Which Patches?

It came up in conversation with a friend recently that he believed that a Windows Update (hotfix, patch, whatever you want to call it) broke something on his computer.  What can I say? It happens… sometimes.  No problem Fred, all you have to do is roll back the updates that were applied last week and if that was really the problem then it should resolve the issue.

“Well, it wasn’t quite last week…

It turns out that Fred (his real name is protected to protect the usually intelligent friend) has had this problem for a couple of months, but didn’t say anything to me, because he didn’t want to bother me.  He figured he would just ask me about it the next time he came over.

For a decent analogy of why this is a bad idea, I want you to imagine getting a splinter on the side of your foot.  If you sit down, remove the splinter, clean the wound, and put a bandage on it then sometime in the next few days your foot will heal.  The alternative is to wait… keep up business as usual, walk through the pain, keep sweating and getting it dirty.  In the same few days as before you will likely have something with the adjectives festering and infected applied to it.

Okay, here we are.  Fred’s computer has a festering infected wound, and it’s my job to clean it up.  He goes home and asks me what to do first.

“Please send me a list of the updates that have been installed since you realized there was a problem.”  He sent me a screenshot of Windows Update.

Okay, that is one way to go… but a screen shot is a lot less useful than a text file. So here’s what you would do:

  1. Open a Windows PowerShell console.
  2. Navigate to a directory where you can save files (hint: NOT the root of your profile… try c:\Users\YourName\Documents).
  3. Enter the following cmdlet:

Get-WmiObject -class win32_QuickFixEngineering –Property Description,hotfixID| Export-Csv Updates.csv

This will create a CSV file of all of your patches, which if you were to open it in a text editor would look like this:


Not very nice, huh?  But if we were to open it with a spreadsheet that recognizes comma separated value files, this is what you will get:


This is a much more useful file for an IT Professional to work with, as you have data, and not simply an image file of data.

I hope this helps!


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