Intro to Update Retriever and ThinInstaller

What is Update Retriever/ThinInstaller?

Lenovo provides these free utilities for managing a local repository of device drivers and software updates for Lenovo machines.  They work together to identify and install applicable updates, either from the local hard disk or from a network share.

Update Retriever allows you to create a list of Machine Type and OS pairs to search on.  What is a machine type you ask?  Good question, because most people might think it is the sub-series name like T440 or X240.  Actually the machine type is the first four numbers/letters in the product identifier.  For instance, a T440 may have a product identifier of 20B6007RAD so the machine type would be 20B6.

With Update Retriever you perform a search with 20B6 and Windows 7 as the criteria and you end up with a list of updates that are applicable to these two data points.  Select the ones you want and Update Retriever downloads them to a folder that you have specified as your repository.  This could be on the local machine or it could be a network share.

The repository will simply be a folder with a collection of sub-folders, one for each update that is found in a search.  When you choose to download an update, the sub-folder will be populated with the .EXE file, the readme text file, and an XML file.  If you do not choose to download the update, you will just have the XML file.  This XML file provides details on the update which Update Retriever will display and ThinInstaller will use to know how and when to install the update.

In the repository there will also be a database.xml file which Update Retriever will populate with data about every update it has seen in a search.  Most importantly  it tags each update entry with a list of supported Machine Type + OS values.

When you install Update Retriever and run it the first time you will configure a few settings.  One is the location of the repository and any credentials needed to access the location.  There are also some options that can be set.  Most can be left on the defaults.  There is one that you may want to change and that is the Default Status.  It starts out as 'Test' and this means only clients with specially configured ThinInstaller can see them.  This is great if you plan to triage any updates before you deploy them in production.  If you don't have time for that, then you will want to change the default status to 'Active'.

ThinInstaller is provided as setup package which is really just a self-extracting EXE.  This means you can extract the files to a folder, let's say C:\TI for brevity, and then copy this folder to any target device in order to run ThinInstaller.  To uninstall, just delete the folder.

ThinInstaller has a configuration xml file named 'ThinInstaller.exe.configuration' which is where you can specify the repository location and whether you want Active content or Test content.  The default is Active so if you aren't using the triage method and 'Test' status, you probably won't need to change this file at all.  But what about the repository location?  That can be handled, and in fact overridden, from the command line.

The ThinInstaller command line has some very interesting parameters.  Below is example of a "best practices" command line:
C:\TI\ThinInstaller.exe /CM -search A -action INSTALL -includerebootpackages 3 -noreboot -repository \\drivers\repos
This tells ThinInstaller to search for All classifications of updates (Critical, Recommended, Optional), to perform the installs instead of just LISTing the available updates, to include updates that "Require a reboot" (type 3) but do not perform the reboot as it will be handled later by some other process (-noreboot), and to find the updates in the network share at \\drivers\repos.  If ThinInstaller is going to be used in an unattended, scripted manner (i.e. as part of an MDT deployment task sequence), it is important to only specify to include packages with reboot type 3.  Including any other reboot types will interrupt the task sequence.

There is a much more comprehensive guide on using Update Retriever and ThinInstaller with SCCM and MDT.  It can be found here.

The latest versions of Update Retriever and ThinInstaller can be downloaded from here.


  1. I know this is an old post, but are these tools still available? All the links go to page not found?

    1. The post has been updated with a link at the bottom where the latest versions of both tools can be downloaded.


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