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Using OHotFix When WSUS Isn’t an Option

If you can't use Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) to update your systems, perhaps because of unavailable server capacity or some other reason, you can use Microsoft's free OHotFix tool to deploy Office updates automatically. You can use OHotFix independently of the Office Update Inventory Tool. You place OHotFix in a shared folder on your network. To the same folder, you download Office updates for any combination of Office applications and versions. Then, when you execute OHotFix, it scans the local computer and installs all the updates you placed in its folder that are applicable to the local computer. Here's how to set up OHotFix.

  1. Create a shared folder on your network. We'll call the folder \\mtg1\ohotfix. Make sure that the Domain Computers group has Read and Execute access to the folder.
  2. Download offinst.exe, the OHotFix installation, from
  3. Run offinst.exe. When it asks you for a folder, point it to \\mtg1\ohotfix. Offinst.exe installs the three files that make up OHotFix (ohotfix.exe, ohotfixr.dll, and ohotfix.ini) to that folder.
  4. Download appropriate Office updates, which initially come in the form of .exe files. You can access the update libraries for Office 2003, Office XP, and Office 2000 from the Office Admin Update Center ( To download an update that you want to install with OHotFix, run the update from the command line with the parameters /c /t:target folder. (If you run the update without the parameters, it will assume you want to update only the local system.) For example, to download the March 8, 2005, update for the Outlook 2003 Junk Email Filter (office2003-kb892236-fullfile-enu.exe), open a command-shell window and type
        /c /t:\\mtg1\ohotfix
    This command extracts the actual update for the Junk Email Filter (outlfltr.msp) to the \\mtg1\ohotfix folder.
  5. After extracting the .msp files from all the Office updates you need to install, execute OHotFix from the target computer. The program will install from the shared folder only the .msp files that are applicable to the local computer. You could use the For command, the Schtasks utility, and the computers.txt file as I explain in "Scan Your Network for Missing Office Updates" to create a scheduled task on each computer that needs to install the latest Office updates.

Unless you have hundreds of computers, I wouldn't worry about them all accessing the OHotFix folder at the same time; the Windows server will serve the OHotFix-related files to all your computers out of cache. Of course, some computers might be down when their scheduled task is supposed to run or at the time OHotFix is scheduled to kick off. If you run the Office Updates Inventory Tool, you'll be able to identify such computers because they'll be missing Office updates.

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