Computer TLC tips. What happens if you skip updates?
I can’t begin to guess how many times a customer has called to have a computer replaced, which has been running so slowly for so long that it’s been dismissed as obsolete, when the only thing wrong with it has been Windows Updates.
This subject has never been more important than with Windows version 10! Since its release, Windows 10 has been proactively releasing major version updates at scheduled intervals. Initially, released as v1507, the version numbers started with the last 2 digits of the release year followed by the two-digit month of the year. Versions 1511, 1607, 1703, 1709, 1803, 1809, 1903, 1909 and 2004 followed. Thereafter, Microsoft changed the nomenclature to the two-digit year of the release followed by H1 or H2 for first or second half of the year. This resulted in versions 20H2 and the current 21H1 update for the first half of 2021.
These updates are giant updates as big as the old Service Packs and can require multiple restarts over hours of installation time, depending on the resources of the hardware and internet bandwidth.
A recent issue with these particular updates is the tendency to look like the computer has crashed. Long periods of apparent inactivity causing the user to attempt a restart can cause even more problems, including complete irreparable failure.
Another relatively recent issue is the popularity of notebooks. The majority of users are now habitually closing lids of devices and putting them to sleep instead of shutting down properly.
In many cases, these huge background processes aren’t being given the time they need to complete and are either having to start again, back out of partial installs or are corrupting the operating system.
If your machine is running very slow, it’s worth checking how “busy” your hard drive activity light is. If it’s blinking very fast or is continuously on, it may be busy running a huge update.
Type “Update” in your search bar and click on the “Windows Update Settings” option. You may see a Downloading or Installing condition which you should allow to complete. Scroll down in the same window and have a look at the “OS build info” link. You should see your Version in the “Windows specifications” section. This shouldn’t be any older than the current or last version.
It’s perfectly fine to start an update if you have the time. If you hit the “Check for updates” button on the previous window, make sure you allow for plenty of time, save your work in case you have to walk away because the system may restart after installing an update. If you see a “Pending restart” message, you can restart the system after the current operations are complete and your programs are closed. Above all, have patience and allow the machine more than the normal amount of time for shut-down and restart. The hard disk activity light is your beacon of comfort! If it’s blinking, the machine hasn’t crashed!