Man­age Win­dows 10 up­dates

Buy­ing or up­grad­ing to Win­dows 10 Pro gives you more op­tions to man­age Win­dows 10 up­dates. MARK HACH­MAN re­ports

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

How can I stop Win­dows 10 up­dates? Whether it’s pre­vent­ing Win­dows 10 from kick­ing off a crit­i­cal up­date dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion, or de­fer­ring Mi­crosoft’s Win­dows 10 fea­ture up­date be­cause of wor­ries about data loss, it’s a ques­tion we’ve all asked. You shouldn’t block all Win­dows 10 up­dates. But you

can man­age them. Win­dows 10 fea­ture up­dates and se­cu­rity up­dates pro­vide a valu­able ser­vice: they not only patch Win­dows, its apps and com­po­nents, but pro­vide new fea­tures and ca­pa­bil­i­ties twice a year. Win­dows Up­date can also au­to­mat­i­cally pro­vide up­dated driv­ers for hard­ware con­nected to your PC, such as a USB-at­tached printer.

As we write this, how­ever, Mi­crosoft is wrestling with the fall­out from the Win­dows 10 Oc­to­ber 2018 Up­date, which ap­par­ently deleted user data in an undis­closed num­ber of cases and was put on hold, then re­sumed. Would you want to buy a car if it had even a 0.001 per­cent chance of ex­plod­ing? Prob­a­bly not – which is why it’s good to know how to man­age Win­dows 10 up­dates, now and in the fu­ture.

Three tools to man­age up­dates with Win­dows 10 Home

When you’re build­ing a PC you have two choices of Mi­crosoft’s Win­dows 10 op­er­at­ing sys­tem: Win­dows 10 Home and Win­dows 10 Pro. Win­dows 10 Home can be the cheaper al­ter­na­tive, at £119. But at £219, Win­dows 10 Pro of­fers some ad­van­tages, too. We pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied five fea­tures that would make you want to switch from Win­dows 10 Home to Win­dows 10 Pro, but in this case we’d add a sixth: the abil­ity to more finely man­age Win­dows up­dates.

Win­dows 10 Pro al­lows you to de­fer up­dates for days and days. If you’re a Win­dows 10 Home user, you may as well ac­cept your fate: Win­dows 10 up­dates – both pe­ri­odic se­cu­rity up­dates, as well as the semi­an­nual fea­ture up­dates – will ar­rive on your PC al­most

as soon as they’re re­leased. Don’t worry, though, as Win­dows Home and Pro users alike have some de­fences against an un­ex­pected Win­dows 10 up­date: Ac­tive Hours, Res­tart re­minders, and Me­tered up­dates.

To ac­cess them, first nav­i­gate to the Win­dows 10 Set­tings menu, then to Home > Up­date & Se­cu­rity > Win­dows Up­date > Ad­vanced op­tions.

Ac­tive Hours can be a Win­dows 10 Home user’s most po­tent weapon against un­ex­pected Win­dows 10 up­dates. (This set­ting is found in Home > Up­date & Se­cu­rity > Win­dows Up­date > Change ac­tive hours.) It’s here that you can tell Win­dows when you’re ac­tively us­ing your PC, and when it shouldn’t up­date Win­dows. The de­fault is busi­ness hours: 8am to 5pm, though you can set a win­dow for up to 18 hours later than the start time. Ac­tive Hours shouldn’t al­low the up­date to oc­cur dur­ing that pe­riod. Be care­ful, though, as the up­date

could still kick off at, say, 4am, when Ac­tive Hours is dis­abled and you’re not at your PC.

Even if that hap­pens, though, you should re­ceive a re­minder via Win­dows’ res­tart re­minders, the check­box that lets you know that ‘We’ll show a re­minder when we’re go­ing to res­tart’. Even if all else fails, checking this box should pop up a no­ti­fi­ca­tion that Win­dows will even­tu­ally res­tart and in­stall and up­date, giv­ing you some time to save and exit your work. I’ve per­son­ally had Win­dows alert me that an up­date was on its way when I was at the PC and work­ing with Ac­tive Hours en­abled. Win­dows didn’t up­date dur­ing Ac­tive Hours, but I was able to re­mind my­self to save ev­ery­thing be­fore I left for the night. (Set­ting a re­minder via Cor­tana might help.)

It’s not per­fect: If you’re at lunch, for ex­am­ple, the no­ti­fi­ca­tion may pop up and then have dis­ap­peared by the time you’ve re­turned. But there should at least be a re­minder in your No­ti­fi­ca­tions that an up­date is in on its way.

Pre­vent­ing Win­dows up­dates from down­load­ing over me­tered con­nec­tions can be a sneaky way of pos­si­bly pre­vent­ing an un­wanted up­date. The OS now rec­og­nizes that some users may have me­tered data con­nec­tions, with strict lim­its on how much data they can down­load per month. Mi­crosoft po­litely al­lows you to de­fer an un­ex­pected up­date via a me­tered con­nec­tion, so you don’t pay an ex­tra fee.

Win­dows is un­aware whether a con­nec­tion is me­tered, how­ever. (And yes, you can lie.) Des­ig­nate your broad­band con­nec­tion as a me­tered con­nec­tion by go­ing into Set­tings > Net­work & In­ter­net, then Change con­nec­tion prop­er­ties. It’s here that you’ll see a tog­gle to Set as me­tered con­nec­tion. You can then go back into the Win­dows Up­date set­tings and tog­gle Au­to­mat­i­cally down­load up­dates, even over me­tered data con­nec­tions... to Off.

Un­for­tu­nately, the de­fault be­hav­iour when your PC is con­nected to eth­er­net is to think that your PC is on an un­metered con­nec­tion. And when you’re con­nected to Wi-Fi, Win­dows will still prob­a­bly down­load ‘pri­or­ity’ up­dates, so this can’t re­ally be con­sid­ered a fool­proof so­lu­tion.

And if you have mul­ti­ple Wi-Fi con­nec­tions avail­able, you’ll have to set all of them as me­tered, too, which is a pain. All in all, a more con­ve­nient op­tion is Win­dows 10 Pro.

Win­dows 10 Pro al­lows you to de­fer up­dates

All of the set­tings and op­tions above are avail­able within Win­dows 10 Pro, but there are some ad­di­tional op­tions that ac­tu­ally al­low you to choose when up­dates can be in­stalled. If you own a Win­dows 10 Home PC, you can up­grade from Win­dows 10 Home to Win­dows 10 Pro from within the Win­dows Store app for £119, or you can use this Mi­crosoft Store link from a Win­dows 10 Home ma­chine.

(There’s one catch: if you’re work­ing on an En­ter­prise or Ed­u­ca­tion edi­tion of Win­dows, some of these op­tions might not be avail­able to you, as your PC may be cen­trally man­aged by an IT depart­ment or other ad­min­is­tra­tor who has set a par­tic­u­lar pol­icy for your PC. If you man­age the PC, though, check

out our ear­lier story for how to turn off Win­dows 10 au­to­matic up­dates.)

In fact, the Win­dows 10 Set­tings menu which in­cludes Home > Up­date & Se­cu­rity > Win­dows Up­date > Ad­vanced op­tions will in­clude many more op­tions with Win­dows 10 Pro, in­clud­ing the abil­ity to pause up­dates, choose when up­dates are in­stalled, and the ac­tual de­fer­ral of both fea­ture and se­cu­rity up­dates.

One of the be­hav­iours we’ve seen on a Pro ma­chine is when an up­date re­minder lands on your ma­chine: Mi­crosoft al­lows you not only to de­lay your up­date, but also to spec­ify ex­actly when. You can sched­ule the up­date for any­time within a week.

One of the more con­fus­ing op­tions is Choose when up­dates are in­stalled. Here, you have two op­tions: Semi-An­nual Chan­nel (Tar­geted), and just a vanilla Semi-An­nual Chan­nel op­tion. These re­fer to the semi-an­nual dates when cor­po­ra­tions typ­i­cally re­ceive the fea­ture up­dates, such as the Oc­to­ber 2018 Up­date for Win­dows 10.

In gen­eral, the tar­geted op­tion means that you’ll re­ceive a fea­ture up­date on or about the same day as the gen­eral pub­lic, in other words the an­nounced ‘ship date’ of a fea­ture up­date. PCs on the vanilla ‘Semi­An­nual Chan­nel’ will re­ceive the up­date later, af­ter cor­po­rate IT de­part­ments have pro­vided feed­back and Mi­crosoft has is­sued an up­date patch to fix any is­sues. There’s no fixed date for when you’ll fi­nally re­ceive the fea­ture up­date un­der the Semi-An­nual Chan­nel. How­ever, this is the most con­ser­va­tive set­ting if you’re still grant­ing Mi­crosoft the free­dom to roll out a fea­ture up­date when it chooses.

You can tack on ex­tra time if you want. Near the bot­tom you’ll see op­tions to de­fer fea­ture up­dates and qual­ity up­dates. In fact, Mi­crosoft’s less con­cerned about when you re­ceive a fea­ture up­date, be­cause you can de­fer it for a full 365 days. Se­cu­rity or ‘qual­ity’ up­dates are more es­sen­tial, and your win­dow is even smaller: 30 days. If you’re con­cerned about a bad patch, how­ever – and they do oc­ca­sion­ally hap­pen – the up­date de­fer­rals should pro­tect you.

The fi­nal op­tion is what you might call a va­ca­tion hold for patches: Pause up­dates. There’s no mys­tery here; if you’re trav­el­ling abroad or just don’t want to be both­ered with un­ex­pected patches on a busi­ness trip or va­ca­tion, you can sim­ply block them for up to 35 days. And you can do it again and again. The catch, though, is that you’ll need to down­load and up­date Win­dows be­fore you re-en­able the Pause up­dates fea­ture.

The caveat in all of these, ob­vi­ously, is that Win­dows 10 is an evolv­ing plat­form, and Mi­crosoft oc­ca­sion­ally

adds, sub­tracts, or ad­justs the be­hav­iour of var­i­ous fea­tures. Oth­ers, such as our ear­lier tip on how to up­grade Win­dows but pre­vent it from un­ex­pect­edly re­boot­ing, may work now, but be qui­etly dis­abled in the fu­ture. Mi­crosoft was sup­posed to have in­cluded a smart up­dater AI fea­ture within the Win­dows 10 Oc­to­ber Up­date to help mit­i­gate un­ex­pected Win­dows up­dates, but it ap­pears to have been pulled.

The bot­tom line is this: Win­dows up­dates are ben­e­fi­cial to you and your PC. But how Mi­crosoft man­ages them could use some im­prove­ment. You can use these tips to meet in the mid­dle.

Win­dows 10 Home users will see this ad­vanced op­tions page. Al­ways make sure to have the ‘We’ll show a re­minder’ tog­gled on, and it’s not a bad idea to have Win­dows man­age up­dates for other Mi­crosoft prod­ucts, too

Ac­tive Hours are the other ac­tive means of de­fence against an un­ex­pected Win­dows up­date. Make sure you have these turned on and con­fig­ured to when you’re us­ing the PC

The ad­di­tional op­tions cir­cled in red are made avail­able with Win­dows 10 Pro

A drop-down menu al­lows you to se­lect how long to de­fer ei­ther fea­ture up­dates or ‘qual­ity’ up­dates, which can in­clude se­cu­rity up­dates

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