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Turn off Automatic Updates

Microsoft tells us to turn on automatic updates to keep our systems running at peak performance with the highest security. These automatic updates are supposed to be helpful by automatically fixing problems so you don’t have to worry about them. Microsoft claims the easiest way to keep your computer system current is to schedule these updates, TRUST Microsoft and just let everything happen automatically. To this Microsoft recommendation I say, “When pigs fly”!

Granting unfettered and unknowing access to your computer system is no way to meet today’s deadlines and cross things off your to-do list. Microsoft does not know your work schedule. It is ignorant as to which of your software programs is critical to complete your work. Most importantly, they are not aware of how your system is configured within a larger workplace environment. Yet, they believe they can decide when and what updates should be installed on your computer. This is akin to cyberspace Russian roulette. The question is not whether the gun will go off but when.

Most often automatic updates work without symptoms of a problem, however sometimes they don’t. In a recent article, I warned of downloading Internet Explorer 7.0 due to the propensity of problems that are caused by this version. These problems are not limited to Internet functions. Since that article, I have spoken to a significant number of clients that received IE 7.0 via automatic updates. They lost the use of their systems until reverting to a restore point from the date they last successfully used their system.

You can and should use the update feature of your Microsoft Windows but do so wisely. First and foremost, activate restore points. To activate your restore points follow the following steps. Find your control panel (most commonly on your Start menu or in your settings) and click on the System icon. Click on the System Restore tab, uncheck the Turn off System Restore box and maximize the space available for System Restore. You now have a recovery path should you encounter a problem with your computer. Next, configure the automatic update feature to notify you when downloads are available and allow you to choose which updates to apply. Click the Automatic Updates tab to configure your updates. Choose the option for “Notify me but don’t automatically download and install”. You are now in control (at least more so) of your update destiny.


You will now notice that messages pop up with regularity telling you that you have updates or you may notice a small yellow shield icon near the time on your taskbar. Do not feel compelled to respond to these messages. First consider your work schedule, whether you have been experiencing a problem, and if you have the time to update your computer. When you decide the heavens are aligned and you are rested enough to apply updates then click the message or the shield. Your system will be reviewed, updates will be selected and you will have the opportunity to review each update suggested. Read the brief description of each update that appears questionable. I recommend you question all of them. There is typically a URL reference for additional information on each update if you require more information. Now select the updates you wish to allow and update your computer.


Your computing environment is now safer. Someone you know and trust (namely YOU) is now in control and when your support staff asks, “What has changed on your computer?” you will know the answer. Good Luck.

Vol 4, Issue 2



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