Installing ISA 2004 SP3 Remotely

Thursday, August 16, 2007
I do most of my work remotely using Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).  Best thing since sliced bread!!
 
Working on ISA remotely can be tricky, especially if the ISA server is the Internet firewall.  Anytime you need to bounce the ISA services or the server itself you'll drop the RDP connection.  If you're using a current version of Remote Desktop Connection (mstsc.exe), the connection will drop and RDC will automatically attempt to reconnect to the server.
 
Recently, I had to do some work on a customer's ISA 2004 server that required me to upgrade the server to ISA 2004 Service Pack 3 (you can download SP3 here).  Naturally, the installation will stop the ISA services when the upgrade is being performed. 
 
Having tested the SP3 installation in the lab, I found that ISA 2004 SP3 installation takes about 3 minutes, but doesn't always restart the services after the upgrade.  To keep from getting "shut out" from further remote administration I ran the following command from the CMD prompt before the upgrade:
shutdown /r /t 300 /f /d p:4:1
This command will forcibly restart the server in 5 minutes (300 seconds) with the shutdown reason of "Application: Maintenance (Planned)".  I then proceeded to install ISA 2004 SP3.  If the connection is restored after the upgrade, I run the following command from the CMD prompt to abort the server restart:
shutdown /a
If the services don't start (as was the case in my situation) the server will automatically restart and connectivity is restored.