RE: patching servers...

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Murad Talukdar [mailto:talukdar_m@xxxxxxxxxx]
> Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2006 12:06 AM
> To: focus-ms@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: patching servers...
> Hi all,
> I wanted to get a few ideas of what people do to test their
> systems once
> they have applied a patch/hotfix.
> Currently I pull one of the hotswap drives that has the OS
> mirrored on it
> and then let it run with the patch applied for a few days/week before
> letting it rebuild.
> In that time I will check things like event logs/performance
> and do some
> general 'listening' for any issues.
> Does anyone have a more scientific method? What do you keep
> an eye on? Also,
> Do you actually ever check whether the vulnerability(for
> example) that the
> patch was designed to thwart has actually been plugged?
> In the last two years I've only had one instance of a patch
> causing an OS to
> fail--and then just removing and then reapplying the patch
> seemed to work
> just fine. However, I don't want to get complacent.
> Kind Regards
> Murad Talukdar

I'm an advocate of standard configurations and fast patching. I've had a
server hosed by Windows Updates once, but the way it had been set up
probably didn't help things much.

I typically will patch my own workstation first (if it is a
cross-platform patch) and restart. Then I'll patch a couple
non-production servers as they aren't as important and typically have
messier configurations. If those work out then I move on to the rest of
the non-production servers, then production servers.

When it comes to domain controllers, I run dcdiag first and then
transfer any FSMO roles off the server I'm going to patch (and I never
patch more than one DC at once). After the transfer I run dcdiag again
just to be sure. Then I patch the server and if it comes back up I do
the rest of the DCs in a similar fashion.

The time I wait between servers depends on how important and complex the
patch is. For the WMF patch I wasted no time getting it on all the
servers: it's an (was? Whatever) 0-day exploit and frankly if I don't
see pretty thumbnails on my servers who cares. A service pack (important
but complicated) or Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool (not
important but simple) can wait a few days.

Also if you have a test environment you should load it up with
everything you can and make some configuration changes. A fresh install
of Windows 2003 isn't a real good patch test for a heavy-duty server.

Derick Anderson


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