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I have multiple machines at home. All of them are running Windows 7 x64. Due to limited bandwidth and slow connection, I want to make them download updates just once and apply to the rest of them. What's the easiest way to accomplish that without resorting to Windows Server specific solutions (WSUS)?

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migrated from serverfault.com Jan 19 '12 at 7:05

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6 Answers 6

I don't know if this the right tool for you, but heise security has a nice solution for packaging Windows Updates:

DIY Service Pack - Installing Windows updates without an internet connection

Looking for manageable Windows updates even without an internet connection? Our offline update 3.0 script collection downloads the entire body of updates for Windows 2000, XP or Server 2003 from Microsoft's servers in one fell swoop and then uses them to create patch packages on CD, DVD or USB stick. Those in turn allow you to update as many PCs as desired.

Update: Windows 7 support is just a matter of time, I think. See this forum post.

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Does it support Win7? The screenshots show it doesn't. –  LeakyCode May 9 '09 at 15:36

You may already have an acceptable solution built right in to Windows 7...

Windows Update on Vista and Windows 7 uses BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) version 3.0 to manage the download of updates; BITS 3.0 can utilize a new feature, peer caching, to improve download performance and bandwidth utilization.

Unfortunately, BITS peer caching is not automagical--the reference I found on TechNet indicates that Vista or Server 2008 is required (I'd say that Windows 7 would qualify there), as is an Active Directory domain (peer caching is only supported in domain networks; the feature is not available in workgroups or home networks). You will need to use Group Policy to enable BITS peer caching.

I don't recall where I first heard about this feature, but I was able to find good reference material about it in the Microsoft Windows Server Update Services 3.0 SP1 Operations Guide. The interesting stuff is found in Appendix E: Configuring BITS 2.0 and 3.0 for Download Performance. The appropriate Group Policy settings to enable BITS 3.0 peer caching are found at the end of Appendix E.

(Sorry about not including hyperlinks; apparantly new users aren't allowed to embed them--a quick search on TechNet should bring up the appropriate document easily enough, however...)

Assuming you have a domain network, I believe peer caching will provide benefit whether you're using a WSUS server or Microsoft Update as your update source--both use BITS to distribute the bits, as it were... BITS peer caching should give you all of the bandwidth-conserving benefits of a WSUS server without the need to stand up and maintain WSUS.

While I have successfully used WSUS to manage updates in both domain and non-domain (read: workgroup) environments, it would seem to be a bit overkill for your situation...

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If I had a domain network, I'd have Windows Server installed and would use WSUS anyway. Thanks for the suggestion and info about BITS 3.0. Didn't know that. +1. –  LeakyCode May 27 '09 at 9:26

You may be able to simply install a caching proxy server on one machine and point both computers at it.

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That's too much work and I don't want to keep a machine running all the time. I would have used WSUS if I wanted to do that. –  LeakyCode May 9 '09 at 9:32

Thing is, each machine might need different updates depending on their state and installed Microsoft applications. Which of them would be your "baseline" to use for checking for updates with and would you then miss any?

Apart from the above dilemma, you can use vbscript to download updates without installing them, making them easier to distribute. Or you could go for CTUpdate which I bet will support Windows 7 pretty soon which creates iso images of all availabe updates for a specific Windows version includihg a silent installer.

Both these approaches fetches all updates for the specific Windows version which might very well use more bandwidth in total than the built-in updater which would defer downloading the stuff you don't need.

If you can identify the names of the updates, the vbscript option is very easy to instruct to download a specific update - which I guess, sinces it's a script, could be somehow automated.

There are apparently hacks for installing WSUS (yes not only SUS) on XP and Vista workstations which might work for Windows 7 as well.

Finally, setting one machine to "download and notify" and the others to do nothing, you could get to the downloaded updates on that machine and copy them out to the others from the softwaredistribution folder. You might still miss updates though.

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Have a look at AutoPatcher. I have used it in the past to download updates and install on thirty computers. I dont

AutoPatcher could be described as an off-line Windows Update. AutoPatcher provides an interface to a large collection of updates, common applications and registry tweaks, that can be easily and quickly applied to your computer system.

However, I doubt they will support Windows 7 before it is released.

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What about a temporary proxy server? You can run IPCop from a USB or live CD, and it has a plugin specifically to cache software updates. You could run it just whenever you need to update your PCs.

Although given that it's a very small and efficient piece of software and you have a slow connection, it would benefit you to have it running all the time, IMHO (in a VM even, in case you don't have a spare machine).

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It'd work but I prefer an offline solution. It has a couple benefits: I can use it if I reinstall Windows and also, I can download updates via a fast connection and run it at home. –  LeakyCode May 9 '09 at 15:35

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