Windows is constantly evolving, with updates coming at a rapid pace. So get into the habit of monitoring them so you don’t miss out on an important patch or a major version of Microsoft’s system.
- Identify updates
- Check for and install updates
- Schedule updates
- Check for installed updates
- Uninstalling updates
Keeping your operating system up to date is a great way to make your computer last and to keep it safe from viruses and other malware. It is also an opportunity to fix some bugs and malfunctions. But also, and especially, to take advantage of new functions, when the system evolves. The only problem is to follow this almost permanent evolution, and sometimes very discreet, especially in the Windows universe where "maintenance" updates are mixed with "major" updates…
How to identify Windows 10 updates?
Of course, it is easy to know which version of the system is installed on a computer (see our practical sheet Identifying the version of Windows 10 used on a PC to learn more). It is still necessary to decipher the often cryptic names of Microsoft and to know if important updates are available.
Thus, at the time of writing – early May 2021 – the most up-to-date version of Windows 10 Home is 20H2 19042.964 accompanied by the Experience Pack 120.2212.2020.0. 20H2 stands for the year 2020, the second half of the year (Half or moitié in French). It will soon be followed by an important update of the system, logically named 21H1, already available for members of the Microsoft Insider program, which allows to try the beta versions of the evolutions of the system before its deployment throughout the world.
In the meantime, and between all major versions of Windows 10, Microsoft continues to release many maintenance updates. Here are new virus definitions to improve the database of the Microsoft Security Suite (eg Windows Defender), there are cumulative updates for various components of the system or for hardware components of the PC. These are the famous KBxxxxxxx updates (where KB stands for Knowledge Base). In addition, there are sometimes driver updates for various internal or external devices and other components of your PC.
However, even though Windows Update – Microsoft’s Update Center – automatically monitors the availability of any changes, it is not uncommon for it to miss some releases. It is therefore better to check regularly for available updates yourself. You can then choose whether or not to apply them or to suspend the automatic check for a certain period of time. You can also install optional updates (for drivers or software components) and, of course, go back and uninstall updates that have caused system malfunctions.
How to check and install Windows 10 updates?
Depending on their age and the components they carry, not all PCs are in the same position to benefit from Windows updates. So don’t be surprised if you don’t find the same version on your computer as on your neighbor’s. Make sure you have an Internet connection before starting the check.
- Press Win + I on the keyboard to access Windows Settings. In the window that appears, click on Update and Security.
- Windows Update will appear. Click the Check for Updates button. The check starts.
- There are several possible cases. Windows may detect the availability of an update for virus definitions or software components. In this case, the download of the necessary items will start automatically. It will be followed by their installation. Windows may also detect optional updates. In this case, click on the link Show all optional updates to find out what they are.
- Windows Update then presents the items to be updated. In our example, it is on the one hand the Cumulative Update Preview for Windows 10 20H2 (a package including bug fixes and new software items), and on the other hand, a driver update for a component (Samsung in this case). Check the boxes of the items you want to update and then click on Download and Install.
- The download starts followed by the installation.
- Depending on the items downloaded, a restart of the PC may be necessary.
- It may happen that the installation fails due to a download problem or a crash during the update. In this case, please refer to our practical sheet Fixing Windows update failures.
How to schedule Windows 10 updates?
Even though they’re less peremptory than they used to be, Windows updates can come at inappropriate times: when you’re on the go with a weak Internet connection, when you need to finish an urgent job, etc. Here’s how to regain control.
- Windows Update allows you to temporarily suspend system updates. From the Windows Update window, click the Suspend Updates for 7 days button.
- Windows takes note of your choice and indicates the date when automatic updates will resume. You can also click the Resume Updates button to restart the automatic check when conditions are right.
- If seven days is not enough for you, you can set a specific date. In the Windows Update panel of Windows 10 Settings, click Advanced Options. On the page that appears, in the Stop updates section, click on the Select date drop-down menu.
- Then choose the date that suits you and close the window
- You can also set a time slot during which Windows will not be able to perform updates – for example, outside the hours when you use your PC – and request to restart your computer. To do this, click Change activity times from the Windows Update panel.
- Click the Edit link in the window that appears to set the times.
- Using the drop-down menus, indicate the time range during which you use your PC and validate with Save.
How can I check for installed Windows 10 updates?
Windows keeps track of all the updates that have been installed on your machine. Those concerning the system, virus definitions and drivers.
- From the Windows Update panel in Windows Settings, click View Update History.
- The page that appears shows all the items that have been downloaded and installed through Windows Update. They are divided into four categories:
Quality updates: these are cumulative system updates that include the addition of new features and bug fixes.
Driver updates: here are listed the updates of hardware components (processor, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi module, etc.) but also of peripherals that you would have installed like a printer for example.
Definition updates: here are listed all the updates for the Microsoft Security antivirus database.
Other updates: this is where the Windows update previews or update pre-releases are listed (these are optional updates offered by Windows).
- You can click on the names of the updates to see the details on the Microsoft website.
How to uninstall updates from Windows 10?
You have installed an update proposed by Windows Update on your PC. Unfortunately, the result is not what you expected and your computer crashes or does not react as it should. You can uninstall the update that causes problems.
- From the Windows Update panel in Windows Settings, click on View Update History.
- At the top of the page, click the Uninstall Updates link.
- A new window appears. It shows a list of updates sorted by installation date. Please note that not all updates are listed. Right-click on the latest update. Activate the Uninstall option.
- Confirm your choice by clicking Yes in the dialog box that appears.
- Restart your PC and check that everything is back in order. If it is not the case, repeat this operation and proceed in the same way with the previous update. Be careful not to remove updates that are too old. Try to remember the date when your PC had problems. If they are recent, the last system update may be the cause. It’s unlikely that previous updates are the cause.