Blog / Life’s Little Irritations

The real problems started when I fired up my computer on Monday.  Windows 10 had to complete the updates.  I was more-than-a-little impatient and so I tried to force my favourite programs to launch even though I knew Windows wasn’t quite finished updating.  Bad move – the laptop froze, which forced a hard restart.  The process started all over again.  This time I waited it out – and also had a closer look at what was going on.  I opened the Task Manager (right-click on the bottom menu bar and choose Task Manager) and looked at the Processes tab. It lists all of the tasks that Windows is performing.  Most of them run in the background and are not part of the active applications you have open.  In this case, I only had the Task Manager open.

Surprise! There were about 100 processes running and the CPU load was between 20 and 90%.  The memory usage was anywhere from 10 to 60%.  All of this when the computer is supposed to be doing nothing. You might expect this when you first start the computer, but 25 minutes later, it was still processing the updates.  Without delving into a lot of technical analysis, here is a common theme for a single update:

  • Windows Modules Update Installer Worker started a process.  This started the:
  • System Host, which started the:
  • Windows Driver Foundation, after which the
  • Trend Micro unauthorized change prevent feature started.  Finally, the
  • Microsoft Search Indexer started, after which the
  • Trend Micro unauthorized change prevent feature started again.
One update spawned 6 processes. This cycle repeated several times as Windows Update worked through the list of tasks.  I have a robust and up-to-date laptop with the best CPU, Solid State Drive, and lots of memory – and it was working hard to complete the updates.
So, besides a Monday morning irritation, what’s the message? Well, it could have a significant negative impact on your network. Starting with Windows 10, Microsoft changed the method and frequency of the updates it provides.  Its no longer possible to opt-out of the update service – or have the computer prompt you to choose which updates are implemented.  In addition, to handle the volume of updates, Microsoft no longer release updates on the same schedule for all computers.  Thus computers in the same office may update on different days and at different times; there is no way to predict the schedule.  Finally, the updates to Windows 10 appear to be larger and more frequent than Windows 7.  Thus, more Internet bandwidth is being used as each computer downloads it’s own update package.

To combat the negative impacts on corporate networks, Microsoft are recommending that a Windows Update Services (WinSUS) be implemented.  WinSUS isn’t new; allows network administrators to  control the update processes of Windows computers by pooling update downloads and scheduling selected updates for off-hours. However, WinSUS is now becoming mandatory for networks with more than 25 Windows 10 computers. And WinSUS is a resource-intensive service that should reside on a dedicated server (physical or virtual) environment.

Which means another server environment and something else to manage.

While users think Windows 10 Updates are just another of life’s little irritants, network administrators need to take the issue more seriously and provision yet another server to manage the process.

Please contact us or  you primary tech if you would like more information on managing Windows 10 Updates on your network.