Question from Leonard G.: Rick, I have a question about one of my biggest pet peeves. After all these years, why does a computer still have to be restarted after many Windows updates are installed, but other updates install just fine without requiring a restart?
You’d think by now that Microsoft would have figured out a safe and dependable way to install ALL Windows updates in the background with us never even having to know they were installed. I hate having to stop what I’m doing on my computer just so Windows can shut down and “finish” installing an update!
Rick’s answer: I feel your pain Leonard, and I agree with you. It’s a mystery to me also why Microsoft hasn’t figured out how to make virtually all Windows updates more or less transparent to the user.
To answer your question, there are some technical reasons why system restarts are necessary in order to finish installing some updates.
For example, if an update must alter a file that constantly resides in memory and has to be running in order for Windows to operate correctly, that file cannot be altered on the fly. Windows must shut down first so the file can be updated either during the shutdown process or the startup process (and in some cases both).
There are several other situations where Windows must shut down as part of the update process as well. In general, if an update alters a file that isn’t currently in use, that update won’t require a restart. Also, if an update changes a file that isn’t really “mission critical”, the actual update itself can wait until the next time Windows is shut down and restarted as usual.
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