Windows Server Update Center

WSUS: Windows Server Update Center

What is WSUS?

WSUS, Windows Server Update Center, is a server role in the operating system Windows Server. This role enables the management and distribution of Microsoft updates for the operating systems and other Microsoft software within the organization's network. In this sense, WSUS can streamline update processes and thus minimise any disruptions unplanned updates might cause to the workflow. 

What are the uses of WSUS?

The first use of WSUS is the centralized update management. Since administrators can manage upcoming updates across the software network, organizations do not have to rely on individual systems to download the updates from Microsoft servers. Instead, with WSUS, they can download the updates once and then distribute them internally. This further enhances the network and overall work efficiency.

Additionally to managing updates, administrators can approve or decline updates on the grounds of their relevancy. This is called granular control and ensures that only approved updates are deployed. With the granular control, WSUS minimizes compatibility issues, as only selected updates are performed.

WSUS offers comprehensive reporting and monitoring features. This allows administrators to efficiently track the status of any update across the organization’s network, detect systems with missing updates, and troubleshoot upcoming issues.

WSUS: Best Practices

Before deploying WSUS, IT administrators are advised to carefully plan and outline the infrastructure they need to cover the organization’s requirements. For example, it is important to consider the number of servers and computers that need to be managed, together with the network topology – the elements and connections in a communication network.

A useful tip when deploying WSUS in any software infrastructure is implementing a testing environment. Since organizations usually rely on multiple computers and users, a testing environment is a good solution for reducing the risk of unexpected problems. A testing environment is a place where administrators can evaluate updates before they are implemented in the other systems. In case there are any compatibility or stability issues, they can be effectively detected and resolved without disrupting a more global level. 

To enhance the approval of updates, users in WSUS can define clear update approval workflows. They ensure that only authorized updates are deployed across the network. The criteria for the update approval can be based on different factors such as compatibility, security or criticality.

After successfully deploying WSUS, administrators must also perform regular maintenance and monitoring of the platform. Examples of such tasks are database cleanups, server optimisations and looking out for potential update issues. Regular checkups ensure that WSUS is performing well and is “healthy”.

How to implement WSUS?

Implementing WSUS to the organization's IT infrastructure could be a challenging task. By following the steps below, administrators can successfully deploy WSUS and ensure its efficiency.

Before beginning the technical installation, administrators can benefit from preparing the environment. This includes choosing a suitable server for the hosting role of WSUS. Important factors to consider are the server’s processing power, storage capacity and connectivity to the network. After this is done, the chosen server must be equipped with a supported Windows Server operating system.

After preparing the environment, the next step is to install the WSUS Role. This is done by opening the Server Manager. From the menu item “Manage”, administrators must choose “Add Roles and Features”. From this, WSUS must be selected. After this, the Installation Wizard will perform the installation. During this, administrators can select the preferred WSUS Services and Database roles. 

Next, WSUS must be configured through the Configuration Wizard. Here IT specialists can choose the language, server settings and synchronise update types. To add updated information t the WSUS database, IT administrators must initiate the initial synchronisation. This synchronization downloads update metadata directly from the Microsoft Update servers. 

After this, the languages and products for which updates must be downloaded must be specified. This step also optimizes the storage space usage. Further, the computers in the network can be configured as parts of logical groups depending on their department, location or system type. This simplifies targeted updates. Part of the group computer configuration is the establishment of group policy settings. These settings ensure that all computers are configured to receive updates from the WSUS server. Another way to configure computers is by manually modifying their register settings to point to the WSUS server. 

The next step is to monitor and maintain WSUS and its processes. One example is to monitor the status of updates and synchronization tasks. Regular monitoring ensures that missing updates and other potential issues are identified and resolved on time. Next, available updates must be approved to be implemented. With the scheduling features, IT administrators can perform updates with minimum disturbance to the workflow by scheduling them in off-peak hours.