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We have a WSUS server serving around 300 PC's and a couple of dozen servers and a discussion came up at work as to what products to include.

We have a single SQL 2005 instance on one of the servers and it has NEVER been updated. My first thought was to just tick the box for SQL 2005 and let WSUS do it's thing to upgrade to the latest service pack at least.

One of the other guys here has the opinion that having updates that are relevant to only a small selection of hosts would effect the performance of WSUS as a whole, claiming that each update does a 'check' against all the hosts or something similar. My argument is that manually updating these servers is obviously not working as the admins are not paying attention to what is needed.

So my question is:

  1. Do updates that only effect a sub-set of the hosts effect the overall performance of the WSUS server in relation to ALL the hosts? (disk space is not an issue at this point)

  2. Is there any performance justification for or against manually updating small amounts of products?

Basically I'm needing a rebuttal against his argument and I'm unable to find any concrete documentation to prove him wrong.

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

As I understand the process, the actual "does this update apply to me" check is handled on the client side. It downloads a list of available updates for its products and does the check. Obviously, if there are updates available for its products the check will take longer.

However, the time to perform the updates is significantly longer than the time to check for updates. Secondly, the check for updates is done as a background task so performance shouldn't really matter. The check-for-updates is designed from the bolts out to be performed randomly during a week so it taking 30 seconds instead of 12 really should only matter if your update-application method is "manually update everything from console, with all auto-updates, even check-for-update turned off", which is an anti-pattern (don't do that).

Which is to say, the only performance impact to the WSUS server for having more products on it is:

  • The time to DL the updates
  • The time to reconcile the database when doing cleans
  • The time it takes to approve updates

On the client side, you shouldn't even notice.

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That was my point of view, the actual check itself is a matter of seconds and would have no bearing at all if the update does not apply to a particular client. The server performance itself was not the issue, I think it was just someone being stubborn because they didn't understand the process. Thanks for your response. –  mhouston100 Dec 3 '12 at 22:16
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I don't know that I've ever heard WSUS and performance discussed in the same context.

The updates once approved are static content, unless the disk was highly fragmented at the time they were downloaded they are going to sit on the disk fairly sequentially.

So in direct response to your questions:

1) WSUS can download rollup packages to reduce the need for lots of small packages and from a distribution and client installation perspective this is ideal and takes less time to install then the individual updates.

2) Yes of course, but not every client machine is going to be in the same state, there are already built-in mechanisms I mentioned above that reduce the number of packages to install, but you're at Microsoft's mercy here.

I do recommend that you at least point your servers to WSUS for reporting purposes, even if the process to patch them is manual.

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Just to clarify, I was only referring to the performance of the client when it does the checks to see if it is eligible for an update. This is basically a 'prove it to someone who doesn't know anything about it' scenario. This person was trying to insinuate that 'OK'ing' a large update that applies to a small amount of hosts would effect the client side WSUS checks for ALL hosts - when in reality it is just a simple check against a list of products and would not really have any real-world bearing. –  mhouston100 Dec 3 '12 at 22:20
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