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Old 02-07-2020, 03:34 PM   #29
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 9,729

Sooo...I think I've finally battled Win8.1 into submission! I don't want to jinx things but, wing-wonging has been reduced and things are perking along.

Using WSUS Offline for updates is definitely the way to go--if one is looking for Windows updates to begin with--however, it did cause an issue that sent me down a troll toll path for a couple of days. Part of that was caused by not realizing the importance of a change of note displayed on the Windows Update screen in the Control Panel and so I went looking for the solution to the wrong problem.

This led me an unmerry chase one of which was a Microsoft webpage with a number of different approaches none of which worked--although I did learn about using dism.exe which I'd never used before and appears (via mirrors and fog) to do useful things behind the curtain...'-}}

Anyway, I finally noticed the Control Panel Windows Update note of "You receive updates: Managed by your system administrator" and that was the key piece of information on why when I clicked on the "Check for Updates" button, I received the following error: "Error: WindowsUpdate_80072EE6 OR WindowsUpdate_dt000".

Doing a search on the "you receive..." note (vs. the error message) led me to a forum posting which referenced a Registry key ( HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUp date ) and while looking at that key, I noticed a subkey ( HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUp date\AU ) with the data key "UseWUServer" which can be set to either: "1" (The computer gets its updates from a WSUS server) or "0" (The computer gets its updates from Microsoft Update)--"UseWUServer" had been set to "1" when I used WSUS Offline to do the Windows update. There is a very informative github web page--"Registry keys for configuring Automatic Updates & WSUS" with detailed info that I found quite helpful--scroll down the page to the "Registry keys for Automatic Update configuration options" for more info on "UseWUServer"

I changed "UseWUServer" setting from "1" to "0" (zero), exited Regedit, rebooted and now, Control Panel > Windows Update showed "You receive updates: from Windows only". I could then successfully do a "check for updates" and the Windows Update status display no longer showed "0 Updates" and "Never" for the last time a Windows Update was performed.

As part of that Microsoft diagnostic webpage referenced above, I did run (via Command Prompt):

Dism.exe /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

followed by (strongly suggested by Microsoft and also run via Command Prompt):

sfc /scannow

I need to research dism because I don't really know what it does but while it didn't fix the "You receive updates: Managed by your system administrator" issue, the system seemed to run better (less wing-wonging) and, interestingly enough, the missing drivers (after having done the Refresh) were reestablished after having run the two commands above which was nice.

All of the above was due to ZoneAlarm Firewall Pro's refusal to install when (according to it), no Windows Updates had been installed. Having resolved that (non) issue (as far as I was concerned), I (finally) installed Avast Free antivirus (version 8.x rather than my preferred version 7.0.1474 which was deemed "too old" by the incr4dibly annoying Win8.1 software cop) doing a custom install--File and Web Shields installed and no other offered components. I could now started testing different software firewalls.

I installed the current ZoneAlarm Pro Firewall and basically, I loathed it. The UI sucks, you can't resize the software window so you practically go blind trying to read the display, there is no documentation and, ZA's forums were hacked months ago so there are no forums either. I put up with it for about a week before I uninstalled it. I'm going to see if I can get back the money I paid for the Pro version.

Next, I installed MBAM Windows Firewall Control (by binisoft) which has a decent interface but, I wanted to use "Medium" filtering which is supposed to block anything that does not have a rule established. The problem was that I could not get online (Firefox, Palemoon) using "Medium" filtering even though I'd established rules for the browsers and no pop-up displayed to let me know there was an issue. I played with this for a few days trying this and that and finally decided, it wasn't worth the effort. It's interesting that MBAM has purchased WFC but offers no support in their own forums. There is a very long thread in the wilderssecurity fourms (214 pages worth of thread).

Next, I installed Sphinx Software's Windows10 Firewall Control (works on Windows 7/8/8.1/10) and it's the winner with a clean, clear and legibile interface, intelligible documentation and the pop-up notices I want when something new is trying go online. There is a free version but, I opted to pay ($14.95) for the "Basic" version because the free version does not allow user control of Windows' system processes--and, no, I don't trust Microsoft...'-}}

I still have more work to do on the system but it's certainly in a more stable state than it was the last time I posted...

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