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While troubleshooting a particular technology, there are some key steps that should be done before start reviewing data and performing troubleshooting itself. We can summarize the troubleshooting process in the following core phases: 

  1. Understanding the problem.
  2. Collecting data.
  3. Analyzing data.
  4. Performing an action towards the resolution of the problem.
  5. Re-evaluate and see if the action plan succeeded.
  6. If it did, document the actions that were done in order to fix the problem.
  7. If it didn’t, re-evaluate the initial action plan and the initial findings, look for gaps and areas that can be explored further. Elaborate another data gathering plan and move back to step 2.

While troubleshooting a technology such as Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) you also need to identify where the issue is located (client or server) in order to correctly perform data gathering. Sometimes data gathering phase must be done in both locations (client and server) at the same time in order to better understand what’s happening. It is also important to mention that during phase 1 (understanding the problem) it is highly recommended that you have a clear understanding of the topology where WSUS is located. Drawing the topology will help you to identify potential points of failure and will assist you asking for follow up questions. For example: is WSUS behind a firewall? Is the firewall allowing anonymous access from WSUS to the Internet? These are following up questions that can assist you while scoping the issue and understanding the problem. Make sure to document all those details, this way you can go back and review your notes while analyzing the data to double check the scenario and the details of it. 

The goal of this document is to give you a troubleshooting framework for WSUS and at the same have a single location for you to add new troubleshooting scenarios and techniques for WSUS. As stated in the initial paragraph of this document, we strongly encourage you to enhance this article.

WSUS Components

In order to have a better experience troubleshooting WSUS it is recommended that you have a brief understanding of the WSUS components. Client and Server components can be found in the articles below: 

Another core foundation while troubleshooting WSUS is the understanding of the Windows Update Agent result codes and setup return codes. The articles below cover these areas:

WSUS Installation and Synchronization Issues

Even before having WSUS ready to deploy updates a common scenario that can happen is not be able to install WSUS or you are able to install but unable to perform synchronization. This section describes some of the common WSUS installation/synchronization issues: 

Server Administration Issues

While administering a WSUS Server there are many scenarios that can happen and will require further troubleshooting. Here are some important resources in this area: 

There are also scenarios where the troubleshooting will be done on the server and client side, for example when WSUS Agents are not reporting to the Server. Here are some important resources on this area: 

Another scenario where troubleshooting is done on both sides is when the issue is related with Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS). Here are some important resources related to BITS: 

Client Administration Issues

If it was identified during the scoping phase that the issue is related to the client, there are some troubleshooting techniques that can be done to make sure client is working properly. The main resources for this area are listed below: 


There are many tools that can be used while troubleshooting WSUS, here are some examples: 

Related Articles

Here are some related articles from Microsoft and also other sources such as but not limited to partners, MVPs and IT PROs: 

See Also

This article was originally written by: 

Yuri Diogenes, Senior Technical Writer
Windows Server iX | IT Pro Security
Microsoft Corporation
Yuri’s Blog: http://blogs.technet.com/yuridiogenes
Team’s Blog: http://blogs.technet.com/b/securitycontent
Twitter: http://twitter.com/yuridiogenes  

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