Every second Tuesday night automated windows system updates are released. For many small businesses with a small IT network this can lead to issues the next day.
At one time updates were released over the weekend. If they caused any issues then it meant that Monday morning was a rush to deal with the interruptions. Mondays in most offices tend to be really busy days as the week is started, planning is done and for IT admins it seems to always be a day for dealing with issues. Adding in any issues caused by an automatically deployed update just aggravated an already tough morning. Microsoft heard the feedback and moved the release of updates to Tuesday night.
Of course this means that if the updates are run automatically, which is common for most small IT networks, any issues they introduce are found Wednesday morning and the corrections make that morning a challenge.
Why do updates cause problems?
Most updates are patches to bugs that have been found through the automatic error reporting that is provided as part of each Microsoft operating system. The thousands of error reports that come in from around the globe get analysed for patterns which then become the basis of corrections that Microsoft releases as an update. The other component of the updates is any security protection changes which are needed to protect users' systems from threats or vulnerabilities which have been found. Both of these categories of update are valuable to end users and therefore running updates is a worthwhile feature.
So what is the issue?
Some updates can affect the interactions within a computer due to changes made in how security is handled and which can affect the operation of other software on the device. Usually this is not a problem, but if the setup for your IT network has been modified for some reason, perhaps to accomodate a specific remote connection, or a VPN connection or other more sophisticated use, then the update may break that connection. Modification to respond to the update changes may need to be undertaken to keep your system running. Since Microsoft cannot know how every network or computer is configured the potential for inadvertent impact from an update is very real. On the other hand most users will benefit from the update and therefore it is better to release the changes than not to.
How do you protect your network?
In a professionally managed network the automatic updates get collected when released and then applied at a time that is chosen by the network administrator. Picking a time that will have less potential to impact their users, adminstrators are able to deploy updates on a schedule that permits them to deal with any issues created with less disruption. Picking this timing is something that is specific to each IT network and therefore it takes the individual network admin to determine what fits their system. Knowing when the updates are being applied also permits easier scheduling of resources to be available for performing any adjustments that might be needed post application.
Get professional advice.
For smaller organizations without full time network administration this process is something to discuss with your managed services program vendor to determine what is the best route for you. Do you stay with automatic deployment on Tuesday nights knowing the network might need adjusting Wednesday morning? Do you have updates captured and deployed at another time? Discussing what is best for your operation is a worthwhile excercise.
It is important to understand that you can go along for many weeks or months or even years and not have auto updates cause you any problems. Other than the potential for a need to have a reboot of the computer they are being loaded on, the update process can be almost seamless in automatic mode.
For most workstations and home computers the automatic process is fine and can make it easier to ensure updates are done. The risk of not doing updates is an increased security risk and potential operating problems if any of the bugs that are being repaired occur on your equipment. Forgetting to load the updates if not set for automatic is a bigger problem in most instances than the issues the automatic process will create. If you have a professional IT administrator looking after your systems, whether in-house or an outsourced resource they will be able to advise you what is best for you.
Do Windows updates cause isssue in your IT network? Do you ensure they are deployed?
Your comments are welcomed.