Windows Update & Windows Update Catalog
As always, check the Windows Update site for a good reference on what you’re missing (the site does not always display the latest info, but it’s better that nothing).
The Microsoft Windows Update site (also known as WU) is a site made for Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 (this link does NOT support Win9X, ME or NT 4.0). Once you’re there, you can scan your computer for any missing or new updates, and download them to your computer.
Note: Download whatever you want from Windows Update, but never, never, never ever download and install any driver from that site! Drivers supplied through Windows Update are either old and obsolete or are simply the wrong version of driver for your hardware. There have been too many reports of drivers from WU causing problems, especially with XP users. This is a known fact. If you think you need a driver update try to go to the hardware’s manufacturer’s site instead (just because YOU haven’t had a problem doesn’t mean that others haven’t. Maybe it’s an urban legend, maybe not, but I will stick to vendor websites rather than WU for my driver updates.)
Windows Update Catalog
If you ever need to re-apply a patch, or if you want to install the patches on multiple computers – this might be a problem, because after downloading all the updates, Windows Update installs them right away and then erases the downloaded files from your computer.
To fix this problem you could do the following:
Go to the Windows Update site, on the left pane of the window, click “Personalize Windows Update”, then make sure you mark the “Display the link to the Windows Update Catalog under See Also” check box.
Then, click the Windows Update Catalog on the left pane of the window.
After the page on the right displays you can click “Find updates for Microsoft Windows operating systems” and choose your OS. I suggest NOT to click “Find driver updates for hardware devices” and NEVER to download any driver from this site. I’ve heard horror stories about what might happen to your system if you do so. If you need a hardware driver – go to the hardware manufacturer’s site and download it from there.
You can then choose any patch you need, and after you specify a download path (to your local computer’s hard disk or to a network share) you can begin to download the files.
One good part about this download part is the fact that it won’t download files that are already present in the path you’ve specified, so as long as you always remember where the files are, and you didn’t change their name, you can safely select ALL patches knowing it will only download what you DON’T have.
After the files have been downloaded you can install them on your own computer or install them manually or via other means to remote computers.
To centrally maintain your own “Windows Update” server – see the Software Update Services (SUS) page.
See the Windows Update Problems page for info on problems encountered with Windows Update reliability.
To automatically configure Windows Update downloads and installation – read the Configure Auto Windows Update page.