*** HORROR ALERT! UPDATED 19th FEBRUARY 2015 ***

Starting with the February 2015 CUs, SharePoint patches will now try and sneak into your unsuspecting SharePoint servers (via Windows Update). You REALLY need to understand what the implications are, so without re-inventing the wheel, read Todd Klindt’s blog post and Stefan Goßner’s blog post on this matter.

*** HORROR AVERTED! UPDATED 02nd MARCH 2015 ***

As per Stefan Goßner’s latest blog post update, “as of March 2015 all Office product updates will be offered via Microsoft Update except for non-security updates for server products. Individual and “uber” server product updates will be published only to the Microsoft Download Center and customers can download/schedule/plan/test accordingly”. Thank you Microsoft, that’s relieved a lot of customers! You may carry on reading the below 😉

By now I’m sure that most of us know that SharePoint Cumulative Updates are going to be released monthly (‘SharePoint Server Cumulative Updates Now Arriving Every Month‘), and as a result I’ve recently received a lot of questions about when you should install a CU.

In my opinion you shouldn’t be installing SharePoint CU’s unless it’s required to fix a problem that’s actually causing you a disruption. If you’ve opened a support case with Microsoft, it’s not uncommon to be requested to install a CU, if it’s known to address the issue that you have reported.

Before you deploy a CU, take time to read the release notes (thoroughly!). You really need to have a good understanding on what else is bundled into the CU, as although it might fix one or more issues for you, it may also inadvertently introduce a new gremlin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gremlins) or two (this DOES happen from time to time!). Of course you’re smart, so you’re going to only install a new CU into your test environment first (and ACTUALLY test it), before promoting the change upwards through your farms to PRODUCTION.

Often admins overlook if the CU intended for deployment is supported with other applications that might also be built on top of SharePoint, for example, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Enterprise Portal. If in doubt, ask your Microsoft TAM for clarification.

Whilst we’re on this topic, take a moment to understand the difference between a Microsoft PU, a CU and a COD (it’s more than just a tasty fish)……………..I’m often surprised by how many people don’t know these basics, so skill up people, skill up! Read more here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/stefan_gossner/archive/2013/03/21/common-question-what-is-the-difference-between-a-pu-a-cu-and-a-cod.aspx

As you can see above, this article isn’t about how to apply a CU, but more about if you should be deploying them, and some extra points for consideration. If you need to know more about the deployment process, start by reading SharePoint 2010 Service Pack 1 and June 2011 CUignore the SP version and SP/CU, and concentrate on ‘The under-documented steps to successful SharePoint service pack deployment‘ article content.