Whether you're working on a workstation you've never supported before or trying to determine how vulnerable your workstations are to security attacks, it's important to know which updates have been applied. So how can you quickly find out which updates have been applied to a system, especially if the system is not presently connected to the Internet? Newer operating systems like Windows XP will tell you what updates have been applied to the operating system, but the updates are a lot less obvious in Windows 98. There are several methods you can use to check which patches have been applied to a Windows 98 system.
Use Windows Update
If the system is bootable, you can easily see what updates have been applied by using Windows Update. Click Start | Windows Update; IE should open and take you to the Windows Update Web site. Click the View Installation History link on the site's left-hand navigation bar and a list of all updates applied to the system via Windows Update will appear. The list gives you the status, date, description, and source of each update and you can sort on any of these four items. Just remember that this list contains only updates performed through Windows Update. If the computer has been restored after a crash or applications have been uninstalled and reinstalled, some updates on the list may no longer be installed.
Check the log files
If the system isn't bootable from the hard drive, you can still learn which updates have been applied by booting from a Windows 98 boot floppy. When you boot the machine from such a floppy, you will be taken to a Command Prompt. Switch to the partition containing the Windows operating system and search for one of two files: Wulog.txt and Wuhistv3.log. Either file will give you the information that you need. Assuming that Windows is installed on your C: drive, you can locate the files using the following commands:
dir wulog.txt /s
dir wuhistv3.log /s
Now, let's assume that you found the Wulog.txt file in the C:\Windows directory. You could view the file's contents by using the following commands:
type wulog.txt |more
The last line of the command set will display the contents of the Wulog.txt file one screen at a time. You could also use the Edit text editor to view the file providing that it's on the boot disk or the hard drive. Just look for the Update Information section for a full listing of the updates that have been applied. Again, remember that these files contain only information on updates performed through Windows Update. Changes made to the system outside of Windows Update may not be reflected.
System management software
The final method that you can use to determine the updates added to a Windows 98 machine is to use a system management solution such as Microsoft's SMS, Novell's ZENworks, various products from Altiris, or a similar product. However, these products are often expensive and are normally used only on enterprise-level networks.