Windows was unable to get a list of devices from Windows Update [FIX]

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
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The “Windows was unable to get a list of devices from Windows Update” error message pops up for some users when trying to install printers. That error message pops up when users select the Add a local printer option on the Add Printer window.

Consequently, users can’t install their printers. Here are a few resolutions that can fix the “Windows was unable to a get a list of devices” error.

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What to do if your PC can’t list any devices from Windows Update

1. Check if There are Pending Updates

The “Windows was unable to get a list of devices” error might arise when there’s a pending update.

To check if that’s the case, press the Windows key + Q hotkey and enter ‘update’ in Cortana.

Then select Check for updates to open the window shown directly below, which provides update details. Restart Windows if there’s a pending updating, and then try installing the printer after the update has installed.

2. Delete the SoftwareDistribution Folder

A lot of uses have confirmed that deleting the SoftwareDistribution folder fixes the “Windows was unable to get a list of devices” error.

So, this might be the best resolution for that error message.

Follow the guidelines below to erase the SoftwareDistribution folder.

  • First, open Run with the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut.
  • Enter ‘services.msc’ in the text box and press OK to open the window in the snapshot directly below.

  • Double-click Windows Update to open the window shown directly below.

  • Press the Stop button.
  • Select the Apply option, and click OK to close the window.
  • Press the Windows key + E hotkey to open File Explorer.
  • Open the folder path C: > Windows in File Explorer.
  • Select the SoftwareDistribution folder, and press the Delete button.

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  • Then open the Services window again.
  • Double-click Windows Update, and press the Start button.
  • Then click Apply and OK.

— RELATED: Here’s what I do when Windows can’t find audio devices

3. Edit the SoftwareDistribution Folder Title and Reset the Catroot2 Folder

  • This is an alternative resolution in which users rename SoftwareDistribution and reset the catroot2 folder. To do that in Windows 10, press the Windows key + X hotkey.
  • Select Command Prompt (Admin) to open the Prompt’s window.
  • Input ‘net stop wuauserv’ in the Command Prompt, and press Enter.

  • Enter ‘net stop bits’ and press Return.
  • Then input ‘rename c:windowsSoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.bak’ and press Enter.

  • To restart Windows Update, input ‘net start wuauserv’ in the Command Prompt.
  • Enter ‘net start bits’ in the Command Prompt, and press the Return key.
  • Input ‘net stop cryptsvc’ in the CMD, and hit the Enter key.
  • To reset catroot2, enter ‘md %systemroot%system32catroot2.old’ in the CMD as shown directly below.

  • Then input ‘xcopy %systemroot%system32catroot2 %systemroot%system32catroot2.old /s’ as in the snapshot directly below.

  • Close the Command Prompt window.
  • Open File Explorer, and browse to this folder path: Windows > System32.
  • Select the catroot2 folder, and press the Delete button.

  • Then restart Windows.

The second resolution usually fixes the “Windows was unable to get a list of devices” issue for most users.

However, the first and third resolutions are two alternatives that might also fix the printer error.

Some users have also stated that deleting all the files in the DataStore subfolder within SoftwareDistribution can fix the issue.

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