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How to reduce Windows Update impact for higher system performance

One of the most dreaded feature in Windows 10 & 11 is auto-update. Its well known to be causes of system lag & crash. In this post I'll show you how to install Windows Update manually and some helpful tips to prevent them from eating your system resources randomly.

Introduction

Each month, Microsoft release cumulative update to Windows. This package contains security & bug fixes, so it’s recommended to download them. By design, the services (also known as WSUS) will run automatically each day to check for a new updates. The result of this mechanism is great on PC with SSD and high speed internet connection.

From user-experience POV, it's also a good concept. You don’t need to open settings just to update and interrupting your activities. Well, it’s not perfect too. Most of the time if you’re using HDD, you’ll see 100% disk usage on task manager, so it makes your whole system lagging. Also it is a bad news if you use mobile network/broadband, update will consumes it freely 1GB+.

That sounds bad right? Well how about this: if your system constantly check for update + defragment combination a lot, it will cause your SSD to wear-out much faster (HDD affected too).

What are the possible solution?

Setting active hours

In Windows Update settings you can set active hours to prevent system from installing update at selected times. It's useful especially in workspaces where the pc is always-on. It will not annoy you in the process, because --well you didn't use the pc when Windows update itself.

However, this solution is not perfect. Sometimes when you need to use the PC outside of active hours & Windows is updating, you can't cancel it easily. And, if you shut down the PC, all the progress on the update process will probably lose.

Installing Windows Update offline

Why you (may) want to do this

We live in a modern era, but that does not mean everything needs to be connected & always-online. There are several reasons why you may want to update Windows offline.

First, it does not need to divide resources equally between foreground (program you’re using) and background services. With installing offline, the update will become a foreground thing (the system focus) so it will run at max performance.

Second, it reduce the chance of downloading “other random updates”, so your bandwidth isn’t consumed by big update.

Third, In case you have limited internet connection, you can download the update while you’re on public WiFi, then bring it to your laptops to be installed. You can also share the update with your friends computer (assuming they have the same major version as yours).

Fourth, it’s the old but golden method to install updates. Back then updates are distributed as CD/DVD disc, so you could install them anywhere anytime.

How to do this?

The hardest thing to do in installing updates offline is to know about KB number for specific updates. Fortunately, moderator in Windows subreddit is known to upload accurate info and specific link to cumulative updates over the years. Usually it is on the pinned post section.

cumulative update list by u/jenmsft on windows subreddit

In picture I showed above, there are KB followed by random number, and some other says “EOS”. EOS means End of service, so you should upgrade Windows asap. KB means “Knowledge Base”. Let’s says I have Windows 10 21H1, so I press the ‘KB5014699’ link. It leads to:

KB page with update title

Don’t worry about technical slang that you don’t understand, it’s fine. But, it is still advise to read the IMPORTANT section, and try to understand it. To download the updates, scroll down till “Install this updates” section.

update method explained

Usually we got update using Windows Update services (first item). Now, we choose the highlighted ‘Microsoft Update Catalog’ link, this will take us to:

Microsoft update catalog showing specific KB downloads

Now this is the most confusing part. Focus yourself on the first 2 row in ‘Title’ column. It may look similar, one is x86 and another is x64. Most computer today have 64-bit version, so choose that (the highlighted entry in image above). Also, look at the version and match it to the one you currently have. Confused? Match the version & architecture to the one in Settings > System > About Windows.

download link to the update

After pressing download button on the left side, your browser will open a new mini-window confirming the file name. Press the blue hyperlink to download. And, after the download process is done, you can install it now, later, or share it to your friend.

Installation process is pretty straightforward. Open the .msu file and let the automated process running to confirmed if the update was ever installed or not on your PC. Then a confirmation dialog will appear, just press "Install" and wait for 1-2 hours for the update to be installed (depending on your HDD/SSD).

Disable update

Another way to prevent update from annoying you in the middle of the day is to simply turn it off. To do that, open Services program, and look for wuauserv service. Right click on it, and press 'Properties'.

services windows showing wuauserv being selected

In the dialog, select startup type, and change it to Disabled. Then press OK and restart your computer.

showing wuauserv dialog

And that's conclude today post. I hope this method will help you fixing Windows Update 'monopoly' over your system.

#windows #tutorial

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