Portlock Knowledge Base

Managing Windows Updates for Hyper-V Server and Windows Server Core


Portlock Windows Update Manager Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 Core provide a very simple scripting interface for managing servers. The ability to manage Windows Updates is limited and consists of either selecting to manually select updates or to enable automatic updates. Portlock has a much better solution for managing Windows updates that closely resembles the GUI interface available on full Windows installations.

Key features

  • Search for all updates, updates that are installed and updates that are not installed.
  • Comprehensive details on each update including the ability to automatically launch a web browser (Firefox) to display the latest knowledgebase article on the update.
  • Select which updates to download in preparation for later installation.
  • Select which updates to install.
  • Display license agreements (EULA).
  • Display complete Windows Update History.
  • Control the settings of Windows Update (Off, Manual, Download only, Automatic).

Setting Windows Update options

The first step is deciding how Windows Updates should be managed. This includes selecting how updates are to be installed:

  • Install updates automatically. This is the Microsoft recommended setting. However, this may not be appropriate for your environment. The standard settings are to download and apply updates everyday at 3 a.m. If an update requires a system reboot then this will affect the availability of your Virtual Machines and other critical roles that you may have running. Additionally, you will not be able to review which updates are installed and review their impact on your environment.
  • Download updates but let me choose whether to install them. This option allows Windows Update to periodically download updates as they become available. You can then review which updates are available and decide which will be applied. You may decide to only apply updates that do not require a system reboot now and postpone updates that require a reboot to schedule maintenance dates.
  • Check for updates but let me choose to download and install them. This is a recommended setting when you want control over which updates are downloaded and installed.
  • Never check for updates. This setting turns off automatic Windows Update management, which Microsoft does not recommend. You can still manually check for updates and download or install updates at any time.

To change the settings for Windows Updates, select "Windows Update" in the left tree window. Then click "Settings" in the toolbar. Figure N shows the available options.

Portlock recommends selecting "Download updates but let me choose whether to install them" if you have managed practices in place to periodically schedule and review updates for your servers and want control over which updates are installed and when they are to be installed. Best practices recommend backing up your servers before any changes are applied that could affect reliability or server availability.

Select "Install updates automatically" if you want the server to manage the download and installation of updates.

An optional item is to select "Include recommended updates when downloading, installing or notifying me about updates." This setting includes updates that Microsoft considers optional. Portlock recommends enabling this option and reviewing each recommended update for applicability to your environment.

Searching for updates

Once you have configured the Windows Update settings, the next step is to complete a search for Windows updates. The first time that you perform a search, select "Search for all updates." Then review each installed update and each update available for installation.

Once the search completes, the right list window is updated with the search results. For each update, you can select "Properties" on the toolbar or double-click the update to see more details on the update.