Data Protection Disaster Recovery

Keeping computers on a network up to date

This article contains information to help you manage updates over a network and to help you find the right updates for each computer on a network. Every computer on a network needs updates that are designed for the version of Windows that it’s running. A computer running Windows Vista, for example, doesn’t need the same updates as a computer that is running this version of Windows.

Update computers on a home network

The easiest way to keep a home network up to date is to turn on Windows automatic updating on each computer. Use the recommended setting so that regardless of who uses the computer, Windows can check for updates and install them on a regular schedule. For more information, see Understanding Windows automatic updating. You can also choose to allow anyone who uses the computer to manually install optional updates and software. For more information, see Change how Windows installs or notifies you about updates.

Manage updates for computers on an office network

If you are a system administrator for a network, you can use these options to help keep all computers on the network up to date.

  • Make sure Windows automatic updating is turned on to the setting that you want all computers on the network to use. To manage the Windows automatic updating setting for each computer, use Group Policy settings for the Windows Update service. For more information about Group Policy, visit Microsoft TechNet and search for Group Policy.
  • To find updates for multiple versions of Windows, search the Windows Update Catalog online.
  • To learn more about how to update Windows operating systems and other Microsoft products that are running inside your corporate firewall, go to the Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) website. This service helps administrators target systems for update deployment, define user interactions with updates, schedule the frequency and priority of updates, and more.
  • To learn how to update Microsoft Office, see Update Microsoft Office.


How To Recover From a Frozen Windows Update Installation

What To Do When Your Computer Gets Stuck Installing a Windows Update

Most of the time, Windows Update does its job with little attention from us. While we might check and install updates manually from time to time, most Windows computers are configured to apply important updates automatically, usually the night of Patch Tuesday.

Sometimes however, when the patch, or maybe even service pack, is being installed during shutdown or startup, the update installation stops – freezes, locks up, hangs, clocks, whatever you want to call it.

The installation of one or more Windows updates is probably frozen if you see one of the following messages persist for a long time:

“Preparing to configure Windows.
Do not turn off your computer.”

“Configuring Windows updates
x% complete
Do not turn off your computer.”

“Please do not power off or unplug your machine.
Installing update x of x…”

“Working on updates
x% complete
Don’t turn off your computer.”

You might also see a “Stage 1 of 1” or “Stage 1 of 3” or a similar message prior to the second example. Sometimes “Restarting” is all you’ll see on screen. There might be some wording differences too depending on which version of Windows you’re using.

If you don’t see anything at all on screen, especially if you think the updates may have been installed completely, see my How To Fix Problems Caused by Windows Updates tutorial instead.

Cause of Windows Update Freezes

There are several reasons why the installation or finalization of one or more Windows updates can hang.

Most often, these types of problems are due to a software conflict or a preexisting issue that simply wasn’t brought to light until the Windows updates started installing. Much more rarely they’re caused by a mistake on Microsoft’s part regarding the update itself.

Note: There’s an actual issue with Windows that can cause Windows Update installations to freeze like this but it’s only applicable to Windows Vista and only if SP1 hasn’t yet been installed. If your computer fits that description, install Windows Vista SP1 or later or this update to solve the problem.

Verify The Problem

Some Windows updates can take several minutes or more to configure or install so you want to make sure the updates are truly stuck before moving on. Trying to fix a problem that doesn’t really exist will just create a problem.

You can tell if Windows updates are frozen if nothing happens on screen for 30 minutes or more. If there’s any wonder after that long, take a look at your hard drive activity light. You’ll see either no activity at all, or very regular but very short flashes of light.

Chances are that the updates are hung long before 30 minutes but this is a reasonable amount of time to wait and probably twice as long as I’ve ever seen a Windows update take to successfully install.

Troubleshooting Steps

  1. Press Ctrl-Alt-Del. In some situations, the Windows update(s) may be hung at a very particular part of the installation process and you could be presented with your Windows login screen after executing the Ctrl-Alt-Del keyboard command.

    If so, log on as you normally would and let the updates continue to install successfully.

    Note: If your computer restarts after the Ctrl-Alt-Del, read the Note in Step 2 below. If nothing happens (most likely) then move on to Step 2.

  2. Restart your computer, using either the reset button or by powering it off and then back on using the power button. Hopefully Windows will start normally and finish installing the updates.

    I realize that you’re probably explicitly told not to do this by the message on the screen, but if the Windows update installation is truly frozen then you have no other choice but to hard reboot.

    Tip: Depending on how Windows and BIOS/UEFI are configured, you may have to hold down the power button for three to four seconds before the computer will turn off. On a tablet or laptop, removing the battery may be necessary.

    Note: If you’re automatically taken to the Advanced Boot Options or Startup Settingsmenu after restarting, choose Safe Mode and see the comments in Step 3 below.

  3. Start Windows in Safe Mode. This special diagnostic mode of Windows only loads the minimum drivers and services that Windows absolutely needs so if another program or service is conflicting with one of the Windows updates, the install might finish up just fine.

    If the Windows updates do install successfully and you continue to Safe Mode, just restart from there to enter Windows normally.

  4. Complete a System Restore to undo the changes made so far by the incomplete installation of the Windows updates. Since you can’t access Windows normally, try doing this from Safe Mode. See the link in Step 2 if you’re not sure how to start in Safe Mode.

    Note: During the System Restore, be sure to choose the restore point created by Windows just prior to the update installation.

    Assuming a restore point was made and System Restore is successful, your computer should be returned to the state it was in before the updates started. If this problem occurred after automatic updating, like what happens on Patch Tuesday, be sure tochange Windows Update settings so this problem doesn’t reoccur on its own.

  5. Try System Restore from Advanced Startup Options (Windows 8) or System Recovery Options (Windows 7 & Vista) if you’re not able to access Safe Mode or if the restore failed from Safe Mode. Since these menus of tools are available from “outside” of Windows, you can try this even if Windows is completely unavailable.

    Important: System Restore is only available from outside of Windows if you’re using Windows 8, Windows 7, or Windows Vista. This option is not available in Windows XP.

  6. Complete a Startup Repair. While a System Restore is a more direct way of undoing changes, in this case a Windows update, a Startup Repair (or Repair Install in Windows XP) could be helpful if a System Restore isn’t successful for some reason.
  7. Test your computer’s memory. It’s possible that failing RAM could be causing the patch installations to freeze. Luckily memory is really easy to test.
  8. Update BIOS. An outdated BIOS isn’t a common cause for this problem but it’s possible.

    If one or more of the updates Windows is trying to install is involved with how Windows works with your motherboard or other built-in hardware, a BIOS update could solve the issue.

  9. Clean install Windows. A clean install involves completely erasing the hard drive that Windows is installed on and then installing Windows again from scratch on that same drive.

    Obviously you don’t want to do this if you don’t have to but it’s a very likely fix if the troubleshooting steps prior to this one were unsuccessful.

    Note: It might seem likely that reinstalling Windows, and then these same exact Windows updates, will cause the same problem but that isn’t usually what happens. Since most lock-up issues caused by updates by Microsoft are actually software conflicts, a clean install of Windows, followed promptly by the installation of all available updates, usually results in a perfectly working computer.

Please let me know if you’ve had success escaping a hung Windows update installation using a method I don’t have included in the troubleshooting above. I’d be happy to include it here.

Applies To

Any of Microsoft’s operating systems could experience freezing issues during Windows updates including Windows 8Windows 7Windows VistaWindows XP, and more.

Still Having Freezing Issues Related to Windows Update?

See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more. Be sure to let me know exactly what’s happening, what updates you’re installing (if you know) and what steps, if any, you’ve already taken to try to fix the problem.


How to Manage Microsoft Updates

Ever feel overwhelmed with the number of updates you always seem to need for your Windows operating system? There may be a great number of downloads that your computer is set to automatically download and not all of them are necessary. Changing the settings of your computer so that you can select which downloads you want can really decrease the number of updates you will need, and reduce unnecessary space being taken up on your hard drive. It can also reduce the time it takes to download and process updates on your computer making it less frustrating. This may sound nice, but how can you tell which downloads are really necessary or not?

Follow these simple steps to streamline your Windows Updates experience.


Getting the Updates you Need

Windows Update is an application that helps Windows users to manage their updates. It is part of the Windows Control Panel, and to access it on Vista and 7

Click Start

> Control Panel

> System and Maintenance

> Windows Update.

From here you can see whether your computer needs any updates, turn on or off automatic update downloads, and view installed updates. Windows gives you 4 options for setting up automatic updates.

  • Install Updates Automatically
  • Download updates but let me choose whether to install them
  • Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them
  • Never Check for Updates

The default option for Windows is the first, and this is the no-hassle option that is best for most Windows Vista and 7 users, but selecting one of the other options you can better control the updates that are downloaded to your computer. The last option is never recommended to use. This could serious compromise your computer’s functioning and safety.

How to Select an Update

When you choose one of the middle options from Windows Update you will receive notification from Windows when updates are available. It will also give you information about whether these updates are required are not to help you choose the updates that you need, versus ones that you may not. In general updates will fall into either one of two categories:

1. Important/Urgent: These updates should always be selected and downloaded. They are required in order to make existing programs run efficiently and to protect them from viruses and spyware.

2. Optional: These updates are not always required and do not necessarily affect the functioning of the programs they are for. The best tip for selecting these updates is only to choose those that are for programs that you actually use. You can also do a quick search online to find out whether these updates will really make a difference or not. Remember though to never download these updates from any other source than through Windows Update to protect your PC.

Changing the settings of Windows Update on your PC can really reduce the number of unnecessary updates you download to your computer and can make the process of keeping your PC up-to-date less frustrating and hassle-free!


The forgotten desktops of Windows XP

XP Install Screen

XP Install Screen

The inter tubes have been filled with the stories about the coming demise of Windows XP. And I have to admit a certain fondness for the OS, after all, we have been together for 12 years and countless machines. Yes, there was Vista (briefly), and I am still getting used to Windows 7′s quirks just in time to find my way around 8.1. And I am not alone: Kaspersky claims nearly 20% of their current anti-virus customers still run XP. Time is running out, as we all know.

But what hasn’t been covered is what I call the forgotten desktop which runs XP. There are plenty of devices that aren’t actually sitting on anyone’s desk but are connected to your corporate network, and will need upgrading. When you start to look around, you can find them in some surprising places, such as point of sale terminals, ticket kiosks for trains and subway stations, medical equipment, displays at airports, bus stations and train stations, digital payphones, digital LED signage, video conference rooms, red light speed cameras, movie ticket kiosks, and supermarket self-checkout lanes (these have enough problems as is). Take a look at the collection chronicled in the Public Computer Error Board. I am sure you can think of other places XP might be lurking.

“This interconnected world can be a dangerous place when it’s built on an unsupported operating system that’s vulnerable to exploits or simple compatibility limitations,” says Justin Strong, a product marketing manger at Novell. And after all, who would know better than the folks who originally hooked up all these XP machines back in the day?

“IT departments are relieved if they’re simply migrated their workforce off XP,” says Strong. But that’s not enough.Microsoft’s Craig Mundie at the Techonomy conference last year said, “Even one XP machine represents a major threat.” This is because XP can’t be hardened to avoid today’s threats and has many weaknesses. According to Microsoft,XP machines are six times more likely to be infected with malware than newer versions of Windows. Yikes.

I know many of you still have even Windows NT and 2000 running somewhere on your networks, and maybe even some Novell Netware too. Let’s make a clean sweep. And yes, I will miss XP, we have been through a lot.But it is time to move on.

From David Storm – Web Informant 

Why is it important for you to install Windows and Anti-Virus updates?

Most Windows updates include security and compatibility updates. The security updates close various ports in Windows that if open could allow a hacker to access the information on the computers. Compatibility updates allow Windows to work smoothly with other programs causing less of a chance there will be errors they also include information and drivers for various hardware components like printers. If Windows is not updated on a regular basis the computers are left vulnerable to hacking attempts and program and hardware compatibility issues.

Anti-Virus updates include various virus definitions that help the program to identify and remove or block numerous types of malware attacks. There are literally hundreds of new and updated viruses and malware created every month. In order for an anti-virus program to be effective it has to know what to look for to find the malicious programs which is what the updates are for. If anti-virus is not updated computers are left vulnerable to malicious programs like key loggers, root-kits, and Trojan horses. Key loggers are small programs installed on a computer by hackers looking to steal credit card and login information. The program logs all the keystrokes that are made on the computer and the hacker uses that information to gain access to personal accounts(Bank accounts, credit card accounts, etc). So it is very important for your safety and the safety of your patrons to keep anti-virus software updated to avoid these types of attacks.


Friday Morning Hangout – 6/28/13 Fire Drills – Disaster Recovery – Data Protection

Friday Morning Hangout – 6/21/13 Data Protection

Home Nine & Sons – Dale Nine

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Healthcare Support Technology – Dave Novak

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