My laptop's cpu always runs nearly 100% like forever everytime I boot into Windows XP. I have located the problem comes from the Windows Automatic Updates service.

(1) I have followed the advice on How to Fix svchost.exe using 100% CPU / Memory Leak . But the problem remains, i.e. the auto updates is still very CPU intensive. Anything I am missing?

(2) I finally found that if I turn off Automatic Updates of Windows under System Configuration Utilities -> Services, the problem is gone.

I was wondering if turning auto updates off will do any harm? What can I do, for example to keep Windows up to date while turning auto updates off?



Automatic updates are almost more important these days that having an up-to-date antivirus, as the detect rate for new virus/trojans is quite low since the malware world get "professionalized" (source), mainly because the bad guys release hundreds of variants every day.

If you close the backdoor that the malware uses for installing in your system without your knowledge, your are protected even if the AV doesn't detect it. Of course, antivirus are still useful for detecting malware disguised as other software (but note that they don't detect all malware, so be cautious).

Anyway, you can manually update you computer in several ways:

  • Use Windows Update. When you connect to its page it will scan the system, detect the missing updates, and offer to install it. I recommend upgrading to Microsoft Update since it also updates Office and other MS products.

  • Use Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer. It will check your computer for missing updates and other security vulnerabilities. Not as easy to use as Windows Update but more comprehensive.

    Usually you only need to do this once every month, since MS release the security updates the second Tuesday of the month, but some times they release an update sooner if the problem is critical.

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You can most certainly turn off automatic updates and should if it is making the device unusable. Run services.msc, disable the Automatic Updates service. To keep your computer updated with security releases, you will now have to use the manual scheduler (your memory or other device). I suggest running Microsoft Update at least weekly, preferably Tuesday late (since MS releases more patches Tuesdays, except for out-of-band). You will have to enable Automatic Updates before using either Microsoft Update or Windows Update. Also, and this is crucial for you and anyone on Windows XP, create yourself a user account that is a Non-Administrator. Use that normal user account for everything you do, except for: Modifying Security (modifying users or permissions), Add/Remove programs or drivers. For all other (normal) usage, you should be on the non-privileged user account.

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