I never held much regard for Windows updates until Windows 10 entered the scene – you know….that insistent persistence it shows for keeping your machine up to date. But is it really so important and are Windows updates necessary?
I avoided updates for years with previous versions of Windows, mostly because of the inconvenience of it all. It was always so easy just to turn updates off and let that be the end of it.
Here’s the kicker though…
I could have prevented hours of banging my head on my desk if I had just let Windows do its thing.
So, let’s discuss the error of my ways and I’ll share with you the answer to the burning question so many Windows users have – are Windows updates really necessary?
What Do Windows Updates Do For Us?
To get to the bottom of this, it makes sense to talk about the purpose of updates.
Updates do a variety of cool things. Ultimately, updates exist with the intention of keeping users safe and happy! (not that the intention always hits the mark…*cough*)
Here is a list of roles that Windows updates play:
1. Security Enforcer
Probably the most important role of them all which is why it is number one on my list!
Windows updates contain vital security patches. Folks…. hackers work around the clock to exploit weaknesses. Windows is the most popular operating system and so hackers give extra special love to Windows vulnerabilities. To counter that Microsoft works around the clock to plug those holes so that unfortunate situations can be prevented!
2. Bug Eliminator
Windows is a truly flexible and infinitely versatile operating system. It supports almost endless different types of devices, drivers, builds, components and programs. This doesn’t come without its problems!
Because of this impressive reputation they have to be on the ball with releasing bug fixes.
Let me explain.
The more devices and programs that co-exist the more opportunity for problems arise.
One example of such a bug is the WIFI bug. This bug causes the WIFI connection on some laptops or computers to drop for no clear reason. Fun stuff! (I experienced this myself and that party was LIT).
Luckily one of the patches fixed it. But I was still anti-updates back then so I suffered for longer than what was necessary. (Allow me a few minutes to kick myself.)
‘Bug fixes/patches’ is just another term for ‘update’.
3. Driver Updater
I’m sure you’ve heard of a thing called a driver. It’s one of those words geeks like to throw at computer noobs. You know, when they innocently ask for help with their misbehaving computers…
“Have you updated your drivers?”
Although not perfect, Windows also keeps our PC’s drivers up to date.
You might be wondering: “What the heck is a driver?”
A driver is a small program that helps devices and components communicate with the operating system. In turn, it allows us as users to use those devices.
For example, let’s look at a basic thing such as a mouse. Without a driver Windows wouldn’t know what to do with the mouse. It wouldn’t understand clicks or scrolling! And so we would click away to our heart’s content but the mouse would do absolutely nothing.
Now the smart companies who created the mouse also update its drivers from time to time. This helps to make sure everything works properly.
If there are known issues, they will release fixes within the new driver version to address them. Sometimes they even give access to new features. New features open up new ways for us to use our devices.
So with Windows keeping our drivers up to date it eliminates the hard work for us. It keeps our computers running smoothly without effort on our part.
Doing it manually for each component on a regular basis takes a lot of effort and leaves a lot of room for error.
4. “Santa Claus“
Not the most important but definitely the coolest is the role of Santa. Now I know you’re wondering if I’ve lost my mind… Allow me to defend myself.
Updates are also the way Microsoft gives us the gift of new features! When I see a feature update it feels like Christmas to me, lol!
An example of such a feature is Dark Mode for Microsoft apps. It gives us the ability to change Microsoft app backgrounds to dark mode. Dark Mode is a lot easier on the eyes – especially when looking at a screen at night in a dark or in a dimly lit room.
Another example is the addition of Paint 3D which is very fun to use and play around with if you’re the creative, artsy type…
Helpful Tips To Avoid Windows Update Frustration
- Let Windows update overnight. This way you don’t have to wait for it to finish at awkward times when you really need to use your computer.
- If you are using a capped network with data limitations, set your connection as “metered”. This will prevent Windows from updating while on that network. Updates can be very large which will consume a lot of data.
- Make sure that your laptop is plugged in to a power outlet. If you have a desktop make sure the power source stays uninterrupted during updates. If the power to your computer is suddenly cut during an update it can cause major issues! For example like not being able to load and log into Windows.
- Have a solid back up procedure in place and do your backups regularly! At least then if something goes wrong, you’ll still have all your documents and files.
- If you have a third-party anti-virus, that is – one that isn’t the built-in one (Window’s Defender) – sometimes it can interfere with Windows carrying out the installation of an update. With large feature updates, it can help to disable the anti-virus just for when updates are being installed. Remember to re-enable the anti-virus when you computer has restarted and updates have finished installing!
Here is a noob’s guide on how to back up your computer!
Enabling/Disabling Windows Updates
Microsoft has stopped rolling out updates for Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8. This also means they no longer provide support for those operating systems.
If you run any of these versions of Windows it is a good idea to make sure they are fully updated.
Updates are set to download automatically by default. So, unless you turned it off it should be enabled.
On Windows 10 updates are pretty much forced on users and it is a whole different ball game to disable them. It is darn near impossible to do without poking around. By that I mean poking around in places that newbies probably shouldn’t be poking around in.
The way I do it is the least invasive and is just a case of setting all my connections as “metered”.
That way Windows knows not to download updates when I’m connected to the networks I’ve set that on.
Now you might be wondering why I say it’s impossible then.
Metered connections are not the same as the simple and permanent “off” setting.
You will have to set each connection to metered and then remember to set any new ones thereafter to metered.
This method requires you to keep your wits about you if you don’t want to be caught off guard.
When you are ready for the updates you will then need to go and undo the setting.
To set your connections as metered on Windows 10:
- Click on the Start button
- Click on the Settings button (represented by the cog symbol)
- Click on Network & Internet
- Click on Wifi and then Manage Known Networks
- Click on the WiFi network that you want to disable receiving updates through
- Click on Properties
- Under Set as metered connection turn the switch to On
If you never want to download updates (not recommended) then do this for each WiFi network
- Click the back arrow in the top left hand corner to access the other networks
- If you use a cable to connect to the internet then follow these steps but instead of choosing WiFi choose Ethernet
So Are Windows Updates Necessary? Here’s My Take On It
Updates are generally thought of as good thing.
Think about Android smartphones and Apple devices… Usually people get all excited when an update becomes available for their devices. The opposite is true when updates stop being rolled out. To users it is a sign that the device is “obsolete” and no longer supported and is not received well.
This is because keeping our devices’ operating systems up to date ensures that bugs are taken care of. It also ensures that we are able to install the latest apps if we so wish. And it also lets us experience cool new features for our devices. No more updates means we will soon have to buy a whole new device!
It’s interesting to see how the majority is pro-updates when it comes to things other than Windows.
There are two reasons which made me feel lots of dread towards updates and they are:
- The time it took to complete an update. Sometimes it took forever to get an update installed!
- The “blue screen of death” sometimes would make an unwelcome appearance!
- Failed updates / computer stuck undoing the changes or restarting
However, so long as you are doing your backups and you have a your Windows recovery USB ready for when the paw paw strikes the fan, those three points should not concern you.
There are reports that Windows 10 will be “the last Windows OS”. This means the updates will keep the OS relevant “with the times” as they say.
The bottom line is,
Windows updates are vital and most definitely necessary.
We can surely avoid them. Our computers will still work if we do. But for our own safety and for the sake of user experience it is not recommended to avoid updates. It is better to be safe than sorry.
So tell me – what are your experiences with Windows updates? Do you do them, or avoid them and why?