The free SolarWinds Diagnostic Tool for the WSUS Agent is designed to diagnose and even suggest corrections to common WSUS/agent issues.
I have been a Windows administrator for eight years and currently focus on Group Policy, backup, and IIS/Apache administration.
WSUS is one of the best free management tools that Microsoft provides for an Active Directory domain to receive Windows Updates. It dramatically streamlines the download/install process while allowing administrators to implement enforceable Windows Update policy on client computers. However, Microsoft does not offer much in the way of troubleshooting tools, so diagnosing an issue with a WSUS implementation can be mundane.
The free SolarWinds Diagnostic Tool for the WSUS Agent is a refreshingly lightweight download and takes only a moment to install. You should install the agent on any WSUS client computer (your computer would be fine) and get started with a diagnostic test.
The first tab of the application, the “Dashboard,” offers access to the test results of the diagnostic test, The test includes most of the common points of WSUS agent issues, like whether certain URL’s are accessible. To run the test your group policy settings must be configured such that the WSUS agent will be running on your computer. The test takes a few seconds (depending on your link speed) and then the results are displayed.
SolarWinds Diagnostic Tool for the WSUS Agent – Test results
In this case, there is some issue connecting to “content.” You can see that SolarWinds not only informs you of a failure, but also of some ways to fix the issue. You can also conveniently export these diagnostic results to a flat file for later consumption.
If you are having trouble connecting to the WSUS Server in the first place you should read up on their linked section on How to configure a WSUS client. SolarWinds provides some useful advice on how to get connected.
The Settings tab allows you to implement a proxy server in your configuration if your WSUS implementation requires one; in addition, you can change a few program options like logging level and “show debug window on error.” You can even choose to “override graphic acceleration,” although I’m not quite sure about why that option is available in a program that displays WSUS agent issues.
Application Specific Settings
The other tabs mostly offer instructional and promotional material from SolarWinds.
SolarWinds WSUS agent diagnostic tool could be genuinely useful if you are trying to diagnose endpoint issues like:
- WSUS agent (client) cannot receive downloads from server
- WSUS agent cannot connect to server
- WSUS agent running on unintended schedule
Since these are typically first-line troubleshooting steps for WSUS agent issues, it is awesome that SolarWinds has combined all of these WSUS troubleshooting steps into a single tool. If you are performing remote support on a client or you set up a client to examine WSUS issues, you may want to install this tool before proceeding further to get an idea of where the problem is.
In my case, I found that there was an issue accessing the “content” folder on my domain. After snooping around the permissions on that folder I learned that somewhere along the line somebody had changed those permissions from the defaults, and as a result the folder was not accessible. Obviously this limited the usefulness of WSUS. So, I was able to roll back to an earlier state in a virtual machine, grab the right permissions, and manually apply them to the right machine. I’m sure there is a faster way but I wanted to be sure I got it right.
Anyone who supports a WSUS environment should download the tool. It’s free, lightweight, and quick to install. It’s a one trick pony that does its trick very well. In the future, perhaps SolarWinds will provide us with more options to diagnose the WSUS server (which is typically the heart of the issue) as well as performance issues. For example, many administrators are unaware of the serious performance gains when using a downstream server over an L2L VPN link. Such suggestions would only be possible if the tool could query Active Directory domain controllers. At any rate, though, this free tool is a great start for SolarWinds and a great addition for the WSUS administrator community!