I don’t know whether to cheer or cry. In a recent (March 11) Windows Support article, the title tells an interesting story “Why were recently installed updates removed?” Before I turn to either profanity or panic, here’s a big quote from this piece to explain my mixed feelings:
Windows automatically installs updates to keep your device secure and running at peak efficiency. Occasionally, these updates can fail due to incompatibility or issues in new software. Your device has recently recovered from a startup failure if you have received this notification: “We removed some recently installed updates to recover your device from a startup failure.” If Windows detects this, it will try to resolve the failure by uninstalling recently installed updates. This is only done when all other automatic recovery attempts have been unsuccessful.
To ensure that your device can start up and continue running as expected, Windows will also prevent problematic updates from installing automatically for the next 30 days. This will give Microsoft and our partners the opportunity to investigate the failure and fix any issues. After 30 days, Windows will again try to install the updates.
Possible Pitfalls and Perils, Anyone?
The inevitable question about this strategy has to be: “What could possibly go wrong?” But then I started thinking about all the times I’ve had Insider Preview installs fail somewhere after start but before a successful finish. I’ve personally experienced this perhaps a hundred or more times, and only in less than a handful of such cases, has the automatic rollback function failed to restore a working Windows 10 installation. Maybe there is something of potential value here after all. It certainly will be interesting to wait, watch and learn from the millions of Windows users how well this undo technique works in the field when errors prevent a successful update, or post-update compatibility issues rear their ugly heads.
I’ve always been in the habit of backing up my PCs before upgrading them. I already also back up my production PCs daily, too. Now, I’m starting to think that it may just be a new best practice to back up a Windows 10 PC before turning Windows Update loose. That way, you can always get back to where you were, if a failure occurs and the recovery process doesn’t result in a working PC. No sense suffering if the cure turns out as bad or worse than the disease. Better safe than sorry!
Kari also observes that “updates are not removed or uninstalled without a reason. It comes down to whether or not you trust the OS. If you believe Windows knows what’s best for it, you let it update when necessary, and also, to delete failed updates when necessary.” I agree, but I still think it’s a good idea to protect oneself from the possibility of ending up with neither the old system restored nor the new system successfully updated. Hence my backup suggestion in the preceding paragraph.
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.