Stop Windows Server 2003 Hanging When Installing Updates

Some of the servers that I manage in locations have a nasty habit of hanging on the final stage of rebooting when trying to apply Windows Updates automatically.

In most locations, I use WSUS to deploy updates around the site which is OK, but when it comes to servers problems arise.

After roaming around on the internet, I found a useful thread at EggHeadCafe¬†which describes the problem I’m having. Apparently, turning off the default user screensaver using the following registry key will solve the problem:

HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\control panel\screensaveractive
Set the value to 0

This would make sense, as there is a similar problem in Windows XP where if you try to shutdown the system with the power button (or an update) while the screen saver is active, the system will shutdown until the screensaver is turned off by touching the keyboard or mouse.

I’ll find out if this works in a month’s time!

EDIT: Just logged onto one of my servers with this change and it works a treat.

Office 2007 Deployment Computer Startup Scripts

Now that MS Office 2007 is doing the rounds, I suppose it’s time to lookat some of its shortcomings.

It has a few when it comes to deployment. The biggest nuisance being deployment.

You have four options:

  • Install it on a PC manually (not great)
  • Deploy through group policy with no customisations
  • Use a deployment system such as SMS
  • Use a computer startup script

You may as well just say “no” to the first one. Anything more than a handful of PCs and you have a tedious task.

Group Policy has always been my method of choice. Most of my clients have less than 100 PCs, so Group Policy deployment is ideal. But as pointed out in the list, you cannot customise the installation with any defaults.

SMS is out. It’s not worth explaining to clients why it’s a good idea to buy software that makes my life easier. Even though the effort and management might simplify things somewhat.

So we’re stuck with computer startup scripts. Another method I hate – but if you want to control Office Deployments, then this is the way to do it. Thankfully, Aaron Parker has posted some startup scripts to help with this using the MSP method.

If you are using a network with WSUS, then updates become a non-issue, and I think that the only time to need to redeploy is if you decide to change the application packages that you want. At which point, you could check that executables of the programs exist or record your own registry entries that you can check for.

It’s not a great method (I’ve managed to avoid having to use ANY computer startup scripts in 2000-based networks) – but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work. Especially if you make sure to use the quiet options in the Setup /admin tool.

Office, eh?