Server Solver

Missing Computers in WSUS

For some reason, this admin can't see all the computers when working with his Windows Server Update Services server.

Zubair: I've installed and configured the Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) server but somehow, I am not seeing any of my computers in the All Computers, Unassigned Computers, or even in the Computer Groups that I created. Is that because my computers are in a workgroup? Do they need to join a domain? My clients are running Windows XP Professional.
— Name withheld

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Your computers do not need to join a domain to take advantage of WSUS server. You can leave your computers in a workgroup and still add them to any computer groups you want. For various reasons some small organizations may have a group of computers that they would rather not join the domain. However, they may prefer to update all the patches on these computers by using the WSUS server.

Computer groups are created in WSUS to manage computers and deploy patches in a more controlled fashion. However, to add computers to your computer groups you need to configure either Group Policy (for computers in the domain) or Local Computer Policy (for computers in a workgroup). In your case, you have computers that are part of a workgroup. So, you should follow this procedure:

  1. Go to your Windows XP client and start a new Microsoft Management Console (MMC). At Start, Run, type MMC.
  2. Use Ctrl+M to add a new snap-in.
  3. Click Add, and then add the Group Policy Object Editor for the Local Computer.
  4. Click Close, and then click OK.
  5. Expand the Local Computer Policy.
  6. Under Computer Configuration, go to Administrative Templates, Windows Components, Windows Update. The result is shown in Figure 1.
  7. In the right-hand pane, double-click Specify intranet Microsoft update service location. Note:You can also configure the option Automatic Updates detection frequency if you want. The default is 22 hours.
  8. Configure the settings as shown in Figure 2. Replace MARS with the name of your WSUS server.
  9. Click OK and then close the MMC without saving it.
Configure local policy for Windows Update
Figure 1. Configuring local policy for Windows Update (Click image to view larger version.)

Specify intranet update service location
Figure 2. Specifying the intranet update service location

Within about 20 minutes, your computer should show up in WSUS server under Unassigned Computers category. If you don’t want to wait 20 minutes, execute the following command on your Windows XP client at the command prompt:

wuauclt.exe /detectnow

Your computer will show up in WSUS right away. To move it to a different Computer Group, click "Move the selected computer under Tasks" in the upper left corner.

About the Author

Zubair Alexander, MCSE, MCT, MCSA and Microsoft MVP is the founder of SeattlePro Enterprises, an IT training and consulting business. His experience covers a wide range of spectrum: trainer, consultant, systems administrator, security architect, network engineer, author, technical editor, college instructor and public speaker. Zubair holds more than 25 technical certifications and Bachelor of Science degrees in Aeronautics & Astronautics Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Information Systems. His Web site,, is dedicated to technical resources for IT professionals. Zubair may be reached at

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