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Have you ever been the administrator of a Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) deployment? If you have, I'm sure you know that "free" doesn't always mean hassle free. In between trying to clean up disk space using the flaky server cleanup wizard and client PCs mysteriously refusing to connect to the server and get their updates, WSUS can make an administrator's life "interesting."
Installation and usage ^
Grab the free tool from here; it's all of 1.9 MB. Run the installer, click Next a couple of times, and it's installed. By default, it'll run straightaway and show you the dashboard. It breaks down into three areas: machine state, Windows Update Agent (WUA) configuration settings, and WSUS server connectivity.
The tool validates that you've got the right settings in Group Policy and that they're propagating properly to different clients in your network.
The machine state area will (among other things) let you know if the WUA version is mismatched with your host OS whereas the connectivity area will show you common misconfigurations such as erroneous DNS records and wrong characters in URLs.
Here you can see a client that's not receiving the WSUS configuration at all (either manually configured or through Group Policy):
Here on the other hand is a WSUS client that's receiving configuration but has issues with connecting to the WSUS web server. These are real, production computers at one of my clients. Clearly, I need to keep a closer eye on the health of their WSUS deployment. Note the plain English explanation for each issue, instead of cryptic error codes that'll lead you off to websites and forums to track down what the issue is.
The Settings tab lets you define a proxy server if required and lets you set the logging level of the utility itself.
SolarWinds Patch Manager ^
It's worth mentioning that behind a good free product that solves a specific problem often stands a more comprehensive solution—in this case Patch Manager. This product integrates with WSUS and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and manages third-party updates. It also provides system and application patch status for both Microsoft and third-party applications.
Furthermore, it comes with prebuilt patches and packages for third-party applications, comprehensive dashboards, and reporting on the patch status across your entire network.
The Diagnostic Tool for the WSUS Agent can save you time and effort in tracking down client-side configuration and connectivity issues in your WSUS infrastructure. If you manage WSUS, you should add it to your tool belt. Get free tool here.