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  1. #1
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    Win Updates-Which ones (XP Home SP2)

    Hi All,

    I am somewhat confused by the issue of what Win Updates to download and how safe are they.

    It's not an issue of whether an update needing a restart will force the restart, per BerylM's post/thread at <post#=547039>post 547039</post#>.

    As an example, I saw in <post#=527406>post 527406</post#> that the update for KB873333 has been replaced by KB902400 but when I ran Auto Update just now (with settings on Notify Me but don't Download or Install), I only saw the former. So one question is why aren't I seeing the latter one instead?

    I also noticed in that post that there might be an issue of having uninstall the hotfix but not being able to do so if one installed it manually. A system restore is needed with a reinstallation of updates since the last restore. This raises several questions:
    - how does one know what updates are installed? I've seen that in Add/Remove Programs, with "Show Updates" checked, that one can see a list of updates. But how does one know which ones to reinstall? If it's a matter of reinstalling ones that are not listed in A/R Programs after an install, how does one know which ones those are? Is there some kind of log that survives a System Restore that shows this or does one have to just run Auto Update again? Are the downloaded hotfixes still in some folder (which one?) so one can install w/o downloading? Does it matter if one attempts to reinstall a fix that is already installed?

    - Googling "windows updates", I ran across Tool Displays Windows updates in detal that mentions a <img src=/S/free.gif border=0 alt=free width=30 height=15> program called WindowsUpdateList that provides more info on installed updates than A/R Programs might and supposedly facilitates uninstalling hotfixes. Does anyone have any experience with this program or similar ones?

    There's also an issue of whether there is some kind of "clearinghouse" site that provides info on Win Updates as a whole, with a list of what ones have been issued by MS, what dependencies there are, whether needed or not, etc. I'm thinking of something similar to the site (viper?) that provided info on Windows dll's or another site that provides info on Windows API calls.

    I've also seen that one should consider the top priority updates those that are security updates marked critical or mandatory; others say, only do the mandatory ones. I've also seen that some critical updates get "updated" by MS to be mandatory. So does it matter?

    Does it matter if I do NOT download/install updates for items I don't use, like Windows Messenger (I know what that is and don't use it) or JView Profiler (which I have no idea of what it is)? I would expect not but want to ask.

    That's it for starters. TIA.

    Fred

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    Re: Win Updates-Which ones (XP Home SP2)

    For my own purposes, I would simply visit Microsoft Update and allow it to determine which high-priority fixes need application - or let Automatic Updates do the same. Of late Microsoft seems to have a handle on the whole update process and there have not been any major problems as a result of hotfixes. By "major" I mean those that affect large numbers of users and/or bring the OS to a halt. (There will always be a small subset of users who have a negative experience.)

    As to why you are not seeing KB902400 in the list of updates, it's likely that Microsoft has not updated the site or the text it contains to reflect this. Often Microsoft Update is a bit behind by a few days to a week in getting updates out.

    There is no perfect way to view/list the updates that have been applied. Microsoft created this problem themselves over the years and are fighting it as well. The Microsoft Security Baseline Analyzer was one attempt, and it's not perfect either. Most of this is due to the way updates are structured in the OS itself. But can you apply an existing update? Sure. No harm there. I wouldn't go to any site other than Microsoft for updates, there is no guarantee of validity or safety from an outside source no matter how well intentioned it may be. That's provided such a site exists, I don't know if it does and I won't be looking for it either!

    Finally, you can skip optional components/updates if you choose. I know I do, along with any driver recommendations made by Windows Update. Just remember to visit the site if you encounter an odd problem and are looking for a fix; it might be one that you chose to ignore.
    -Mark

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    Re: Win Updates-Which ones (XP Home SP2)

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the info and advice.

    You mentioned that MS may be a few days to a week behind in updating its site. The post I mentioned (527406) regarding the two versions of a KB fix was in October. That would make it last year - ok, that's only 2 months ago now.

    You also mentioned the MS Security Base Analyzer. I'm assuming that would inform me as to what fixes I need that are security oriented. That's fine bcs we know there are just a few <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15> security holes in Windows and related applications. But I'm assuming that Auto Updates is looking at things other than security patches. So the Analyzer would not be the full answer anyway.

    You also mentioned:
    >I wouldn't go to any site other than Microsoft for updates

    The site I mentioned provided SW for viewing the applied updates, suggesting that MS doesn't really provide a good way of doing it. The SW also allows one to uninstall an update, again suggesting it fills a void that even people here (per that same post 527406) suggested exists and can be a major headache. While I'd be a little wary of using outside SW to remove MS patches, I wasn't sure that using the SW just to see what's installed would be a problem. Aren't there lots of 3rd party programs that provide better views of system SW than what MS provides? Any difference here?

    Any ideas of where these items are downloaded to if I just have the Auto Update setting set to "Notify Me"? When I do the download, where is it put? When I'm ready to run the patch, do I just go back to Auto Update? Does it analyze the system again but figure out some things have been downloaded - offering to download patches not yet downloaded while offering to run those already downloaded and stored in the secret cache somewhere it knows?

    I downloaded and installed a patch before I made the post this morning. It had to do with minimizing downloads by installing a permanent copy of the Package Installer (KB898461). I couldn't find anything with the Win Search utility that gave me a hint that anything had been installed this morning or any logs had been altered by looking at timestamps. Hence the questions in the preceding paragraph.

    Thanks again.

    Fred

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    Re: Win Updates-Which ones (XP Home SP2)

    Windows Update is historically behind in getting updates out as they are released. Don't know why that is, but it is. <img src=/S/shrug.gif border=0 alt=shrug width=39 height=15> The MSBA is not a reliable tool, or at least it wasn't when I last used it - but there is a new version out that ties in with Microsoft Update, so that may have changed. It's geared more towards business use to enable administrators to determine security configurations on multiple computers. If you decide to check it out, start here and let us know what you think!
    <hr>Aren't there lots of 3rd party programs that provide better views of system SW than what MS provides? Any difference here?<hr>
    Whether or not this is a true statement, I can't say. But what I do know is this: no one knows Windows better than the company that makes it, so my level of trust in outside software to be thorough is not as high. Sure, Microsoft has made their share of blunders and such, but the fact still remains that they made it and they should know.

    I believe updates are downloaded to %windir%:WUTemp (e.g., C:WUTemp) by default. I really don't know how the analysis feature works but I do know it's gotten better as time has passed. Presumably the migration to the NT code base has helped in that regard, but that's just guesswork on my part. You can view your download/installation history online, which indicates to me that such information is indeed stored locally but where it is and whether it's accessible to an end user is again something I don't know for sure.

    I believe the best solution to your problem is to use the online update mechanism unless there are multiple machines that you need to update. Hopefully I've been able to help clear at least a few things up for you in spite of my multiple "I don't knows"!
    -Mark

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    Re: Win Updates-Which ones (XP Home SP2)

    Mark,

    Sorry to bother again. But now I'm very confused.

    Per my last email of about 10 minutes ago, I had downloaded and installed a perm copy of the Package Installer this morning. When I ran Auto Update again at that time, I got a list of about a dozen patches to be installed - hence some of my questions in my first posting on the thread (eg, patches for MS Messenger, Jviewer, etc.). I notice that you said in your email:

    >I would simply visit Microsoft Update and allow it to determine which high-priority fixes need application - or let Automatic Updates do the same

    How does one visit MS Update? I don't see anything in Auto Update that just visits and re-analyzes; I just see the few settings that allow everything to run on auto, download but let me choose when to install (hence some of my questions), or just notify me what's needed (which I'd like it to do right NOW so I know what it was telling me this morning).

    When I got on my PC this evening and responded to your email about 10 minutes ago, I had restarted my system first (more on that in a moment). I just clicked on Auto Update to see what was there - the only thing there now is MS Windows Installer 3.1. I wouldn't recall if that was there this morning but I know there were a lot of other things.

    So how do I get this Auto Update to re-analyze the system again?

    One of the reasons I restarted the system was that I was getting a message telling me there was web content available for me and asking if I wanted to work offline and view it or try connecting again to get it (I have both DSL and dialup modem access on my PC but the latter will disappear in about a week). This started happening yesterday but I don't think this has anything to do with the downloaded MS patches but won't swear to it. Just thought I'd mention this if at all relevant. Since restarting, I haven't gotten that message again.

    I do see, in the C:WINDOWSsystem32PreInstallWinSEwxp_x86_0409_v1 folder some stuff that probably relates to the Package Installer update from this morning (all timestamped 2/24/05) but nothing that seems like an install pgm (all have extensions of .ref although the file names look like ...exe.ref and ...dll.ref so maybe there's hope), which I did do. Of course the wxp_x86... folder name might make more sense if it had some relationship to the KB number. That's probably asking too much.

    TIA

    Fred

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    Re: Win Updates-Which ones (XP Home SP2)

    Hi Mark,

    Here's some info to add to the knowledge pool.

    I changed my Auto Update setting to Download but don't install. The Windows Installer 3.1 was supposedly downloaded. I then did the install via Auto Update. I then did a search to see what files were added to my system and where. It looks like there were 3 such files:
    - NTUSER.DAT of size about 4.5 MB (which corresponds to what Auto Update told me was the size of the update) installed under Cocuments and SettingsFred (that's me); when I tried to open this in Notepad (what the heck), Win reported the file in use by another process even after I installed the download (the Auto Update?). The system does want a restart so maybe this file won't be released until after I do that. (There is also an ntuser.dat.log in this folder that I can't open for the same reason and seems to be updated - can see the timestamp change as the system clock changes.) I wonder if I download several patches at once whether these files would get some kind of sequence number. Maybe this file disappears after I finish the install (don't see an NTUSER.DAT from this morning but this evening's download is waiting for a restart so maybe this evening's NTUSER.DAT will disappear once I do that).

    - qmgr0.dat and qmgr1.dat, each 5KB, in Cocuments and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataMicrosoftNetworkDownloader; when I tried to open these in Notepad, I was able to and saw some text with the MS web site and and some folder names. An interesting one was:
    - C:WINDOWSSoftwareDistribution
    The only other file in the Cocuments and SettingsAll Users... folder was qmgr0.bak with a timestamp in 2003.

    Within C:WINDOWSSoftwareDistribution, there are a few interesting folders/subfolders/files (none of which turned up in the Search result). One of them is
    - C:WINDOWSSoftwareDistributionDataStoreLogs
    which seems to have some event logs with timestamps corresponding to when I did some things with Auto Update (this morning and this evening).

    Another one is:
    - C:WINDOWSSoftwareDistributionDownload
    which has 2 subfolders
    - C:WINDOWSSoftwareDistributionDownloadad9c4c2a77993 3f83b51a49a2c88838dupdate
    - C:WINDOWSSoftwareDistributionDownload126638ad80a74 0243aeee66683d803a7update

    Looking at the files within the update subfolders, I see numerous files, some that have names corresponding to the KB items downloaded (and visible in the Add/Remove SW).

    So maybe this helps know where things go.

    Now when I click on Auto Update in the systray, all I get is a msg saying I must do a restart for the updates to take effect and do I want to do that now or later; can't get anything else. So I'm off to do a restart, see what's what after that, and maybe check for more updates.

    Fred

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    Re: Win Updates-Which ones (XP Home SP2)

    More info:

    Forgot to mention before that I do not have a WUTEMP folder anywhere.

    After the restart, I went back to Auto Update. It told me there were not a whole bunch of updates ready to download. Seems like more than there were this morning. I did see some of the ones from this morning (eg, Windows Messenger) but not some others (Jview Profiler). I'm now downloading them.

    There are now 36 subfolders under C:WINDOWSSoftwareDistributionDownload (as opposed to the 2 I had). So I'm assuming one subfolder per update. The download process just finished and one of the folders seems to have been deleted (with a name like "S 1-5...") while the others have names like the ones mentioned earlier. There are also 3 files that have just long hex names with no extension.

    When viewing the ...Download folder in Win Explorer, some of the folders do NOT have a + for subfolders in the Win Exp left Folder pane yet DO show folders in the Right file pane (is this strange?). Others do show >1 subfolder with a + in the left pane (more than just the "update" subfolder) and show the same folders in the Right file pane.

    The files in the Cocuments and SettingsFred folder mentioned earlier do have a current timestamp. So now I wonder what these are for. NTUSER.dat - clearly not the direct holder of update info - has a timestamp corresponding to the end of the massive download but ntuser.dat.LOG continues to get updated and changes size.

    The 2 files in the Cocuments and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataMicrosoftNetworkDownloader folder (qmgr0.dat and qmgr1.dat) also seem to have a timestamp corresponding to the end of the massive download.

    I'm off to do the install. I know I downloaded some updates I didn't want (eg, the Windows Messenger update) so I'm wondering if I do a custom install whether I can avoid installing them and, if so, whether Auto Update will tell me in the future that they're still available for installing.

    Fred

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    Re: Win Updates-Which ones (XP Home SP2)

    Fred,

    I'm pretty sure that Automatic updates will only process security and critical fixes. If you want to see all fixes and non-critical updates you need to visit Windows Update or Microsoft Update. Microsoft Update should be an option on the right side of the Windows Update home page. Microsoft Update can deploy updates for Microsoft software other than Windows. At this point in time that is only Office 2003 or Office XP. You can get to Windows update by using IE and going to Tools | Windows Update. Once there look on the right side for a link to Microsoft Update. If you choose to install MU from that time on using IE will go to MU instead of WU.

    If want to see what fixes have been installed go to Control Panel | Add or Remove Programs. There is a 'Show Updates' check box at the top of the installed programs list. Just make sure it is checked and you should be able to see the Microsoft updates that have been installed.

    Joe

    Joe
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    Re: Win Updates-Which ones (XP Home SP2)

    Hi Joe,

    I just finished the installation. Not sure I agree with you.

    Some numbers don't add up:
    - there were 35 subfolders in the C:WINDOWSSoftwareDistributionDownload subfolder. 2 of them were from the earlier installs today. So that would suggest 33 items downloaded at about 2200 this evening (Jan 8, 2006). I chose not to install 1 (the WIndows Msgr update) so you'd think 32 items were being installed.
    - Choosing a custom install allowed me to see the progress of the install. I saw 1 of 34, 2 of 34 updates being installed. Unfortunately, I switched to doing something else while the install was going on so didn't see it finish. But I'd assume 34 things were being installed.
    - When I look at A/R Pgms, I see 33 items that I can directly attribute to windows updates. There may be 2 more (one for some HP software and one for Symantic) that may have been part of the download install (I did choose something dealing with HP but don't recall anything for Symantic). This may or may not be consistent with the 33 or 35 above.

    A few of the updates show an install date of Jan 9, 2006 in the A/R Pgms when I click on the item - still in the future for me. Most show Jan 8, 2006 and some don't show a date at all.

    There is an event log that seems to be updated as the download/install proceeds: ReportingEvents.log in the C:WINDOWSSoftwareDistribution subfolder.

    I think that's about all my findings for the Win update process.

    Thanks.

    Fred

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    Re: Win Updates-Which ones (XP Home SP2)

    Did you visit the Windows Update site or just let Automatic Update do its thing?

    Note: from Stay Up to Date Automatically: "Automatic Updates provides high-priority updates, which include security and other critical updates that can help protect your computer." In other words to get other updates you must use WU or MU.

    As far as getting software updates from other vendors, you may get driver updates from a company other than MS by using WU or MU. I would not recommend using WU or MU for driver updates. You are almost always better off getting the drivers from the OEM. WU/MU often will misidentify installed driver versions and recommend older versions to be installed. Other than drivers I don't believe that any company other than MS can distribute updates via WU/MU.

    The 'Show Updates' check box will show updates from Microsoft for those MS products that are supported with hotfixes/patches. Programs that are updated via full releases such as Intellipoint drivers will not show as having updates.

    Joie
    Joe

  11. #11
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    Re: Win Updates-Which ones (XP Home SP2)

    >Did you visit the Windows Update site or just let Automatic Update do its thing?

    I did both. Last night, I let Auto Update do its thing in terms of downloading and installing with my guidance. This morning I visited the Win Update site and saw what it was suggesting needed to be done. I didn't do any of these latter items (install critical update to Messenger, which I don't use; install security patch to .NET, which I also don't use; download Media Player 10 and .NET 2; etc.).

    I do have "Show Updates" checked.

    Thanks.

    Fred

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    Re: Win Updates-Which ones (XP Home SP2)

    Are you sure you don't have .NET installed? It is required by many applications now. I don't think that WU would suggest a patch if you did not already have the 'base' software installed. If you use the Windows Media Player you really ought to install Media Player 10. Also, if you have the band width you ought to go ahead and get .NET 2.0. As .NET 1.1 is now, it will be required for many applications very soon.

    Joe
    Joe

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    Re: Win Updates-Which ones (XP Home SP2)

    Joe,

    I know.

    I know that I have .NET 1.0, which I loaded for a school project about a year ago. While I don't use it per se, I do know it's used by many apps. So I will probably load the 1.1 patch and probably 2.0.

    As far as Media Player 10 goes, I was thinking about that also. I'm not unhappy with 9 and don't usually download things just to have the latest and greatest.

    So I'll think about both and at least do something with .NET.

    Thks.

    Fred

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