Windows updates! “Aww geez, R4mzy, now why’d you go and irritate everyone with such opening words?” Fret not, proverbial commentator, for I am about to tell of a way to make those words a little less headache-inducing! The thing is called WSUS Offline Updates, and you’ll need to vault the Read More button for details.
Oh and, err, a little belated, but Happy New Year and/or whatever it is you do over the December period.
Okay, I’ll break it down: WSUS Offline Update (WOU) is an open-source (GNU GPL) application that can be used to download the updates of the last few editions of Microsoft Windows and Office, and then install those updates on systems that could not get them otherwise (be that due to no/slow/proxied/firewalled connections, an aversion to duplicate downloads by similar systems, shits and giggles, or, y’know, whatever).
WSUS, in this context, stands for Windows Server Update Services! A typically corporate-used Microsoft solution for keeping a curated update repository from which said corporate’s computers would fetch updates (as opposed to fetching them directly from Microsoft on the internet and possibly ruining sensitive systems and security measures with software untested for that corporate’s environment).
I have fallen in love with WOU and its bandwidth-easing goodness. I use it to keep my home systems updated by downloading updates on a (much) faster line at work and keeping them for installation later. With Microsoft’s recent attitude of no-you-can’t-disable-or-choose-or-pause-updates-you-pitiful-broadband-peasant for Windows 10, WOU is a life-saver when one would rather not be lagging all over the place while trying pwn pedestrians with a truck, a sidewalk, and friends firing wildly from the windows in GTA Online. Or maybe you or someone else on your network would just like to watch something on YouTube or WILL YOU JUST SHUT IT DOWN OR SOMETHING JESUS NOTHING WILL LOAD! Lastly, having the updates downloaded and ready to install makes updating fresh Windows computers a far less-annoying process.
Pro-tip: If you use a wireless/wifi network with your Windows 10 system, you can prevent updates (and maybe other background Windows traffic, but I only know of the updates) from being downloaded without your say so by telling Windows that your wireless network is a metered connection (ie. a network on which you’ll be charged for your bytes).
Do this by navigating to (Start >) Settings > Network & Internet > Advanced options > and hit the metered connection toggle button. You’ll need to be connected to your wireless network while you do that, and repeat it on any other networks you want to limit.
Mobile broadband networks, as far as I know, are set to metered by default. There doesn’t seem to be a way to do this for Ethernet, USB tethered, or other connection types though (at least not natively in Windows).
It appears the process for setting a network as metered has been updated some (which caused me great consternation when I was trying to show it off the other day). Now, once you’ve gotten to Network & Internet, either click directly on the currently-connected network or select Manage known networks to get at the metered network toggle button. A nice effect of this is that you can now control this setting for networks you’re not currently connected to as well.
So how do you use WOU? Well first, download it from the project page (10.3.1 was the latest at time of writing). Now extract the .zip file, which will extract to a “wsusoffline” folder, and open that folder. Right-click UpdateGenerator.exe and run it as administrator (not running as administrator causes the application to error when displaying its completion log, but everything else seemed to work fine). You should be greeted by a screen much like the second screenshot in this post, where you select what updates you’d like to build a repository of. You can even set proxy information or specify a particular WSUS server for WOU to download from. When you’re done hit start and a window like the first screenshot will appear, close, and reappear (a few times) while WOU checks for and downloads the updates you want (it’ll download to the directory from which you ran UpdateGenerator.exe – so make sure you have up to 10-20GB of free space on the drive, depending on your selections). When it’s done, it’ll tell you.
To install the updates, copy your now-bigger wsusoffline folder to the target machine (or external HDD or flash drive or…), open the “client” folder and run UpdateInstaller.exe. You should see something like screenshot number three. Select the options you’d like for installation on this computer (the greyed out options are likely already installed or not applicable), and decide whether or not you’ll babysit the system or use the automatic reboot and recall function (I have had mixed experiences with this, where it has worked flawlessly and oddly, not continuing setup, on similar systems – if you have the time, I suggest babysitting it but don’t worry about anything breaking if you use the auto option – it’s not that kind of odd). A fresh Windows 7 system will update and restart and continue updating some four to six times.
That’s more-or-less that. I’m not getting too deep into it and really what I’ve said pretty much covers how I use WOU and I’m happy stopping there. Pretty nifty, yeah? But, there are caveats:
- WOU will only fetch security, critical, and important updates so the optional ones will still need downloading the regular way if you want them.
- Those of you who, like me, have your Windows 10 systems updating on the Microsoft Insider build channels, will still need to be doing your new build downloads through regular Windows Updates. WOU doesn’t fetch those build images.
- There may be a way to individually select or filter the updates downloaded or installed (by KB number, perhaps), but I’ve not looked into that (I haven’t needed it). There are ways of preventing individual updates being installed on a system though, and if you want that you might start your search here.
So there you have it. WOU. Jolly good show.