Windows updates driving me crazy

  • #1
sandy stone
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TL;DR Summary
Incessant updates sucking up computing resources
Is anyone else experiencing this, or do I have some problem with my system? Almost every time I wake my computer from sleep mode, Windows springs into action downloading updates and hogging resources, locking out other programs (my browser, mail) for minutes at a time. I base this on the tasks "System", "Service host: Windows Update", "Windows Module Installer Worker", and "Service host: Unistack Service Group(4)" being the main culprits in Task Manager. Windows Defender keeps assuring me that everything is OK, that I don't have any viruses, but this is getting truly annoying. Does anyone have any insights?
 
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  • #2
sandy stone said:
Does anyone have any insights?
Windows 7 is stable and does not often receive updates.
 
  • #3
Baluncore said:
Windows 7 is stable and does not often receive updates.
Because it reached EOL four years back. So no security updates either; CVEs remain unpatched.
 
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  • #4
sandy stone said:
TL;DR Summary: Incessant updates sucking up computing resources

Is anyone else experiencing this, or do I have some problem with my system? Almost every time I wake my computer from sleep mode,
How long was it in sleep mode? Was it a long time? I have not noticed this on my computers except when I restart my laptop that has not been used for months.
sandy stone said:
Windows springs into action downloading updates and hogging resources, locking out other programs (my browser, mail) for minutes at a time.
I never try to use my computers when updates are in progress. I'm not sure what that might do. Many updates (especially bios updates) require a restart.
sandy stone said:
I base this on the tasks "System", "Service host: Windows Update", "Windows Module Installer Worker", and "Service host: Unistack Service Group(4)" being the main culprits in Task Manager. Windows Defender keeps assuring me that everything is OK, that I don't have any viruses, but this is getting truly annoying. Does anyone have any insights?
Do you know if the downloads and installs completed successfully? Maybe it keeps trying to install the same update and keeps failing.
 
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  • #5
I use Windows 10 and only rarely get updates ** because, like 7, it is no longer supported. If you are using 11, it's probably getting a lot of necessary updates. Windows is STUNNINGLY complicated under the hood and new issue come up all the time.

**EDIT: OOPS ! Just realized, I NEVER get Windows updates. I was thinking of browser updates.
 
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  • #6
That was one of the reasons I switched to Linux when I was using Windows 10. It was in 2018 and I never looked back. With Linux, you own the programs and do whatever you want with them; With Windows (or Apple), they own the programs and you have to use the services they offer according to their will.

Going back to my Linux installation first impressions, well, things have evolved a lot. I don't deal with most of the programs mentioned in that link and I favor using my own programs. Learning how to use Bash programs is so much fun and empowering.

Since then, I have been involved in the Tor and I2P networks and, up to this day, I have set up 17 servers around the world. The installation and monitoring processes are mostly automated in Bash programs I wrote, all done from my home computer, including automatic updates and backups.

Again, fun and empowering.
 
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  • #7
Windows updates have always been intrusive. And they will continue to be so. The only way to get rid of this is to get rid of Windows itself and switch to Linux. It depends on what you do on the computer, though. If you use some software that has versions only for Windows, and you can't ditch them under any circumstances, and they don't work on VMs well, then bad luck. Some software, like ones used in crystallography, are closed source and do not have packages for Linux. That doesn't mean all closed-source software does that; MATLAB, for instance, has packages for Linux.

I, for instance, use Ubuntu, but have a VM on which I have a paid version of Adobe Acrobat Pro, which I need (once in a long while) to edit some PDF.
 
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  • #8
FactChecker said:
How long was it in sleep mode? Was it a long time? I have not noticed this on my computers except when I restart my laptop that has not been used for months.

I never try to use my computers when updates are in progress. I'm not sure what that might do. Many updates (especially bios updates) require a restart.

Do you know if the downloads and installs completed successfully? Maybe it keeps trying to install the same update and keeps failing.
Sleep mode was only overnight. How would you know if an update was successful or not?
 
  • #9
sandy stone said:
How would you know if an update was successful or not?
Check the update history:

 
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  • #10
I too am very annoyed by Windows intrusiveness as well as it "mother knows best" attitude and lack of transparency. That being said have you explored start/settings/ windows update? You can see the update history and choose "axtive hours" where updates are (ostensibly) forbidden among other things. Give it a little bit of a look...
I would be (would have been) happy with XP forever, but there is no money to be made there.......so I like Win10 OK but soon that will be unsupported. I am too old for this agita......arghhh
 
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  • #11
Back in "The Good Old Days," Win XP and earlier, there were patches available from 3rd party on-line sites that blocked updates --- and they worked! (People were getting Pissed about Microsoft disabling features that they were using.)

I would not be surprised if patches exist for current Win versions. You just have to be rather cavalier to risk them. Make backups before using! YMMV.
 
  • #12
sandy stone said:
TL;DR Summary: Incessant updates sucking up computing resources

Is anyone else experiencing this, or do I have some problem with my system? Almost every time I wake my computer from sleep mode, Windows springs into action downloading updates and hogging resources, locking out other programs (my browser, mail) for minutes at a time. I base this on the tasks "System", "Service host: Windows Update", "Windows Module Installer Worker", and "Service host: Unistack Service Group(4)" being the main culprits in Task Manager. Windows Defender keeps assuring me that everything is OK, that I don't have any viruses, but this is getting truly annoying. Does anyone have any insights?
I had that about fifteen years ago. It rendered my computer unusable. I disabled all updates.

I get updates nowadays. They don't bother me at all. It depends on how efficient your downloads.
 
  • #13
sandy stone said:
Does anyone have any insights?
Based on the description, you have a PC (Likely: tablet? Laptop?) at the lower end of the performance scale.
You are just pressured to get a beefier one.
Though these days most tablets can handle a Linux. Might worth a look.
Mine (old Intel I3) will get that in a year or so, I think. Win10 was convenient for some time, but now it is not convenient much longer.
 
  • #14
A few days ago, so probably the same Win#10 update cycle, I got usual prompt for the 'needs re-start to complete'.
Took a while to install, suddenly jumped from 0% to 100 %. Then took about an hour to 'Clean Up'.

Not sure how long, because I went for leisurely mug of caffeine then tackled list of domestic 'ToDos'.

Another exasperation is Win'10 keeps nagging me to upgrade to #11 but, each time I run compatibility check it says 'UNSUITABLE'. Partly because my CAD_PC's big Gigabyte mobo needs a plug-in security chip. Similarly, my #10 'Network Render' Box needs related, but different leg-count chip to support #11...

Sadly, I fear that, should I fit such, I'll return to my updated #10 PCs to find #11 grinning back at me. Minus familiar Notepad, minus Wordpad. Loss of either would hurt, not least because latter is excellent for editing links / calls within sprawling OBJ 3D model files...

Oh, and the 'Win Knows Best' OS attitude spills over to their procrustean browser, too. I loathe 'Edge' or whatever its current incarnation. I keep it installed, garaged like an old 'beater' car for when I need to check if a site's problems are but a Chrome cookie throwing hissy fit...

And, given Microsoft's scary history of taking up to a year to patch zero-day exploit loopholes, I trust their security about as far as I could throw my floor-stood CAD_PC's tower case and its kilowatt PSU: Despite Norton's up-selling efforts, that product's still my preferred gate-guard...
 
  • #15
hutchphd said:
I too am very annoyed by Windows intrusiveness as well as it "mother knows best" attitude and lack of transparency. That being said have you explored start/settings/ windows update? You can see the update history and choose "axtive hours" where updates are (ostensibly) forbidden among other things. Give it a little bit of a look...
I would be (would have been) happy with XP forever, but there is no money to be made there.......so I like Win10 OK but soon that will be unsupported. I am too old for this agita......arghhh
That sounds promising. I'll give it a look, thanks.
 
  • #16
FYI, July 9th was Patch Tuesday. MS typically bundles together updates and pushes them out on the second Tuesday of every month. So you should expect it then, but be mostly free of updates otherwise.
 
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  • #17
Baluncore said:
Windows 7 is stable and does not often receive updates.

But this:

Wrichik Basu said:
Because it reached EOL four years back. So no security updates either; CVEs remain unpatched.

Windows 7 is only 'stable' in the sense that its vulnerability to attack is permanent.

phinds said:
I use Windows 10 and only rarely get updates ** because, like 7, it is no longer supported.

This is not true - in fact the latest Windows 10 update was rolled out the day before yesterday.

phinds said:
**EDIT: OOPS ! Just realized, I NEVER get Windows updates.

Sounds like you have turned them off: this is probably a bad idea.
 
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  • #18
jack action said:
With Linux, you own the programs
This is not true.

jack action said:
With Windows (or Apple) ... you have to use the services they offer according to their will.

And the update service for most Linux distros is the same, except that with Linux 'they' are generally a couple of dozen people scattered around the world doing whatever they want to whereas with Windows 'they' are a few thousand people in Redmond who are paid to keep Windows on track.
 
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  • #19
I haven't been counting but I must have had at least three updates this year, one a few days ago. I've had my computer spontaneously shut down after the previous update. Chrome is my default browser so I wonder if MSFT hasn't finagled a way to get me to switch to Edge. When I download a PDF file in Chrome it is stored on my HD as a MS PDF file and opened in Edge.
 
  • #20
pbuk said:
And the update service for most Linux distros is the same, except that with Linux 'they' are generally a couple of dozen people scattered around the world doing whatever they want to
There are highly respected Linux distros that allow the user to have great control over the appearance and behavior of the OS. You just need to pick a distro and options that suits your preferences. IMO, Windows is not nearly the same -- you just get what they tell you you need.
 
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  • #21
FactChecker said:
MO, Windows is not nearly the same -- you just get what they say you need.
Or what they want you to have.
 
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  • #22
gleem said:
I haven't been counting but I must have had at least three updates this year, one a few days ago. I've had my computer spontaneously shut down after the previous update. Chrome is my default browser so I wonder if MSFT hasn't finagled a way to get me to switch to Edge. When I download a PDF file in Chrome it is stored on my HD as a MS PDF file and opened in Edge.
MS probably sets the default program for opening a PDF file to EDGE. Just change the default program to whatever you want.

1720722404410.png
 
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  • #23
pbuk said:
jack action said:
With Linux, you own the programs

This is not true.

Maybe not the appropriate term. I meant it in the way that it is free and open-source, as you can do pretty much whatever you want with it:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_and_open-source_software said:
Free and open-source software (FOSS) is software that is available under a license that grants the right to use, modify, and distribute the software, modified or not, to everyone free of charge.

pbuk said:
jack action said:
With Windows (or Apple), ... you have to use the services they offer according to their will.

And the update service for most Linux distros is the same, except that with Linux 'they' are generally a couple of dozen people scattered around the world doing whatever they want to whereas with Windows 'they' are a few thousand people in Redmond who are paid to keep Windows on track.
I did mean "service" in general and not just "update service". The GAFAM guarantees you a program (and sometimes even a device) that will do a certain task, period. How it does it is not of your concern. You cannot share with others; the GAFAM wants to deal directly with every client. They usually want the update process under their full control as it may affect their reputation if you don't do it correctly.

Even though there are update services for Linux, the developers don't care how you choose to do them or if you don't do them at all. It is your machine, your programs, your responsibility. Why would they? Since you can modify how the programs work to suit your needs anyway. The developers don't even have to feel obligated to offer an updating service.

With GAFAM, you hire a contractor to get a turnkey solution to rebuild your kitchen; with Linux, you get the tools and material to do it yourself. Of course, the "tool" vendors are often trying to ease your load a lot if they want their product to be chosen.
 
  • #24
I regularly close by putting the computer into sleep mode. But every month or six weeks, I tell it to do the download and update.
If the gap between updates that you run is very long, then the download and update takes ages. I used to do the updates every three or four months and had similar problems, which seemed to be due to only some of the updates completing themselves due to depending on earlier updates being completed, hence there would be a series of updates.
Try doing a monthly update, rather than once every three or four months.
 
  • #25
Revisiting this issue, I backed up my system and with some trepidation allowed Windows to defrag my hard drive. I am mildly encouraged by the results; I'm still getting the updates, but they at least run faster. My update history shows successful updates at the rate of roughly twice a month; I'm not sure why these downloads are coming in seemingly every morning. Expanding the "active hours" on my system only seems to disable forced restarts, not the downloading of updates.

So, maybe I can just try speed up my system and live with Microsoft bombarding me. I have 12 Gb of RAM, with about 4 dedicated to a swap file. I can expand to 16 Gb pretty economically. Would it be worthwhile to do that, and expand the swap file at the same time, or should I just bite the bullet and go to 32 Gb?
 
  • #26
sandy stone said:
Expanding the "active hours" on my system only seems to disable forced restarts, not the downloading of updates.
Yes I think you are correct.
 
  • #27
It's not just Windows. I have a program from...um...another vendor (cough, Autodesk, cough) It would download the update, try and install it, run out of TEMP space and try again and again on the next boots. Drove me nuts - my network was slow and I kept running out of space on TEMP.
 
  • #28
sandy stone said:
So, maybe I can just try speed up my system
...
allowed Windows to defrag my hard drive
If you still have a spinning platter, good idea - get a decent SSD*.

sandy stone said:
I have 12 Gb of RAM, with about 4 dedicated to a swap file.
This does not make sense - swap files live on a disk, not in memory.

sandy stone said:
Would it be worthwhile to do that, and expand the swap file at the same time, or should I just bite the bullet and go to 32 Gb?
Unless you are running a number of virtual machines, really large spreadsheets or some special code running big computations more RAM is likely to be a waste of time. Does Performance Monitor say you are running low?

* Edit: this will also force you to do a full 'bare metal' installation of Windows which is likely to solve a LOT of problems, assuming you don't reinstall all the junk you have there at the moment that you probably don't even know about.
 
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  • #29
pbuk said:
If you still have a spinning platter, good idea - get a decent SSD*.


This does not make sense - swap files live on a disk, not in memory.


Unless you are running a number of virtual machines, really large spreadsheets or some special code running big computations more RAM is likely to be a waste of time. Does Performance Monitor say you are running low?

* Edit: this will also force you to do a full 'bare metal' installation of Windows which is likely to solve a LOT of problems, assuming you don't reinstall all the junk you have there at the moment that you probably don't even know about.
My mistake on the swap file - what I meant to say, was that if I add RAM then the swap file on disk wouldn't be accessed as often.

Thanks all for your comments.
 
  • #30
Have I missed something - I can't see any mention of which version of Windows you have.
And no mention of the size of your hard disk and how much free space is available on it.

As for a swap file - can't remember when I last used one of those.

Because your experience of updates is unlike anything I've experienced except on a 13 year old computer I am occasional required to work with for a particular client.
 
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  • #31
DrJohn said:
As for a swap file - can't remember when I last used one of those.
Windows creates one and uses it automagically. By default, it resides on the C: drive. Which, even if you have several drives, is the one most heavily used.

At least on the older versions of Windows, it was possible to relocate the Swap File to other drives. Then the heaviest usage is still often the C: drive with around 50% - 60% usage, followed by the swap drive.

Also, older versions defaulted to a relatively small swap file which really slowed down the system. This is where I got the most speed-up. IIRC, I had to edit the Registry to increase the file size.

PhotoShop for instance creates its own swap files, but at least gives you the option to specify their locations.

So yeah, moving the swap files to an SSD can speed things up if your disk is slow or fragmented and the memory usage is tight.

Cheers,
Tom
 
  • #32
My system is about 4 years old, so Windows 10 version 22H2. 12 Gb RAM, right now about 60% used. 917 Gb hard drive, 146 Gb used, 770 Gb free. The bottleneck appears to be the hard drive, since the usage goes to 100% when the system bogs down; there has been some improvement since I defragged it.

I think my original post was triggered by the monthly update russ_watters mentioned, but even this morning I saw "Service Host: Windows Update" run for 10 seconds or so when I woke up the system, backing out my browser. I'm still considering adding RAM to see if that helps, since it's pretty inexpensive.
 
  • #33
I don't think it is due to RAM. Windows 10 ran quite happily on 8Gb on my last Win 10 machine, while my partner also has only 8Gb on her machine. She also has just a 237 Gb disk, with about 130 Gb free. On her 8 year old laptop. With the same windows version as you quote above.

Her updates take 10 - 15 minutes - she hardly uses the PC at all and we are at the 15 minute mark in an update just now (I decided to test how long it took).
Edit: Then 10 minutes more to complete the restart and installation. I think it is almost 3 months since she last did an update.

So don't waste money on RAM, that is not your problem. She doesn't put her computer to sleep, she switches it off. So either you have too many things open at once coming out of sleep mode, or a dodgy hard disk. Try closing it down completely, then starting up and letting it run the updates with nothing else going on. For example, start it before going to bed or just after you get up.

Edit: Of course it might be that you are just a bit impatient, as from start to finish we have just taken 25 minutes.
Trying to avoid the updates tends to result in it taking much longer to complete when you finally do it,
 
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  • #34
I agree that additional RAM should not change anything. When you say:
sandy stone said:
Windows springs into action downloading updates and hogging resources, locking out other programs (my browser, mail) for minutes at a time.
I think you have the same problem I did: It is your connection that is saturated by the files transferred for the update. And then you can't use your browser or email. I never had the fastest connection available. (I have a 30 Mbps now.)
 
  • #35
If changing OS is not an option, then I would recommend not putting the system to sleep at all. This statement holds irrespective of whether the system is a laptop or a desktop. For a laptop, just keep it connected to power, disable sleep when the lid is closed, and leave it there. Windows has an option to automatically do an update if the system is idle for some time. Afaik, this "some time" can be modified too.
 
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