Windows Update Service “Access is Denied” When Changing Startup Type

When you open the Services MMC and change the Windows Update service’s startup type, the “Access is denied” error occurs after clicking Apply or OK.

windows update service options grayed out - wuauserv


The above error occurs due to tightened permissions for the Windows Update service’s registry key(s).


To resolve the issue, change ownership of the “wuauserv” registry key and assign the correct permissions.

  1. Start the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and go to:
  2. Right-click wuauserv and click Permissions…
  3. Click Advanced.
  4. In the Advanced Security Settings dialog, note down the owner. If “Administrators” is not the current owner (or if it says “Unable to display current owner”), click Change.
  5. In the “Select Users or Groups” dialog, type administrators and click OK.
  6. Click Replace owner on subcontainers and objects, and then click Apply. Don’t close the dialog yet.

    wuauserv registry change ownership

  7. Make sure that the Permission entries are as shown in the dialog below. Importantly, Administrators, CREATOR OWNER, and SYSTEM have Full Control Permissions. Note that all of the permission entries are inherited from the parent. If you see additional permission entries, remove them.

    wuauserv registry permissions
    (For more information, see the article Take Ownership of a Registry Key And Assign Full Permissions)

  8. Once done, click Apply, and click OK.
  9. Exit the Registry Editor.

See if you can change the Windows Update startup type in the Services console.

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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded in 2005.

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