How to resolve Windows Update error code 80072EFE on Windows 7?

I recently bought a 2010 Sony Vaio laptop for a video project. The laptop runs Windows 7, and it has a recovery portion. After performing a factory reset, I tried running Windows Update, but all I got in return was error code 80072EFE. It had been many years since I had used Windows 7, but I remembered that on several occasions Microsoft had made critical updates to the Windows Update platform which would prevent out-of-date systems, like mine, from receiving updates. The only way to get Windows 7 to automatically update was to manually install the updates required for Windows Update to work.

I had to get three different updates from the Microsoft Update Catalog website.

  • KB976932 (optional) – Windows 7 Service Pack 1
  • KB3020369 – April 2015 servicing stack update Windows 7
  • KB3125574 – Convenience rollup update for Windows 7 SP1

Most resource I found online simply recommended to first install KB3020369, next KB3125574, and then reboot. Going this rout probably works for most cases, but it did not for mine! I was able to install KB3020369, but when I tried to install KB3125574 the installer closed with the message “the update is not applicable”. It turned out that KB3125574 requires Windows 7 SP1, which was not what the Windows recover image installed. I was able to install KB3125574 after installing the Service Pack 1 (KB976932) update for Windows 7. After I had those three updates installed the Windows Update service was able to find all missing updates for my laptop.


For Windows Vista users.

Unfortunately, patching Windows Vista after August 2020 will not resolve error code 80072EFE, since Microsoft has shut down the Windows Update servers for Windows Vista and earlier operating systems. I have linked the shutdown notice below, as well as a detailed forum post.

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