Windows Server 2016: Empirical proof of slow Update installs

[German]Administrators of Windows Server 2016 systems have been plagued by very slow update installation since the release of this operating system. Now I have empirical test data showing how lame the server are when installing updates – compared with Windows Server 2019. And Windows 10 V1607 LTSC clients are probably affected in the same way.


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What exactly is this about?

In forums such as Microsoft’s Answers, frustrated administrators have been complaining for some time about the extremely slow update installs on Windows Server 2016 (LTSC). In this Technet thread a user called it a nightmare, and in Microsoft’s User Voice there are two entries here and here that complain about an update installation speed problem. If updates are installed, the server will be down for hours at the required restart, or it will be idled with the display ‘Windows is being prepared …’. 

An unacceptable situation for administrators. Some of them are now shifting update installations to the weekend so that company employees can work during the week. While Apple’s says ‘It just works’, IT admins in the Microsoft universe have to spend their weekends trying to keep the stuff running.

Detailed description in the Technet forum

This Technet thread from July 2017 describes the administrators’ dilemma quite precisely: A customer of the Thread Starter runs a number of Windows servers, ranging from Windows Server 2008 R2, through Windows Server 2012 / R2 to Windows Server 2016. It is noticeable that Windows Server 2016 is extremely slow when installing updates. While the older Windows Server variants are ready with an update installation after an hour, the administrator in question writes, the machines with Windows Server 2016 sometimes needs one day for updates until they are operational again. A no go in my opinion.

A survey shows the dissatisfaction

I had addressed this issue in summer of 2018 within my blog post Windows Server 2016: Slow updates. Some user comments confirmed that observation.


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(Source: Survey on Borncity)

A few weeks later I started a poll (see Survey: Slow Windows Server 2016 Update installs?) on this topic here within my blog. In the survey with 436 participants 96% confirmed a slow update installation (see graphic above). However, the sample size of the participants is quite small.

An empirical analysis

Blog reader Karl has now given me the results of an empirical study he carried out on the subject. He measured the individual times for download, installation and restart as well as the total time for the update installation. The following tweet already shows the trend:

The following table shows the results of various measurements for Windows Server 2016 LTSC Core and Windows Server 2016 LTSC GUI test machines compared to their Windows Server 2019 counterparts. 

 

Search Updates

Download*

Install

Restart / Apply / Logon

Total Time (roughly)

Server 2019 LTSC Core

3s

11s 2m32s 45s 3m56s

Server 2016 LTSC Core

13s

*13m 44s

*6m 8s

2m 57s

23m 26s

Server 2019 LTSC GUI

4s

21s

3m 16s

52s

4m 40s

Server 2016 LTSC GUI

25s

*22m 10s

*7m 20s

14m 50s

44m 28s

*Remarks: Due to a bug in 1607 download and install phase are wrong (fixed in Server SAC / Client 1703 and later), the DL is finished but it changes to install phase later while tiworker is already running. A 450 mbit line is not the bottleneck to DL patches from WU. So install time cannot measured well and needs to be seen additive.

Karl wrote in his mail that he had difficulties to stop the time within the GUI and in the core server exactly. But this should not be the subject of a discussion – it’s about the trend. And the table above sends a clear message. 


(Source: Borncity.com)

I have created the above diagram to compare the measured total times for the update installation on the test machines. The installation times for updates on Windows Server 2016 are a disaster. In Windows Server 2019 LTSC Core and GUI the updates are installed after less than 5 minutes, the server is ready for use again. With Windows Server 2016 LTSC Core and GUI, the administrator waits between 24 minutes to 44 minutes until the machine is back for operation.

This behavior from Windows Server 2016 LTSC also applies to the Windows 10 V1607 LTSC clients.

Don’t use Windows Server 2016 LTSC!

Karl told me, that he helps customers as an IT consultant migrate from Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 to newer products such as Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016/2019. His verdict: “With the current developments in Windows 10 and Windows Server, the LTSC branches (clients and servers alike) causes more problems than their design can solve.” He told me: 

I have come to the point of abandoning the recommendation of Server 2016 completely for our customers. I recommend going straight to Windows Server 2019, because Microsoft’s LTSC approach simply doesn’t work as intended.

Microsoft now wants customers to update to the latest version whenever possible, whether it’s a server or a client. In other words: Redmond has screwed it up, it won’t be fixed anymore and the customer is once again on the ‘dead end’. Because updating a Windows Server 2016 LTSC without software assurance and volume license agreement to the 2019 version will be expensive. Thanks to Karl for the information and the data. 

Similar articles:
Windows Server 2016: Slow updates
Survey: Slow Windows Server 2016 Update installs?
Stuipd idea using Windows 10 LTSC or tinkering with V1607


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