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Windows updates take a long time to properly download and install, says Microsoft

Windows Update
Windows Update (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft's Windows IT Pro Blog has published a post on achieving "better patch compliance."
  • In the post, it's detailed that a Windows update needs a minimum of two connected hours and six hours total to ensure successful downloads and background installations.
  • The post advises that those running machines that need updates keep them plugged in, powered on, and connected, as opposed to, for example, shutting them down overnight.

If you're powering down your Windows laptop or desktop on the way out of the office each day, you may be doing the whole Windows thing wrong. This news comes from a Windows IT Pro Blog post entitled "Achieve better patch compliance with Update Connectivity data."

In the post, Microsoft explores its findings regarding why so many devices are out of date and missing key updates. As it turns out, it's because too many devices aren't online and connected long enough for Windows updates to fully settle.

"Specifically, data shows that devices need a minimum of two continuous connected hours, and six total connected hours after an update is released to reliably update," the blog post reads. "Update Connectivity" refers to the amount of time your device spends linked to Microsoft's services, including Windows Update.

Since a large percentage of devices are not following recommended Update Connectivity guidelines, Microsoft advises organizations to have their employees' devices remain on as long as is necessary to hit said thresholds, which may entail leaving them powered on and connected overnight.

Windows Update Connectivity

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft outlines an example of why one may want to uphold an Update Connectivity standard. "When troubleshooting update issues, we have found it is best to select devices that have sufficient Update Connectivity," the post says. "If a device has insufficient Update Connectivity, then investigating other update issues is complicated because the low Update Connectivity can create new issues that go away once there's enough connectivity."

Microsoft Intune will allow you to see Update Connectivity data if you need a way to monitor devices' statuses.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

13 Comments
  • I find this dubious for personal devices. Never ever needed that much time. However at work updates take forever. Granted we are talking hundreds of devices at once
  • Would be nice if we can get more information about this, I guess this applies to personal devices but we care less about it compared to company computers that IT will manage, which will deal the issues directly. Hard to say if this update connectivity may have some relationships to other users having issues with Windows overtime, especially after dealing with updates. This seems more story to this.
  • This is not about personal devices. They talk about looking at Intune to check on it. Intune is only for managed devices.
  • They talk about inTune as a way to see where devices stand. This is absolutely about personal devices. The system is typically set up to download and install updates when the machine is idle. If you shut it off when you aren't using it, when is it supposed to update?
  • With HDD instead of SSD, it indeed takes hours, and feature updates of Windows 10 rather took counting in days last year.
  • unfortunately Dell, Lenovo, and Acer continue to sell desktops and laptops with HDDs (even on Windows 11) which suck 😳
  • Only six hours?
  • I remember back in the 90's it took me 6 hours to download updates on dial-up modems...
  • "leave your devices on as long as possible, including overnight".... Advice that flies directly in the face of good environmental policy, for a company that's trying to achieve a carbon neutral footprint, telling its customers to waste power
  • I leave my laptop plugged in and "asleep" overnight anyways, but still. In the age of NVME SSDs and multi-core processors (like the octa-core Ryzen I'm rocking on my laptop), it's strange that it would take so long for an update to "settle in" but hey, it speaks to the complexity that is the Windows OS.
  • most devices sold to consumers and businesses still use Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). Only some people who know about SSDs ask for that at purchase.
  • Every laptop that has been purchased In the last 7 Years by the company I work for has come with an SSD.
  • Updates shouldn't take that long. For a 100 MB file on a typical business line it should be a few minutes. Unpack, install, configure, 20-45 minutes for that file. Windows updates take too long, period. When I update other machines it'll take max 1 hour on a typical small update (100 MB example). That includes downloading, installing and unpacking, configuring. Windows is *SLOW* to update anything. Win 11 seems to have sped that up somewhat. But the download always seems slow, even though they're small files.