WSUS Automated Maintenance

Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) aren’t always fun to manage.
Console stops responding? Large WSUS folder? Decline superseded updates? Hundreds of Language packs? Windows XP updates? There is a solution!

In many companies, either small, medium or large Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) is a must. WSUS is necessary if you plan to cache and control the distribution of Windows and Office updates in your local network. But WSUS has its issues out-of-the-box. Let’s take a look at WSUS Automated Maintenance by Adam Marshall!

Introduction

Microsoft itself has an article with official guidelines about what you could and should tune in WSUS, because the default settings won’t keep this service alive for a long time. The official guidelines can be found here and suggest the following for example:

Windows Server Update Services Best Practices

  • Consider using a configuration of 2-4 (WSUS) servers sharing the same SQL server database
  • Disable IIS AppPool recycling and configure memory limits
  • Configuring WSUS products and categories
  • Disable Itanium updates and other unnecessary updates
  • Decline Superseded Updates and run maintenance

In the past I’ve written my own article about How I build and maintain WSUS Server which covers some of this points. Trond E Haavarstein has an article How To Clean Up WSUS which is the TOP post on his blog. All in all the situation is not optimal and rather complicated.

Thankfully there is a fully automated solution available, which covers most of those best practices. Adam Marshall (MVP) has created a software solution which was once known as Adamj Clean-WSUS. Last year this software solution was professionalized by the addition of an installer and professional support. Now it is known by the product name: WSUS Automated Maintenance (WAM).

Requirements

The setup assumes, that you have already installed WSUS. PowerShell 4.0+ is needed which is the default from Windows Server 2012 R2 on wards. You will also need to install SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to leverage the full potential. You can find the full Requirements here.

Launch the WAM.exe and go through the setup steps. You have two paths to choose from: Red or Blue, inherited from The Matrix (1999). Blue will configure WAM with sane defaults, Red let’s you choose nearly every aspect in the GUI during the setup. I personally prefer the Red path, as I’m able to decline stuff like Language Packs, ARM64 and WinXP during the setup.

Installation – Blue

The Blue path will automatically configure pretty reasonable defaults for you, and will work in most cases out-of-the-box.

Halfway through, you can provide your E-Mail SMTP server settings, to receive a nice daily summary. On the last screen you can finish the setup and launch the First Run:

Completed Setup
Completed Setup

You will see some beautiful PowerShell magic, which will apply several WSUS best practices like custom SQL database indexes and declining of superseded updates:

First Run
First Run

This will take some time, depending on the size of your WSUS database and cache folder size. Multiple hours for the First Run aren’t unusual. After the script finished successful, you will receive a report by E-Mail.
The script will also install itself as a daily task in your task planner, to perform regular maintenance on your WSUS SQL database and cache folder.

Task planner
Task planner
Start menu
Start menu

 

The setup places different shortcuts in your start menu, to make usage and configuration as easy as possible.

Installation – Red

The Red path will ask you several questions during the setup, which will in the end preconfigure your Configuration.ps1 file.

During the setup you are able to configure the following. Every time you are unsure, you can just stick with the proposed defaults, which corresponds with the Blue defaults.

  • Your SMTP server settings
  • Set the Mail Report style, TXT or HTML
  • Enable the SQL Database Maintenance
  • Enable the WSUS Cleanup Wizard automation
  • Remove WSUS Drivers and Declined Updates
  • Customize the SQL & WSUS Server Connection settings
  • And most important, the Decline Updates Settings:
Decline Multiple Types of Updates Settings - Adjusted
Decline Multiple Types of Updates Settings – Adjusted

On the last screen you can finish the setup and launch the First Run:

Completed Setup
Completed Setup

You will see some beautiful PowerShell magic, which will apply several WSUS best practices like custom SQL database indexes and declining of superseded updates:

First Run
First Run

This will take some time, depending on the size of your WSUS database and cache folder size. Multiple hours for the First Run aren’t unusual. After the script finished successful, you will receive a report by E-Mail.
The script will also install itself as a daily task in your task planner, to perform regular maintenance on your WSUS SQL database and cache folder.

Task planner
Task planner
Start menu
Start menu

 

The setup places different shortcuts in your start menu, to make usage and configuration as easy as possible. For example the shortcut WAM Configuration leads you to the Configuration.ps1, which you generated through the GUI during the setup. Here you could take a second look at the settings and adjust them to your needs. In my test I found the possibilities provided by the setup sufficient.

Configuration.ps1
Configuration.ps1

Conclusion

WSUS Automated Maintenance is a very smart way to apply several best practices easily recommended by Microsoft. Additionally maintenance is applied regularly without further work for IT-Administration. WSUS will be faster and more stable, guaranteeing reliable Windows updates for all your clients and server, resulting in more security.

Disclaimer

Adam provided me with a Test version of WSUS Automated Maintenance. I promised him a critical review in my own words. He hasn’t influenced what is written here.

Author: Marco

Marco is an IT-System administrator and IT-Consultant with 10+ years experience. He is specialized in the delivery of virtual Apps and Desktops with Citrix solutions. In 2017 he has been awarded Citrix Technology Advocate by Citrix for his community work (#CTA). His second core area is availability & performance monitoring with Zabbix, a leading open-source solution. His employer is the German IT-Company ANAXCO, which is developing a Transport Management Software (TMS) based on Microsoft Dynamics AX. More about Marco

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