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By leveraging a well-designed collection hierarchy, we can design an update scheme that automatically patches our machines within specified windows. Do you have certain servers that can only be restarted at certain times? How about a group of machines that need to reboot in certain order? Maintenance windows allow you to overcome both problems by allowing you to granularly schedule update installations and reboots.
Managing SCCM maintenance windows
We created software update collections based on the client operating system in Part 1 of this series. When you configure a custom maintenance window, you can apply the schedule to one of these collections.
Software update collections based on server operating systems
Depending on your environment, you might also want to create additional collections for certain server roles. For example, you might create a collection for each Hyper-V server or domain controller at each of your physical sites. This would allow you to stagger installation and reboot times so that services never become unavailable.
Once you decide what servers should restart and when they should be available for patching, you can create your first maintenance window. Right-click your collection and select Properties – Maintenance Windows.
Creating a maintenance window for 2008 R2 servers
Click Add and name your maintenance window. If you want your maintenance window to start at a later date, change the effective date to reflect that. The default maintenance window opening is for three hours (1:00 AM to 4:00 AM). If you change this, be sure to leave a window large enough to install patches, applications, and so on.
Finally, choose a recurrence schedule and a recurrence date. In the screenshot above, this collection will have a maintenance window every Saturday from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM. This maintenance window is applied only to software updates. Click OK to see your maintenance window listed.
Two maintenance windows applied to my server collection
In the screenshot above, I have two maintenance windows applied to my collection. The first is for Saturday, and the second is for Sunday. If your maintenance windows overlap, the SCCM client will merge the times together. For simplicity, avoid overlapping windows.
Monitoring software updates with SCCM
Two client actions determine how and when updates are processed. The first is the Software Updates Deployment Evaluation Cycle action. This action checks the machine for software update compliance and determines what updates are applied. By using this action, you can test software deployments and targeting without having to wait on an update schedule.
Client actions that control the software update installation
The second one is the Software Updates Scan Cycle action. This action checks each software update installation for completion and notifies the machine if a reboot is required to finish the installation.
Update waiting to be installed
Like other deployments, automatic deployment rules can be viewed in the Monitoring/Deployment windows in the Configuration Manager console. By examining a deployment status, you can see compliant machines, failures, and machines that still have not reported. In the screenshot below, all of the 2012 R2 machines are compliant with a Baseline update. If you have run any of your automatic deployment rules, you would see those deployments now.
Deployment status of our baseline deployment for 2012 R2 updates
Troubleshooting SCCM software updates
Several things can go wrong with software update deployments. First, the software update might not be deployed to a client. Ensure that the client is a member of the collection, the deployment is linked to the collection, and the deployment is scheduled to install.
A deployment applied to a collection
Ensure that the content has been distributed to a distribution point. This can be checked under Monitoring/Distribution Status/Content Status. You can select your Software Update Package to check on the distribution status.
Successful distribution of Windows Server 2012 R2 content
If you still have issues with software updates, head to C:\Windows\CCM\Logs on your client. Launch WUAHandler.log. You will need to download the Configuration Manager Toolkit to use the Trace Log Tool pictured below.
Windows updates recorded in the WUAHandler.log