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L T.Flag for Canada

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How to Handle Device Restarts?

Our IT department is having a lot of issues with users not restarting their PCs regardless of how much we tell them or sending out communications. This is causing a lot of issues for some of our applications that get frequent updates and require the PC to be restarted. I am wondering how this is generally handled - especially with remote work these days.

Is this best done with SCCM or is there a better tool? I am thinking to use SCCM to give users the restart pop-up message once every 3 days. Also, is there a way to set up alerts based on when the computer was last restarted? For example, I receive an email alert if I computer has been running for more than 3 days.

Another idea I had, if this is possible with SCCM, is to create an alert that sends an email to the user directly with a template advising them to restart their PC, if their machine has been running for more than 3 days.
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Lee W, MVP
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If you're applications get updates that frequently you should probably consider changing your update policies.  Do weekly updates and schedule a reboot every weekend.  To me, 3 days is VERY frequent.  Implement application changes on Friday and then restart Friday night.  Another option, build in to your application a force reboot (if a version is x or older and a timestamp is older than something, then have the app shell out to the command line and run shutdown -r -t 1 (force a reboot in 1 second).  Or shutdown -r -t 300 (force a reboot in 5 minutes so users can save their work).

As for how to restart (short of the programmatic option I suggest above), it depends on your tools.  A simple script could potentially do it...

One last point.  Microsoft forces reboots with updates.  This is caused TREMENDOUS problems for MANY users as data has been lost and work interrupted, potentially for hours when Microsoft has particularly long updates. While it has gotten better, it's far from perfect.  Keep in mind, that forced reboots (especially during typical work hours) will disrupt your environment, potentially more so than the application updates not being applied. 
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Thanks Lee. To answer a few questions, the updates are cloud based updates on certain applications on the system, not ones we push and we already have a restart that happens Friday night after our updates are pushed. I agree with your points that we definitely should not be restarting during business hours.

That being said I think the best option may to just have the system send the user email alerts - maybe once they have hit 3 or 4 days. This way we have one restart in between rather than waiting for 7 days. What would be the best way to have these alerts automatically be sent out? Is it possible to do via SCCM or is there something else?
You can try Rolling Restart by VMSoftware.
The software allows you to set restarts for individual machines or you can create groups under same schedule. You can set the time, frequency...etc. Works with almost any OS.User generated imageAlso, you can set a waiting time for the user to log off, and a lot of other parameters.
You can use local scripts for restarting but I think that using a software will be easier, you can see/check/schedule everything from one place.
Really helpful when you have to do this for hundreds of VM's on different time zones.

If these updates behave like windows update, then restart requirements manifest in the registry. So you could deploy scheduled tasks that look for these to determine if a restart is needed and then act accordingly (at night). These task could of course display a pop-up going "A restart is due. It will happen tonight. Make sure to save your documents before you call it a day".

Be aware that forced restarts could need automated suspension of encryption software like Bitlocker in order to run automatically.
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Thank you McKnife. Yes seems like a really good solution but I don't really want to go into the whole BitLocker thing, especially with people working remotely. I think I'll just go for an automated alert and have the user restart at their own convenience. Especially since we have staff that work through the night as well, it could become a bigger mess than intended as Lee mentioned as well.

Can anyone tell me how to do the alerts based on PC uptime? What is the best way to do this and how?
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