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Windows Server 2003 Repair installation causes Automatic Updates and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) to no longer recognize that updates are needed, leaving the server in a vulnerable state until Windows Service Packs and updates are re-applied
After performing a repair install of Windows Server 2003 using the Repair feature of Windows Setup, your server will no longer automatically download updates via Automatic Updates or from a Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) server even if it has been configured to do so. There is no warning reported and no visible sign that Automatic Updates or WSUS are no longer functioning as configured.
Since the repair install will remove all Service Packs and security updates that may have been installed on your server, you cannot rely on Automatic Updates or WSUS to re-apply Service Packs or updates to protect your server. You will need to manually install Windows Service Packs and updates to protect your computer. Until you do your server will be unprotected against any vulnerabilities that were previously resolved by Service Packs or security updates.
A Repair install of Windows removes any Service Packs and updates that were previously installed. The repair install also replaces Windows Update client files on your server with older versions of these files. As a result, Automatic Updates and WSUS believe that your server is still up-to-date and will not download or install any Service Packs or updates that your server needs after the Repair install. Since Automatic Updates and WSUS believe the server is up to date on Service PAcks and updates, no warnings or error messages are generated
To resolve the Automatic Updates or WSUS problem (and to protect your server against vulnerabilities) go to either the Windows Update or Microsoft Update web sites and install any needed Service Packs or updates. Once you have downloaded and installed at least one critical update from the Windows Update or Microsoft Update web site, Automatic Updates and WSUS will once again correctly detect, download or install Service Packs or updates depending on what settings you have selected for Automatic Updates or WSUS on your server.
Thanks to Ron Martell and Larry Samuels for helping to diagnose why the Automatic Updates and WSUS processes were failing. Further thanks to the Microsoft Windows Update engineering team for clarifying the issues involved in causing AU to fail.