Windows Update Log File formatting improved with Windows 10 v1709

When Microsoft released Windows 10, it substituted the Windows Update log file date log file from a plain text to a binary file format. The Windows Update log file is typically required by Developers and IT professionals to read vital information while debugging applications. The preferred format for the Update log file is text so that it can be opened using the plain text editor, or processed using the text editing tools.

Windows Update Log File formatting improved

However, with Microsoft replacing with an unreadable binary format, a new PowerShell cmdlet, Get-WindowsUpdateLog, was added to format the binary file and convert to the preferred text format.

This process required users to either connect to the Microsoft Symbol Server to get the latest symbol files or they needed to download the latest Windows symbol files before running the Get-WindowsUpdateLog cmdlet.However, the process would not lead to success if the latest symbols were unavailable at the Microsoft Symbol Server at the time of connection, thus throwing formatting issues in the formatted text files.

This issue has been sorted to some extent with the release of Windows 10 version 1709 ( Creators update ). Read on.

Connection to Microsoft Symbol Server not required

With the release of Windows 10 v 1709, Microsoft has improved the overall Windows update log file access. Establishing a connection to the Microsoft Symbol Server to get the symbols is no longer required. Though, users will still have to run the Get-WindowsUpdateLog PowerShell cmdlet to translate the Windows Update log from its binary format into readable text files.

Windows Update Log File formatting improved

Observe the screenshots and you will find that though the computer has no network connection at all (see the icon at the bottom right), the Get-WindowsUpdateLog worked successfully.

Windows Update log file

What are Symbol files

For curious minds, here is an explanation. When applications, libraries, drivers, or operating systems are linked, the linker that creates the .exe and .dll files also create a number of additional files known as symbol files.

Symbol files are identified with the extension .pdb. They hold a variety of data which are not actually needed when running the binaries, but which could be very useful in the debugging process. symbol files typically contain,

  • Global variables
  • Local variables
  • Function names and the addresses of their entry points
  • Frame pointer omission (FPO) records
  • Source-line numbers

For more information visit Technet.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.