Microsoft

Poll Results: How often does the Windows patch process hose your systems?

See how your peers answered this question: How often does the Windows patch process hose your systems?

On June 11, 2010, I asked the readers of the TechRepublic Microsoft Windows Blog this poll question:

How often does the Windows patch process hose your systems?

Looking at the results, I guess we can take a certain measure of reassurance in that 73% of the respondents very seldom or never see Microsoft Patch Tuesdays that hose their systems. However, that is probably little consolation to the other remaining 27% who experience problems on a fairly regularly basis.

One way to avoid problems is to be prepared for the patches as they are released. TechRepublic Contributor Justin James analyses all the Microsoft patches each month in a recurring series we call Microsoft Patch Tuesdays. Subscribe to the TechRepublic Microsoft Windows Blog or the Windows Desktop Newsletter and/or follow me on Twitter (markwkaelin@twitter) and you'll be notified when we publish the blog post describing the patches each month.

By the way, tomorrow is another Microsoft patch day -- are you ready for it?

Stay on top of the latest Microsoft Windows tips and tricks with TechRepublic's Windows Desktop newsletter, delivered every Monday and Thursday. Automatically sign up today!

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

16 comments
jmonson
jmonson

I have only had two bad KBs in 10 years.

jmonson
jmonson

I've only had two bad KBs in 10 years.

Doug Vitale
Doug Vitale

On an end user's PC I once installed a mouse driver for an old USB mouse that rendered the PC unbootable. I had found the driver on WindowsUpdate.com, so you can imagine my surprise that the Q&A on the driver had been faulty. I booted into safe mode, rolled back the driver, and then the PC was able to boot normally. That was the last time I used Microsoft Update for drivers; I only download them from the manufacturers' websites now.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Just to be sure everyone is clear on this: windowsupdate.com is a third-party vendor of drivers and alike. I have found them to be less than reliable in the past. However, this poll was concerning the Windows Update process of patching the operating system the 2nd Tuesday of each month. Those updates are from Microsoft and often contain important security patches that should not be ignored.

Doug Vitale
Doug Vitale

"Just to be sure everyone is clear on this: windowsupdate.com is a third-party vendor of drivers and alike. I have found them to be less than reliable in the past." The URL www.windowsupdate.com forwards to http://www.update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate/v6/default.aspx, which is indeed a Microsoft-owned web service. The drivers available there are supposedly tested and blessed before release. However, as I mentioned earlier I have had better luck over the years with the hardware drivers that I found on the manufacturers' websites as opposed to on Microsoft's WindowsUpdate.com.

pgit
pgit

Some devices, notably printers these days, can be set up by plugging it in and running windows update. Don't know if this is intended procedure but it has worked for me a few times.

pgit
pgit

Just from memory I'd say I have a problem with a machine after a windows update on maybe 5-7 machines in the course of a year. I learned the hard way a while back to run the cleaners (love MBAM for eg) before updating, and in some places I run a system restore point prior, also. The most recent is a machine the user gunked up because she turned off noscript, as it was "getting in my way" when she was playing with facebook. (which is authorized activity at this office btw, against my recommendation) Even after cleaning it up, a subsequent MS patch rendered it incapable of doing any more updates somehow. Slated for a re-imaging. It is clean and functional atm, just can't be updated... But for the most part the issue is with some proprietary (and often very old and itself never updated) application that can't run after an MS update. With one exception I (eventually) get the app working, rather than revert the machines to an unpatched state. That one exception is facing a dilemma at the moment with the end of life of XP SP2... that's another story. :\

MarkB29681
MarkB29681

I agree with the statement above that, for us at least, it's "often very old" applications that don't like the MS updates. We have no Apple and no Linux at all -- 100% Windows -- yet we still have regular problems. I think it's because we are forced to support apps that are in some cases 10 years old. This is real-world, not Microsoft world... customers do not always buy the latest & greatest (and don't bother saying that everyone just needs to keep all of their software up-to-date; we have 1,000's of installed sites and that just isn't going to happen).

pgit
pgit

A few of the old apps I have to support have been updated, but the clients refuse to obtain newer version, for 2 main reasons; cost and they don't want to have to learn anything new. As a result of this I recently had to locate an old machine (a Pentium II) with 2 parallel ports so we could install win95 to run the app. I tried win98 and the app wouldn't run well enough for the client's satisfaction. I tried running 95 in a VM on an XP box and both printers wouldn't work. It was one or the other, could have used a switch but client didn't like the smaller appearance of the interface in the VM window anyway. I looked and was pleasantly surprised to find the app had long been updated to run on XP, problem solved I thought. But the client was already aware of this, and said she'd tried it but it was "different" and couldn't be bothered to learn how to use new features and a rearranged interface. Mostly it's money, though. Why spend a dime when what you have is paid for and making money for you? Some of these people are setting themselves up for disaster, eg the old DOS app that needs win95 (or win 3.11) can't easily be backed up, so it never has been, until I came on the scene and made a clone of the disk first thing...

IT_Juggler
IT_Juggler

I wonder how many of the respondents that claim their systems are hosed monthly are actually Linux or Apple fanbois. Not that I suspect anyone of lying (I'd be shocked--SHOCKED!) but they probably don't even turn on a Windows computer monthly.

jjcanaday
jjcanaday

I think your response is a little inflammatory but, I agree with you in principle. If someone is having MONTHLY problems with Windows Updates, I would have to suggest that they either have some very unusual applications installed or, they have continually malware-infected machines.

Ksuvi Khor
Ksuvi Khor

I would not be so quick to assume that the results of this poll were swayed significantly by biased or dishonest voting. As the quantity and variety of servers and workstations you service increases, so does the probability that installing or changing anything system-wide (such as Windows updates and patches) may cause problems on a few of those machines. This in and of itself may be due to any number of things (including malware infections), but I would not assume that most organizations who experience frequent problems with Windows updates are all infected with malware. More likely it is due to the variety of software which is deployed on the various systems they support. Also, please note that all polls have a statistical variance based on many factors (such as the number of respondents), and this variance ALWAYS swings both directions. This variance takes in to account the possibility of incorrect responses, both intentional and unintentional. I would be curious what the variance is on this particular poll - I would assume that it is fairly large based solely on the small number of recipients (less than 900).

gavin142
gavin142

but unfortunately, it was a doozy, required bare metal restoration of host. But I do also lean towards a malware explanation as being the primary cause since 1 day later, one of my a/v scans detected a pretty nasty bug in the system.

Dasec
Dasec

If you had asked the question 5 years ago I would have said maybe 10% of patches had some quirk or another and I would not allow them to be deployed until I had installled them all and ensured that my workstation was stable. I can't remember the last time I had a proble with a patch.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

When was the last time a scheduled Microsoft patch caused you a major headache? How much time each month to you plan to spend on Microsoft patches?

dschlabach
dschlabach

Use WSUS, deploy to a representive group of about 30-40 computer, watch for 3-4 days for problems, then deploy to the remaining 600 machines... Recent problems: deploying IE7 to machines that have a legacy need for IE6, but that is not a windows problem..

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