Updates and recovery Maintaining Windows is a key part of your daily computing life. Discover the core things you need to know
Looking after Windows shouldn’t be a full-time job, but if you don’t keep it well maintained, you might find yourself wrestling with error messages and other strange glitches. These days, one crucial aspect – keeping Windows updated – is pretty much automatic, but that hasn’t necessarily made things easier, with updates being pushed before they’re fully tested.
If you’re a Windows 10 Home user, your options for blocking updates are limited – only after an update has been downloaded and partially installed can you tell Windows to delay the restart for up to seven days (Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > ‘Restart options’). Windows 10 Professional users get a much better deal, however. Under Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, click ‘Advanced options’ under ‘Update settings’. You can defer ‘quality’ updates (security updates and patches) for up to 30 days, and also block ‘feature’ updates (such as the upcoming Spring Creators Update) for up to a year. A ‘Pause Updates’ button also enables you to temporarily stop all updates for 30 days.
One setting all Windows users should check is Delivery Optimisation, which allows you to stop Microsoft using your Internet connection to deliver updates to other people. Check out this month’s Support Squad for a step-by-step guide.
Back up your PC
We’ve been laughed at for our so-called ‘obsession’ with backing up, but no one’s smiling when confronted by a corrupt Windows installation or missing data. Thankfully Windows 10 has all the tools you need to protect yourself against data loss in the form of two backup tools: File History is the preferred choice, but there’s also the old Windows Backup and Restore tool from Windows 7.
Let’s start with File History – set it up via Start > Settings > Update & Security > Backup. Click ‘Add a drive’ to select an external drive or network location. Once done, copies of files from key folders will be backed up automatically, or you can click ‘More options’ to determine how
often files are backed up (hourly by default) and how long backups are kept.
This second option is important because File History doesn’t simply back up the latest version of your files; it takes multiple snapshots, enabling you to roll back to earlier versions of your files (see the step-by-step guide below). By default, backups are kept for forever, but you can limit backups from one month to two years, or ‘Until space is needed’, which removes the oldest backups as required to free up space for the latest ones.
Scroll further down for a list of all folders being backed up – click one and select Remove to exclude it, or scroll down to add more folders. Also scroll down and click ‘See advanced settings’ to be whisked to the File History Control Panel. Select ‘Advanced settings’ again for an option to ‘Clean up versions’, enabling you to manually remove old backups to free up space manually.
You can also access the old Windows 7 backup tool from the Backup section of Settings – files are backed up less frequently than File History, so fewer versions are stored, but you can also take a complete system image of your Windows drive to restore from.
When major problems occur on your PC, the simplest solution is often to roll back your computer to a point when it last worked correctly – see the ‘System Restore’ box on the facing page to see how you can do this.
If your glitches are becoming too much, go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Recovery. There’s a ‘Reset this PC’ option, which can wipe your PC clean or leave your personal files in place before reinstalling Windows. A less drastic repair can be performed by downloading and running the Windows Media Creation Tool (www.microsoft. com/en-gb/software-download/ windows10). Choose the upgrade option when prompted and select the option to keep apps and personal files before letting Windows reinstall over itself.
If your problems are so severe that you can’t get Windows to boot, you should find yourself at the ‘Advanced start-up’ menu. Select ‘Troubleshoot’ where you’ll find options for resetting your PC or accessing ‘Advanced options’, which include the Start-up Repair tool and System Image Recovery, which you can use to restore Windows using an image you took using the Windows Backup and Restore tool. If you think you can fix your problem in Safe mode, choose Startup Settings then select ‘Safe mode with networking’ to retain Internet access while you troubleshoot.
“File History doesn’t simply back up the latest versions of your files; it takes multiple snapshots, enabling you to roll back to earlier versions”
Windows 10 Professional users can keep feature updates at bay for up to a year.
File History allows you to back up multiple versions of your files for maximum flexibility.
Hold [Shift] as you reboot to access the Advanced start-up menu.