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Dealing with Failed Windows Updates

Even in enterprise situations where IT professionals will disable Windows Update on desktop and server machines, in favor of staging updates to test machines in the background, and using their own deployment tools and techniques to roll them out, there will be occasional problems in downloading or installing updates from the Windows Update servers. I’ve learned two valuable techniques to help overcome these problems as and when they occur.

Unable to Access the Windows Update Server
After a clean Vista install, and after installing Service Packs on reference builds, you will occasionally encounter an error message that reads “Windows Update Error 87002EE2: Unable to access Windows Update.” The help link that accompanies this error information includes lots of potentially useful information to help resolve the various possible causes for this error, but I’ve observed that adding the following URLs to the Trusted Sites list in Internet Explorer usually resolves this problem:

  • http://*
  • https://*

Please consult KB836941 for more information and troubleshooting tips for this situation.

When individual updates fail to install automatically, look for standalone installer versions
Discriminating admins will notice that all Windows Updates make reference to related Microsoft Knowledge Base articles, in a form that looks like KB, where is a 6-digit number. Invariably, digging up the relevant article will also include a link to the Microsoft Standalone Installer version of the same update that Windows Update delivers in slightly different binary form. Simply by inserting the six-digit KB article number into this string should take you right to that document: http:/ (replace with the actual number).

In most cases, you can package up the self-installing update for deployment to client machines after you’ve tested and approved it for general release. It will need to be embedded inside a script to force the installer to run, but this shouldn’t present too many difficulties (I’ll cover this activity in another upcoming blog).

Stay tuned!


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