General Question

valdasta's avatar

Are the "Windows updates" necessary?

Asked by valdasta (2146points) September 17th, 2010
8 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

The last time Windows ran the updates my PC didn’t work right. Some of my programs froze and I couldn’t access the internet. I did a restore prior to the update and I am back in business. Now, Windows wants to update again. What should I do?

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john65pennington's avatar

Same here. i left it alone. i partially downloaded the updates and realized it was taking way too long and deleted it. i have Defender-Pro 15 anitvirus on my pc and this is all i need. for some reason, i suspect a virus in that download. handsoff of it here.

Austinlad's avatar

Not saying it’s necessarily the right or good thing to do, but I’ve always installed all Windows updates (especially ones dealing with security), figuring there’s a reason Microsoft is pushing them to my computer. Yes, some fail to install and some are probably useless, even bloating—but I install them anyway.

robmandu's avatar

Here’s a list of the CRITICAL patches that my company deployed just for August this year:

MS10–049 – – Vulnerabilities in SChannel could allow Remote Code Execution (980436)

MS10–051 – – Vulnerability in Microsoft XML Core Services Could Allow Remote Code Execution (2079403)

MS10–052 – – Vulnerability in Microsoft MPEG Layer-3 Codecs Could Allow Remote Code Execution (2115168)

MS10–053 – – Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (2183461)

MS10–054 – – Vulnerabilities in SMB Server Could Allow Remote Code Execution (982214)

MS10–055 – – Vulnerability in Cinepak Codec Could Allow Remote Code Execution (982665)

MS10–056 – – Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office Word Could Allow Remote Code Execution (2269638)

MS10–060 – – Vulnerabilities in the Microsoft .NET Common Language Runtime and in Microsoft Silverlight Could Allow Remote Code Execution (2265906)

See all those mentions of “Remote Code Execution”? That’s where someone could hijack your PC without your knowing it and have it do things you don’t want done. Not necessarily attacking your stuff either… but they could just be stealing processing time and internet bandwidth to perform their own jobs… like massive spam campaigns or denial of service attacks. Read more about the Storm botnet to give you an idea.

Microsoft Windows is the ultimate virus distribution vector. Yes, those updates are NECESSARY. And I’m sorry that the process is so crappy that it breaks your system.

Speaking of the Storm botnet, many such worm utilities will purposely break a Windows system’s ability to apply patches and updates in order to ensure that the worm itself can continue to run unimpeded. I hope that’s not the case with your system.

valdasta's avatar

@robmandu How would I know if that is the case?

robmandu's avatar

@valdasta, there’s so much malware out there for Windows, the attack vectors at their disposal are so varied, and Windows security architecture is so poor that it’s almost a practical impossibility for you to determine with 100% certainty if your system has been compromised.

You cannot trust anti-virus scanner software. First of all, no single anti-virus utility can detect all known (let alone unknown) malware signatures. You must use 2, 3, or more. Second, and perhaps most important, some of the more elegant malware attacks specifically block the anti-virus scanner’s ability to work which allows them to hide and continue operations.

In my experience and observations, the only sure-fire way to have a clean system is to reformat the hard drive, re-install the OS with all the latest patches, and then re-install your trusted applications. And then you’ll want to carefully re-introduce data files in case they have any unwanted hitchhiker malware.

BTW, for your original question – assuming there’s zero malware on your machine – you might just have some conflicting files, partial installs, whatever. The fix for that would be the same: reformat and reinstall.

Of course, that’s way too cumbersome to deal with on a regular basis, even if only once a year. So, most of us who are afflicted with running Windows everyday just take the normal countermeasures (anti-virus + frequent patches + be careful what you download) and hope for the best, replacing our system every couple of years or so.

UScitizen's avatar

Yes, all critical updates are necessary. Back up all data first. Try downloading the exe for each update. Install one at a time. If this doesn’t work, insert windows disk, delete partition, create partition, format, install windows, install all updates, defrag. Copy your data back for use on the primary hard drive.

the100thmonkey's avatar

After reading @robmandu‘s post, I am moved to ask whether Windows is really necessary.

EdwinGrey's avatar

Windows is necessary for wasting our time maintaining it rather than getting any actual work accomplished. It also creates jobs for people who maintain it for a living.

If you need to use Windows, and you’re not sure if you have a virus, do a clean install while not connected to the Internet, apply the security updates, install the software and drivers you need, and adjust the settings. Then use a utility like XXCLONE to back up the whole thing to another hard drive so that you have a backup that’s easy t restore.

Now you can get on the Internet and look for more updates.

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