The Joy of Patching


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Sometimes I find myself living in the future while the problems of the present still flood my desk. Case and point, last nights patch cycle. I have a lot of servers I'm responsible for pretty much everywhere from continents to data centers down to regional offices we manage. The patching process is, in short, a fun way to test your ironman instincts as you test, plan, deploy and clean up.

I tend to be optimistic about Microsoft and patching software, IE being a huge exception to that since it does not belong on the Internet. It's convenient to just push a few buttons and get things taken care of – when they work. Last night was a not so fun experience with Windows/Microsoft Update and WSUS. Our corporate policy is to test and patch, ask questions later. Here are some of the fun that happened last night:

  1. Sysem just wound not patch. Automatic download + apply + reboot simply did not happen. Is the process running? Yup. Did it download an apply patch according to schedule? Nope.
  2. Windows Update crashing with no really identifiable cause. windowsupdate.log doesn't show anything out of the ordinary.
  3. Why can't SUS client successfully terminate the notepad.exe process? Its as if its immortal. It shuts down everything except notepad as if it is holding the task scheduler in it 🙂
  4. Windows Update and Microsoft Update just spinning arund with the progress bar completing endlessly with no real progress. No entry in the logs either.
  5. My absolute favorite. Something broke, please reboot and try again. And again. And again.

Now this is nothing new, I've encountered these on previous occasions but they have been very limited. Overnight though, ouch. We've really been giving our WSUS a workout and shifted a lot of the stuff that was not centrally managed through WSUS back into it. Talk about a bad experience encouraging product adoption.

If you've run into these problems please join me today in the Microsoft Technet Webcast covering May 9th Security Bulletins. Starts at 2 PM EST.

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