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I have recently come across two Win 7 PC's which were configured by a professional however they both had Microsoft Automatic Updates disabled. The PC's are mostly for home use.

What legitimate reason could there be for this? (The users have ample download limits).

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It has been my experience that being paid to do a job does not necessarily mean one is a professional. –  Keltari Aug 25 '11 at 0:51
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migrated from serverfault.com Apr 28 '11 at 12:34

This question came from our site for professional system and network administrators.

5 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

For home use, best bet is to leave AU on, there really isn't a good reason not to. In a managed environment, there are usually testing/dev machines available, and a more robust security plan in place such as GPO and a business grade firewall to keep the machines under a more watchful eye.

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I'm going to buck the trend here; updates installing on their own is not always the best thing. While it's rare, Windows Updates have been known to release with serious bugs that can cause problems to a machine...these are usually caught and pulled inside about 12 hours of release, though. I have seen DRIVER updates (not OS updates) that come down through WU cause serious problems, including and not limited to completely disabling the network card in a machine.

I work for a very high end custom PC builder, and we ship machines with important updates set to download automatically but not install until the user does so (either by manually clicking 'install' or manually rebooting the machine). This way, you do keep current with important bugfixes and patches, but the delay is such that if there's any serious problems it generally gets pulled before it actually happens. (We built the personal workstations of half the board of Microsoft and they don't seem to have any argument. There's also the simple inconvenience factor of the machine pestering you for a reboot after pulling down updates, which this solves.)

EDIT: I can think of no legitimate reason to COMPLETELY disable updates outside of a heavily managed corporate network, as Dan mentions in his answer, or alternately a machine that simply isn't connected to the internet, of course. Beyond that, there would have to be an awfully specific reason (possibly "I"m paranoid and want to install them all by hand", lol)

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Windows 7 is no different than any other Windows OS. Updates should always been enabled and set to automatic. The benefits especially for a home user to combat potential security problems out ways any potential update problems (rolling back is very very easy if needed).

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This is valid for a home environment, but in most cases it is not suitable in an enterprise environment. –  Rory Alsop Apr 28 '11 at 13:44
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On home machines I would recommend updates to be switched on. On a business machine there are some reasons why you might not want updates on. Generally this setting though would be controlled via group policy giving the end user no option to change the setting.

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I think this is more of a matter of preference. Some people don't like to turn on their updates for varied reasons. Personally, I leave mine on because I tend to forget to update the PC sometimes: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/Turn-automatic-updating-on-or-off

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