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Microsoft Office Update Woes

THE PROBLEM - Windows Updates, Office Updates, Office Repair Tool, Failure

I was trying to install a critical Office Update to Microsoft Office 2003 Professional. I repeatedly encountered an error 1604 and the update would fail. I tried several different solutions, including the Office Repair Tool which also came up with the same error. My first thought was to bug the Microsoft Support team, after all that is why we pay the big bucks for software, isn't it? Unfortunately, as is the case a lot of the time, they offered no viable solution to the problem - each blaming the other for the malfunction and leading me through a slew of different support technicians, and I basically gave up trying to get a solution from them.

When I had the time, I sat down in front of the problem and started doing for myself, what I do for others. Solve problems. The nice thing about using Windows, Office or Microsoft Update is that each update creates a log file of what is going on, usually called OHotFix, in a temporary directory. If something should fail, you can always find out exactly what is going wrong in there. After some time poking around the various information provided, I noticed that the updater was looking for the LocalCacheDrive on a hard disk that I had removed recently since it was malfunctioning. "AHA! This must be the problem!" thought I, and it was. I started poking around the registry to see if I could find where the cache drive was set, found it and fixed it. The result - Microsoft (being Windows and Office Update combined) and Office Update now work completely fine.


DISCLAIMER: This fix requires you to manipulate the registry. The instructions provided here are believed to be accurate and by following them you should not encounter problems, however by performing any of the actions suggested in this document, you are agreeing that, families, affiliates and/or employees can not be held responsible for any damages that may occur while you follow these instructions. This information is provided AS-IS and without Warranty. You are permitted to duplicate this information in it's entirety on your web site, forum or blog, provided you give credit to and provide a human readable link to at the bottom of the article and send an email with a link to your web site where the information is duplicated to [email protected] If you are uncomfortable with any step of this procedure, seek qualified help to aid you with this solution. This solution is not guaranteed to fix your specific problem, if you have not removed, repartitioned or relettered a hard disk or partition, chances are this is not the solution you are looking for. Before you attempt any of the suggested steps read and understand the entire document.

Now that the obligatory nastiness is over with (pronounced disclaimer), here are the steps that you should follow to repair your Microsoft/Office Update.

Open Regedit, the Windows Registry Editor, by clicking the Start button and clicking Run. In the field type: regedit and then click OK or hit the enter key. You should now have a regedit window open and see a list of keys on the left hand side.

Registry Editor
Registry Editor

You have to browse to a specific key and location. To do this you will need to click the "plus" symbol [+] beside the corresponding entries. The "\" character in the location below separates the individual keys. That said browse to the following location:


Click on the very last key specified ({91110409-6000-11D3-8CFE-0150048383C9}) and you should have a list of sub keys appear in the right hand window, as pictured below.

Registry Entry To Look For

Locate the sub key called LocalCacheDrive in the right hand column. If the letter that is specified in the Data column corresponds to a hard disk drive or partition that has been removed, repartioned or relettered, right-click on the LocalCacheDrive and click Modify on the contextual menu. Now change the existing letter to C and then click OK. If you have multiple Office products installed that are failing update, such as Visio, Front Page, etc. You will have several keys that look like {91110409-6000-11D3-8CFE-0150048383C9} below the Delivery key. If that is the case, check each one of those to verify if the cache drive is set to the missing hard drive letter and change them to C as well.

You can now close regedit and try Microsoft or Office Updates again. BE FOREWARNED: The LocalDiskCache specifies the partition where the setup files are copied from the Office CD so that you don't have to insert your CD when you update. For some reason, if Office does not find the drive or if it finds a removable media drive (CD ROM, DVD, etc.) instead of trying to look elsewhere, it simply fails. Setting the LocalCacheDrive to C rectifies this by specifying the proper type of media (a fixed hard disk partition), but it does not replace the missing cache, as such, when you run the updater the first time after applying this fix, you will be prompted to insert the original CD/DVD(s). This should rebuild the Cache on the hard drive so that subsequent updates may be done without the CD/DVD(s).


I posted this fix on the Microsoft support forums originally on February 24, 2006 but the link has moved. I received a few email from people saying that this provided a solution to their dilemma, I thought a verbose version, this one, should be available on my own site.

Hope this helps!