. Try it.

It did not help in my case, so I uninstalled the security software completely using Programs and Features in the Control Panel. That made no difference either. Still, it was worth trying and it has helped some people.

Install iTunes

If you don’t have iTunes on the computer, go to the iTunes download page and grab a copy. Double click it in the downloads folder to install it. Some people have found that installing iTunes for older video cards solves the Apple Software Update problem. This is an alternative version that is more compatible with older hardware.

 Install iTunes

If you already have iTunes on the computer, it would be a good idea to remove it. This is not as simple as you think and you should use the instructions on the Apple Support page. Reboot the PC and then download and install a fresh copy of iTunes.

Uninstalling iTunes does not remove your music, just the software, so when you reinstall it your music is still there.

This did not help in my case, but some people have found that it solves the Apple Software Update problem.

Restore an older version of Apple Software Update

It has helped some people to revert to an older version of Apple Software Update, but how do you do this?

What I did was to go to the Control Panel and uninstall Apple Software Update using Programs and features. As I was running Boot Camp on my Mac I downloaded the Boot Camp Support Software.

After extracting the files from the zip archive, go to the BootCamp/Drivers/Apple folder and run AppleSoftwareUpdate.msi. It installed an older version of Apple Software Update.

 Apple Boot Camp

Once again, this did not help and Apple Software Update did not work.

However, when I booted Windows the next day Apple Software Update was fine. It now works and it offers the latest version of the software. There is a saying, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, so I might just stick with this older version of the program.

I don’t know which of these fixes actually fixed the problem. Maybe it would have fixed itself and started working the next day anyway. Who knows. At least it is now working.


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12 Comments on Solve problems with Apple Software Update on Windows

  1. Also try going to Internet Options in the control panel, go to advanced tab, and uncheck ‘do not save encrypted pages to disk.’ That fixed my problem.

    • Thanks so much that worked instantly for me without even any need to reboot either. Much appreciated. I use Windows 10 with all latest updates and was using iTunes 12.3.2 as had not been able to update it for some time now. It is currently now downloading the latest 12.4.3 update as I type and then I am sure it will update successfully as it always used to. So is there any dangers in saving encrypted pages to disk ??
      Yes it has now installed okay and just have to restart my PC. Once again a big thumbs up, well discovered.

      • This worked for me too, thank you very much. I too have been using iTunes 12.3.2 so maybe it’s something to do with this specific version of it. Regardless, it’s downloading now, and you can always just re-check the box in Internet Settings if you get paranoid – I probably will.

      • Worked for me too. So simple after all the things I have looked at.

    • So am I.
      Thank you very much, I searched for months…

    • @Ford This worked for me, Thanks.

  2. Edward Wild // 2016/09/14 at 22:22 // Reply

    Thanks so much worked a treat.

  3. Do not save encrypted pages to disk in Internet options in control panel FIXED my problem. Awesome.

  4. Richard Ryder // 2016/09/18 at 17:52 // Reply

    Do not save encrypted pages to disk in Internet options in control panel also FIXED my problem. I’d also recommend that you turn the option back on after doing the update.

  5. I just tried it and it worked beautifully. Thanks for the easiest of tips for a very annoying problem

  6. Download Apple Software // 2016/10/08 at 08:19 // Reply

    Another reason for having Apple Software Update on your computer is if you run Windows on an Apple Mac. If you have used Boot Camp to install Windows then Apple Software Update is installed to keep the drivers and tools updated.

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