DESIGN

A Case Against Automatic Updates

For Windows 10 Microsoft decided that Windows updates will be installed automatically. In addition, Windows Defender definition files and Windows store applications are automatically updated, as are things like "Maps" and "Tiles" and "OneDrive". And those are only the rather obvious ones.

It Is Not Just Windows

When a computer program (software) is installed on your computer, many (if not most) will have an "Automatic Update" feature. Some, like Mozilla Firefox, lets you control it, saying:

Firefox UpdateFirefox Update

Others, like Google Chrome, offer no such choice and installs Services:

Google Update ServicesGoogle Update Services

Other software that install update Services or Scheduled Tasks include your computer manufacturer (like Dell which installs four), device makers (internal like video and external like USB devices), third party software bundled with your computer, media programs, video games, and, well, just about everything that you install.

The argument for auto-updates ranges from "keep your software up to date" to "keep your system safe".

And for not, from "security risk" (Microsoft, Mozilla) to "security vulnerabilities may arise" (Google).

Such words, read literally, can be considered an admission of guilt, of knowingly supplying insecure software. Microsoft has done so since Windows 95. Internet Explorer, Microsoft Word and whatever their Mail program was, were all full of flaws and vulnerabilities - as most everyone knows.

And what was Microsoft's answer to selling badly broken software? Not "We will improve security," but "Install Anti-Virus software!" Which of course needs constant updates, and, as Kaspery (sp?) Labs does, not just download files but upload "suspicious" files to their servers.

(Windows too has various services and tasks that upload data from your computer, as do programs like Firefox and Chrome and GoogleMaps and who knows how many others.)

And then there are all those services and tasks (like Windows Defender) that are at times disk intensive.

Why All This Matters

This is why it matters to me:

I connect to the Internet while trying to get some work done and a minute later the system slows down to a crawl.
I am in the middle of updating one of my websites when suddenly uploads slow down to kilo-bits per second and network traffic transactions (like editing a file via a remote server) begin to timeout.
I started a software update (yes, some software does inform you when updates are available) and the estimate of time to finish goes from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Those are but a few examples of system resource depletion as the network and disk and CPU all start running at 90%-100% capacity, while memory becomes exhausted, possibly swapping in and out of a swap file, as Windows downloads updates and at the same time indexes and scans every file on the hard drive as it detects files being changed.

Running Without Control

Services and tasks run without regard to system load or to available memory or to network speed or to how many other processes are running.

They run "whenever" - at a fixed time or interval, when you start or end a session, when an Internet connection becomes available. If a task is to be run a 6:00AM, what happens to it when you turn your computer on a 9:00AM? When does a task that is set to run a 2:00AM really run?

Why does "Anti-Virus" software suddenly start scanning every file on your hard drive when you are only browsing the Internet and maybe editing a few documents? Doing so every day and nearly all day.

Worsening the situation is that many software updates and installs leaves tens of megabytes or more of backup, uninstall and temporary files, with their log files continuously growing in size, possibly by megabytes each time. Meanwhile, recent and history directories are growing continuously. Event and cache files have long maxed out and are overwriting older data.

What All This Means

What all this means is that your computer's performance degrades over time By Design.

All that can be done is to slow the process down so your computer fails later rather than sooner.

There will be more on this later - some things to do to take back some control:

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