Duck and cover: Turn off Windows Automatic Update and block the Win10 1809 upgrade

We don’t know if Microsoft still intends to push machines to the next version of Win10 on Tuesday, but given the horrific mess the 1809 upgrade created last week, you’d be well advised to lock everything down.

Duck and cover: Turn off Windows Automatic Update and block the Win10 1809 upgrade
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September patches looked good for a while, then we got hit with four big, buggy Win10 cumulative updates. August Windows and Office patches went pretty well in spite of a last-minute rush to fix bugs introduced in earlier patches. July patches, however, left almost every version of Windows looking like a zombie apocalypse.

With its deleted Documents feature and a swelling list of Version 1809 bugs, October patching has so far plumbed new depths, even by Microsoft’s patching standards. On a scale of 1 to 10, we’re sitting at Mariana Trench depths.

And capping all of that — even after yanking the 1809 upgrade —Microsoft hasn’t said a peep about its intentions for this month’s Patch Tuesday. We don’t know if the company intends to go ahead with its announced rollout of Win10 version 1809 upgrades or if it’s still licking its wounds. For that matter, we don’t even know what wounds exist — what triggers the deletion of data on upgraded machines or how to prevent it. All we have are the usual assurances that everything’s copacetic, that Microsoft has the tools to set you right. Yeah, right.

All we know is that the Win10 1809 upgrade has been yanked, and it’ll be reinstated at some point in the future. Whether that future includes Patch Tuesday this month remains to be seen. We don’t know. Nobody’s said.

If you leave Automatic Updates turned on in the aftermath of what we’ve seen in the past week, I salute you. Somebody has to walk around with a “Kick Me” sign stuck on their back.

For the sentient part of the Windows universe, now's a good time to make sure Automatic Update is turned off. At some point in the future, you'll need to update, but for now there's no sense poking the Windows bear.

How to block Windows Update

The methods for blocking Windows Update are pretty straightforward.

If you’re using Windows 7 or 8.1, click Start > Control Panel > System and Security. Under Windows Update, click the "Turn automatic updating on or off" link. Click the "Change Settings" link on the left. Verify that you have Important Updates set to "Never check for updates (not recommended)", and click OK.

If you’re using Windows 10 Pro version 1703, 1709, 1803, or 1809 (!), and Microsoft doesn’t change its mind again, you can use Windows’ built-in tools to hold off on the looming patches — just follow Steps 7 and 8 in 8 steps to install Windows 10 patches like a pro. Other Windows 10 users, including all Win10 Home owners, aren’t quite so lucky, but the general “metered connection” approach is detailed in Woody's Win10Tip: Block forced Windows updates.

If you’re a Paranoid Pro, it’d be wise to use both the Update advanced options approach and the metered connection approach. You can never have too much protection.

To keep your machine on 1703, 1709 or 1803 — and avoid the train wreck known as version 1809 — follow the detailed steps in "How to block the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, version 1809, from installing." Yes, Microsoft has yanked the 1809 upgrade, but we have no idea when they might suddenly change their minds or have another “oops” experience and suddenly forget to honor their own settings.

No reason to move to Win10 1809 anytime soon

In case it isn’t crystal clear, there’s absolutely no reason to move to Win10 version 1809 anytime in the foreseeable future. The miserly feature improvements (most of which are readily available in third-party add-ons) don’t justify the trauma of installing a totally new operating system.

Supposedly, Microsoft is dropping security patches for Win10 version 1703 as of tomorrow, Patch Tuesday. That’s a bit of a rub for me and some of you because we're still using 1703. It isn’t clear if the 1703 security patches will actually stop on October 9 — there’s always a chance (dare I say likelihood?) that bugs introduced by tomorrow’s patches will be fixed later in the month. But it’s clear that 1703’s days are numbered in the double digits.

More on that as the month unfolds..

We’re at MS-DEFCON 1 on the AskWoody Lounge.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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