Windows Machines Need Up to Eight Hours to Update Successfully

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We are thankfully past the days when you have to dial in with a modem and tie up your phone line to get online. Connectivity is essentially continuous for most devices, but what if it’s not? Microsoft says you might have issues keeping your PC updated if your system isn’t online long enough. The latest guidance says PCs need at least eight hours to reliably install system updates through Windows Update. 

This revelation comes by way of David Guyer, program manager for Windows Updates, who just published a notice on the Windows IT Pro Blog detailing Microsoft’s efforts to understand why some devices fall behind on updates. The key appears to be a metric called Update Connectivity, which measures the time in hours that a device is online and connected to Microsoft services. 

If you’re the type to do your updates manually, or if you have a managed environment where someone else is doing all the leg work, you don’t need to worry about this metric. You can always start an update and let it install in the foreground. However, the best way to keep Windows devices updated is to push updates in the background, which has been Microsoft’s preference lately — Windows 10 and 11 make it much harder to block or delay updates than past versions. 

Microsoft’s Intune remote management tool can show which devices have failed updates from insufficient Update Connectivity.

Microsoft has found that devices with less than eight hours of Update Connectivity have a much higher chance of falling behind on updates. Specifically, Windows machines need two hours to download and another six to install in the background. Telemetry from Windows installs across the world show that about half of computers that are on an older, non-supported version of Windows 10 don’t meet the Update Connectivity minimum of eight hours. Meanwhile, a quarter of computers that are more than 60 days behind on security patches also have low Update Connectivity numbers. 

For those in a managed environment, you can use Microsoft Intune to check if your devices aren’t staying connected long enough. The tools are under Devices > Monitor > Feature update failures or Windows Expedited update failures. There, systems that failed to update in time will show as having “Insufficient Update Connectivity.” Microsoft has worked to shrink updates on Windows 11, so perhaps the Update Connectivity requirement will come down in the future.

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