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  • In praise of Windows Update Minitool

    Posted on January 1st, 2017 at 08:19 woody 37 comments

    When the Lounge “appendage” finally comes onstream (in a week or two), we’ll have a forum devoted to Windows utilities. I’ve been watching for comments about various utilities, and this just dropped into my inbox, from dwh:

    Hi Woody,

    Just want to say that Windows Update MiniTool is working well to give me control of Windows Update on Windows 10.  It got mention on AskWoody in the comments for:

    Still no answer to the source of Win7 slow scanning

    mostly by ch100.  I had my Windows 10 Pro system set up to get control of Automatic Updates per your venerable:

    http://www.infoworld.com/article/3053701/microsoft-windows/block-windows-10-forced-updates-without-breaking-your-machine-part-2.html

    and using WUShowHide to manually query about once a day, mostly just hiding new updates, to be later unhidden on your MS-DEFCON indication, then using the standard “Check for updates” button to download and install. (BTW, my Ethernet connection is not an issue in all this.)

    I’ve mostly just shifted to manually launching WUMT in that same context which is a much less arcane way than the former.

    My preference is to be notified that new updates are available, and act on them when I think it’s a good time.  See what’s there and likely hide them, but for some, I may want to go ahead.  Then or later, when I think it’s a good time (I’m using the computer but not intensely, there’s plenty of time
    time for downloading, and I’m in the mood), unhide what I have, and download.

    Potentially later, usually when getting closer to shutting down, install the downloaded updates.  If a restart is needed, my normal shutdown will do the prep and when I subsequently bring the system up (the next day), things will finish on the way up.

    Windows Update has never in my experience allowed download and update to be done separately, but it looks like WUMT should be able to even do that.

    When I tried “Download Only, no install,” followed by “Install Updates,” that seemed to redownload, and I’m not clear in my understanding it seems.

    I haven’t tried “Notification mode” yet, but I intend to get around to it.

    The only quirk so far was using it to install the Anniversary Update.  WUMT applied the update then offered a pop-up that restart was needed to which I said to go ahead with restart.  It just restarted back to 1511, but using Windows’ normal power controls at that point went forward fine.

    I don’t have Windows 10 Home with this, but it looks like WUMT should allow all the same controls, despite the lack of the Local Group Policy Editor.

    Anyway, if you haven’t played around with this, I think it’s worth looking at

    CAUTION: I looked at WUMT several month ago, and decided not to recommend it. The problem isn’t with the tool itself, which appears to work well, and has garnered praise from many corners. The problem is with its pedigree. The developer(s) isn’t/aren’t identified, except by their My Digital Life forum handles @stupid_user and @shewolf. There’s no web site for the product, and no way to contact the developer(s) directly. As best I can tell, apparently, the developers are in Russia, and their primary support contact, Mr. X, is in Mexico.

    As I mentioned back in August, I got in touch with @shewolf who was pleasant and knowledgeable, but I didn’t get any details about WUMT’s source – who built it, who maintains it, how to get in touch should things go wrong, other than posting to Mr. X on MDL.

    All of those were – and are – big red flags for me. I have no evidence of aberrant behavior, but I just don’t trust the product well enough to recommend, or use, it.

    If that helped, take a second to support AskWoody on Patreon

    37 Responses to “In praise of Windows Update Minitool”

    1. MikeFromMarkham says:

      Woody, Martin Brinkmann had a detailed write up of this utility a while ago in his blog… Here’s the link:

      https://www.ghacks.net/2015/10/10/windows-update-minitool-is-a-third-party-client-for-updating-windows/

    2. Richard Hurn says:

      Happy New Whatever Woody – so appreciate your ongoing iiinsights. NOW: WTF is going on with the incessant 20% CPU utilization by “interrupts Deferred Procudedure Calls ” in BOTH win7 & win10?

      Seen many many widespread questions since 2014 but never a compendium of thought. Lots to do with Nvidia / Intel drivers but no strong consensus. Wondering if you might host a thread dedicated to this?

    3. abbodi86 says:

      WUMT is literally a masterpiece, not just for Windows 10, but for all versions specially XP and Vista

    4. ch100 says:

      I will try to give more information to dwh, the original poster in relation to the purpose and use of this tool as I understand it.

      1. WU Minitool is a GUI for the already built-in functionality. It does this better than the Windows Update tools in the same way some people find useful Classic Shell for Windows 8/8.1 or 10.
      WU Minitool does not add functionality not available in Windows, but it “unhides” what Microsoft already designed and it does it very well and with a very intuitive interface.

      2. The best way to use this tool is to configure Windows Update to Never update. This is to avoid the interference between the built-in configuration and WUMT. There are further developments of WUMT by other parties to entirely replace Windows Update and launch WUMT instead, but this is more in the realm of hobby than something to be done by everyone.

      3. WUMT does not need installation, it is totally portable. It get updated often, but for most functionality, any version is “good enough”. For Windows 10 1607 in particular, it is recommended to use the latest version. For those who prefer to use the tool in other languages than en-us, there are translations available.

      4. My preference is to not change the setting which configures the download mode. This acts on the registry area where the Group Policy configuration is done. This is redundant if Windows Update is configured to Never check and WUMT is used manually as intended.
      Those without Group Policy Editor may find it useful to configure WUMT in Windows 10 Home Edition to Never check for lack of a better option.
      Everyone else can have a different preference. Avoid Managed by Administrator though as we proved here that it may have unintended effects and this is due to the design of the equivalent policy in Windows and not due to WUMT.

      5. As dwh noticed, there is little benefit is using download only functionality.
      The normal use is to Select Update service to Windows Update or Microsoft update and click on the Refresh/Scan button (first top left).
      After scan, it all becomes descriptive.

      *** Very useful for those still with slow scanning on Windows 7 (which is only their fault if they are regular readers here, this was resolved first in March 2016 – KB3138612 and next and better in June/July/September 2016 – KB3172605/KB3161608) ***

      Select the checkbox Include superseded and you will be amazed of the difference of scanning time! 🙂 But avoid to select updates to be installed with Include superseded. It is not harmful, but you may end with installing 500 updates instead of 100.

      • EP says:

        Actually ch100, the KB3138612 update alone did little or nothing to resolve the WU slow scan problems in Win7. It first required a COMBINATION of KB3138612 AND the KB3139852 win32k.sys update Noel C. mentioned back in the spring of 2016. The PERMANENT fix was to install either KB3161608 or KB3172605, which updated the entire WU client for Win7 SP1 and no longer depends on the latest win32k.sys security fixes.

        It was ultimately using the outdated WU agent/client apps for Win7, which cannot handle scanning & searching for 300+ updates for Win7.

        And note that the WU slow scan problems also occur on Windows Vista SP2 which were worse than the problems encountered in Win7.

        • ch100 says:

          It is more complicated in fact.
          Just get a new installation of Windows 7 with SP1 and install only KB3138612.
          The first scan after, is in fact as fast as it should be.
          After installing a reasonable number of patches to avoid failed updates, let’s say about 25 in any combination, the next scan is slow again.
          Abbodi86 and me discussed this behaviour few times here and abbodi86 thinks it is something to do with certain unidentified patches causing a kind of corruption of the SoftwareDistribution cached database. I cannot pinpoint any of those patches, but I certainly identified Office 2013 patches behaving badly with incomplete references to the Microsoft back-end servers, fortunately superseded now. I posted the list of those patches in one of the previous months here on this site.
          KB3139852 has different effect which is to supersede a lot of patches and this is true for all recent w32k.sys patches, it is not a true speed-up patch but acts like one in a given context.
          The only true solutions are as you mentioned, one of KB3161608 or KB3172605.

          • Volume Z says:

            KB3139852 has been superseded. As of release of KB3145739, KB3139852 has stopped having any positive effect on Windows Update, because it has stopped having a negative one.

            It’s a wrong perception of this issue to search for triggers and fixes (win32K.sys updates) in different places.

            Installation of a trigger of this issue, aka a magic patch, isn’t only installation. It’s also removal from the list of updates to be offered, which calms down the Windows Update Agent.

            When the issue has been fixed for the moment, it doesn’t get relaunched by release of any new update or a number of them. It gets relaunched by the release of at least one new trigger. The trigger KB3139852 got replaced by the trigger KB3145739 on April 12 2016 5 PM UCT.

            The general issue does not get triggered by corruption of the SoftwareDistribution folder. If Windows Update is working fine the day before Patch Day and is broken the minute Patch Day takes effect – what’s supposed to have corrupted SoftwarDistribution all of a sudden?

            Regards, VZ

            • ch100 says:

              It is a misunderstanding here.
              We know why the scanning is slow, which is exactly what you said, too much supersedence to be calculated.
              However, KB3161608 which was later superseded by KB3172605 introduced an updated Windows Update agent using probably a more efficient algorythm which allows scanning to be completed in a reasonable time which was not possible with the older versions of the agents.
              KB3138612 was just a good step in the right direction when it was released, but currently KB3172605 provides the most effective agent for this purpose.
              It was documented by Microsoft here
              https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3200747
              and discussed a million times before here on this site.

              • Volume Z says:

                It’s still important to point out that the occurrence of the issue is triggered solely from the exterior (by an installation’s eligibility for what’s known as a magic patch) and cannot be prevented (or provoked) by the user unless an appropriate version of the Windows Update Client gets released, which has not happened yet for Windows Vista.

                Regards, VZ

        • ch100 says:

          On Vista, try WUMT with the option Include superseded selected, ideally on an upatched computer.
          Tell me what you noticed 🙂

    5. CyGuy says:

      Would like to see some comments about use of the MiniTool with Win10 Pro and especially Home. Healthy New Year to you all!

    6. GE says:

      Hi, how about a link to the minitool.

    7. jmwoods says:

      Nice tool.

      Windows Update though runs as quickly inside Windows 7 Pro on my machine (around 25 seconds to search for updates).

      Include drivers is checked by default.

    8. ch100 says:

      Woody, WU Minitool can assist you your Group B style followers by using the so-called Offline Mode, under which the wsusscn2.cab file is used.
      The Security Updates database from Microsoft can be downloaded from
      https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=74689
      This file is updated regularly by Microsoft and has to be downloaded fresh to be relevant when scanning against it.

    9. Dave says:

      I installed and set up WUMT on Sunday. 1st scan took 45 minutes. it showed nothing new available. I figured that would happen
      because I had run WU about 3 hours earlier. I’m concerned about the LONG run time. Yesterday I ran it again. this time there was a 30 minute run time. Still nothing new.

      I was getting faster run times from WU without the mini tool.

      IMHO, at this time I don’t feel it is a good fit for my Win 7 machine. However, I will not give up YET. Will run again tomorrow and see what happens.

      Dave

      • jmwoods says:

        Try adding the WUMT .exe file to the whitelist in your AV/AM program.

        • ch100 says:

          If this is required, I think that AV/AM is a bigger problem 🙂

          • jmwoods says:

            Some Internet Security Suites can cause issues with slow WAN traffic…Avast used to be famous for this.

            I don’t know about “required”, but it’s an easy try.

            The only way to know for sure is to use a packet analyzer like Wireshark to see what’s happening when WUMT runs, which is a little more complex.

            The tool ran about as fast as the native Windows Update GUI on my system.

      • ch100 says:

        You have a problem with Windows. The scan should not take longer than 5 minutes and even then, it is too long if you are fully patched as you claim. I believe you have corrupted Software Distribution database due to hiding previous updates.
        I think it is worth resetting your WU database to fix the ongoing scanning problems.

        • jmwoods says:

          Just curious…how does DataStore.edb in Software Distribution get corrupted by hiding updates?

          Never heard that in many+years working on Windows
          systems.

          It can become fragemented over time, which is not corruption.

          Easy fix for defragmenting DataStore.edb…

          Open an elevated (Run as Administrator) Command prompt, and execute these three commands, one at a time…

          net stop wuauserv
          esentutl /d %windir%\softwaredistribution\datastore\datastore.edb
          net start wuauserv

          • ch100 says:

            “Corrupted”may not be the appropriate word, but this is for lack of a better one and to facilitate understanding.
            I explained this concept too many times already.
            When you hide an update, it normally has a reference at Microsoft and can be unhidden if required.
            When that hidden update is expired at Microsoft, the reference disappears and you end with an orphaned record in the database without reference on Windows/Microsoft Update servers.
            That can cause timeouts while scanning, so it is not a corruption as such, only that the client-server relation is broken at that time.
            The reason many people think Microsoft somehow unhides their hidden updates is that sometimes there are new patches released under the same number while the old one is expired not long after, KB2952664 is well-known for this behaviour as it had about 20 releases/updates, but it is not unique. In normal conditions (not hiding updates), there would be 2 patches under the same number in Windows Update for a little while, until the old one gets expired.
            Hiding updates breaks the dynamic management of the available patches from Microsoft.

            • jmwoods says:

              Corruption has a totally different meaning.

              For example, disk corruption is different than disk fragmentation.

              Bottom line, hiding updates does not cause corruption, nor is it a bad strategy, especially if a problematic update could be installed accidentally.

    10. Dave says:

      Well, WU took only 3 minutes to run this morning. WUMT took 17 minutes for the same results. Even though WUMT has more features, I will probably remove it later today.

      Will be a busy day with Dr. appointments and errands to run.

      Also, another problem has reared it’s ugly head. SEVERAL of the icons on my desktop have been automatically changed to generic icons. I have no idea what has caused this. Something else for me to do later.

      Dave

      • jmwoods says:

        Donwload and run Shawn Brink’s batch file “Rebuild_Icon_Cache.bat” on SevenForums…

        http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/49819-icon-cache-rebuild.html

      • Steve says:

        This may or may not be useful to you but I’ve been using WUMT for many months on a Win10 32bit. I’ve never had a problem with icons changing. Nor have I had issues with icons on my Win7 64 bit machine on which I only just started testing WUMT. Perhaps you need to look elsewhere for a reason your icons changed? The following link may help
        https://www.startpage.com/do/dsearch?query=rebuild+icon+cache+in+windows&cat=web&pl=opensearch&language=english

        Using the low-spec Win10 device, I don’t mind the time penalty as a trade-off for the better control WUMT gives over Windows update. I’m not trying to say the same is right for you. With Microsoft not offering choices, we are each left facing decisions and chasing methods that better suit our needs. For me, the inconvenience involved initially researching and finding WUMT, using it and updating it outweigh the lack of control over Win10 update.

        I suspect WUMT will be short lived on my Win7 device. However, I can say checking the box to ‘Included superseded’ as suggested previously definitely improved WUMT’s check time.

    11. Dave says:

      Well, I ran WUMT this morning and it only took 3 minutes to finish. MUCH better. WU was run about half an hour later and it also only took about 3 minutes. I guess it must have been just a temperamental computer that took so long the other day.

      Also, I fixed the desktop icon problem by going back to an earlier restore point. Haven’t figured out what happened, but got it fixed.

      Dave

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