Keep track of Windows 2000 hotfixes with Qfecheck

No matter how organized you try to be, sometimes it?s hard to keep track of all of the hotfixes you need to install on your server. Did you install Q123456 or not? John Sheesley shows you how to use Qfecheck to find out.

Having Microsoft steadily release streams of hotfixes is a good thing. By releasing hotfixes when problems occur, Microsoft ensures that your system is up to date and running at its peak. But can you have too much of a good thing? Sometimes it’s challenging just to manage all of those hotfixes and make sure the appropriate ones are consistently loaded across your network.

How do you keep track of them all? Microsoft created Qfecheck to help keep you organized. Qfecheck is a command-line utility that verifies which hotfixes are installed on your servers. It’s easy to obtain and easy to use.

Why you need it
When administering a multiserver Windows 2000 network, it’s important to consistently apply hotfixes across all of your servers. Problems can occur when some servers have hotfixes installed that conflict with servers in which these hotfixes have not been added. By identifying which hotfixes have been applied where, Qfecheck can help you maintain consistency and eliminate potential conflicts.

This utility also comes in handy for new administrators to existing Windows 2000 networks that were poorly documented by predecessors. In such a case, you can use Qfecheck to make sure the most up-to-date and relevant hotfixes have been applied. The same would apply if your network were poorly documented; use Qfecheck to help you make a complete list of applied hotfixes.

How it works
Qfecheck works by checking the server’s registry and reading the information about installed hotfixes stored in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Updates key. It then compares the values store about installed hotfixes with the file versions actually residing on the server. If Qfecheck finds an invalid version or can’t find a file associated with a key, it will generate an error.

Qfecheck also works with Windows File Protection (WFP) to ensure that only valid files exist on the server. WFP maintains a set of catalogs that record file signatures of key system files. If Qfecheck validates a file in the registry but can’t reconcile the registry information with the file signatures in the WFP catalogs, it will also generate an error.

When you run Qfecheck, it can display the results to the screen or to a log file. Don’t confuse this log file with any of the logs displayed in Event Viewer. You determine the name of the log and can view it with any text editor.

Where to get it and how to use it
You can download Qfecheck from the Microsoft Download Center. Click the Q282784_W2K_SP3_x86_en.EXE link to download the file to a temporary directory on your administrative workstation. The file is only 113 Kb, so it won't take long to download.

You can run the executable to install Qfecheck. It installs like any other hotfix you’ve installed on your server; the Q282784_W2K_SP3_x86_en.EXE installation file copies Qfecheck.exe to your server’s C:\WINNT\system32 folder.

To run Qfecheck, drop to a command prompt, type qfecheck, and press [Enter]. Qfecheck will analyze your system and display the service pack level and installed hotfixes as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
Qfecheck analyzes the hotfixes installed on your Windows 2000 server.

If you want Qfecheck to produce a log, type qfecheck /l. It names the log file computer.log where computer is the name of the computer on which you run Qfecheck. You can read this logfile with any text editor.

Qfecheck only tells you the Q number of the installed hotfixes. It doesn’t expressly tell you what the hotfixes are or what they’re fixing. You’ll need to check the Microsoft Knowledge Base to verify what each Q number represents.

Each hotfix should report as being Current On System. If there’s a problem with a hotfix, Qfecheck will display This Hotfix Should Be Reinstalled next to the Q number. You may be able to find out why Qfecheck wants the hotfix reinstalled by typing qfecheck /v and pressing [Enter]. Qfecheck will sometimes report the specific parts of the hotfix that it can’t validate.

Keeping track of all of the hotfixes you apply to your network and making sure they’re consistently applied across your network can be a chore. And for new administrators, finding out if the latest hotfixes have been applied can be a guessing game. Fortunately, Qfecheck can quickly list which hotfixes have been applied to your network—another handy tool for the busy admin.

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