Why Software Updates Should Be Carefully Managed

26 April 2016

This article is part 2 of our article on Updates from last month.

Microsoft was one of the first to introduce automatic updates to their Windows operating system, and many software vendors have followed in their path. Windows Update is great for home users, however its ability to patch 3rd party applications is limited. Another major issue for business users is the inability to control when it installs updates – and thus the forced restarts (usually at the start of the day)!

Windows Update

Left alone, Windows will automatically patch itself through built-in Windows Update. However, sometimes Windows Update can get stuck because an update failed to install, or due to file corruption. This can leave a computer without protection for months or even years until the problem is identified and corrected.

Windows Update can also patch Skype, Silverlight plugin, and Flash Player (for IE), but misses a number of other critical applications which could leave your computer unprotected. Also unless these apps have been setup to patch through Windows Update – they may not be updating at all.

Forced Restarts

Another issue with Windows Update mainly for business – are the forced restarts which have been the norm since Windows 7, and become more of an issue with Windows 10.

On a computer which is first turned on in the morning, the update installation will start as soon as it’s switched on – when the updates have finished installing a countdown timer will open (Windows 7) or a restart will be automatically scheduled (Windows 10). In either case, the machine will automatically restart at a time of its choosing.

This leads downtime during the day as unsaved work is closed (requiring the use of Word’s auto-recover after reboot), and line-of-business apps can behave erratically as they are forced-closed during the restart sequence.

Finally if an update causes issues, the system may be unavailable for the rest of the day or until it can be recovered by a technician.

Updates – Managed

As part of Managed Services our customers have all updates managed carefully. When updates are released by the software vendor – we test them in a lab environment to ensure they won’t break anything our customers rely on. Next we schedule update installations for our customers using our specialised software. Updates are installed silently in the background with no nag screens or forced restarts. Also our updates are applied for all operating systems and software installed on our customers systems – currently supporting over 100 different applications.

When a restart is required we schedule this for a designated Maintenance Window usually overnight (outside of customers’ office hours). We carefully monitor systems to ensure they restart successfully after the updates are installed and are ready for our customers when they arrive the next morning to work (no downtime!).

Updates are an important part of securing your IT systems and also provide a way to resolve bugs in software – but unless they are carefully managed they could be costing you more than you think.

If you would like any more information about our IT maintenance or like an obligation free assessment of your current update situation – please contact us using the information below.

Back to article list