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Automatic Updates service could not start. Error Code 2 pops up

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Hi all,

I tried to download updates for my home pc [Win XP(SP3)], but since I've previously set it to manual, I had to restart the service. However, when I ran services.msc and right-clicked Start on the Automatic Updates line, I get an error message, Could not start the Automatic Update service on Local Computer. Error 2: The system could not find the file specified. I've gone online and found out this is usually caused by some malware attack (I haven't seen anything else stating otherwise). I've then attempted the following recommended fixes:

1.Ran my local AV program (avast!) and found an exploit virus; fixed that now.

2.Downloaded MS Security Essentials, updated and ran it; got some hits and fixed those as well.

3.Checked the Image Path Value in the Registry key HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\wuauserv and verified it is %systemroot%\system32\svchost.exe -k netsvcs and not a fake path like %fystemroot%\.. netsvcs.

4.Ran sfc.ex /scannow and no prompts came up.

5.Ran HijackThis and spotted this suspicious line --- O23 - Service: UPHClean - Unknown owner - ?:\P?ogr?m Files\UPHClean\uphclean.exe (file missing). I've tried several times to delete this but it still comes back, and still shows up after running HJT several times.

As of today, I still can't get updates or restart the service, and Number 5 in particular has me worried like a cornered cat. 'Til now, I've never seen an HJT entry formatted like that, and one that HJT can't fix. It even gives this ominous info message: Malware that registers itself as a service is subsequently harder to kill.

I'll really appreciate any help you guys could extend me.

Edited by aliengreen, 12 August 2011 - 06:23 AM.

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