| It seemed that for weeks Windows would announce, almost every day, that there were updates available and my computer had to be restarted to complete the installation.

Besides that, for the first few hours of each day the disk activity light would be on constantly, my antivirus program would indicate that something big was being downloaded, and everything that I wanted to do took place at a snail's pace. I mean, we're talking simple things like displaying the start menu or opening the file explorer.

All of which raised that age-old question, What the &^%# is it doing?

By yesterday I'd had enough. I went into Settings to see what all these updates were. Imagine my surprise upon discovering that the latest update had been installed in April!

Installed updates
Say what? The last successful update was on April 14!

WTF? Fine. I would restart again. Nothing changed: the same 3 updates were still awaiting a restart.

A quick Google revealed that the Windows Update program itself can become corrupted and must be repaired. Microsoft in their infinite wisdom provide a tool to fix just such problems, [nameoftool]

Alrighty! Download and run. It is a self-extracting file that installs itself somewhere and then begins its magic, only to stop and tell you that it needs to run in Administrator mode. Agreeing to that starts the process all over again.

Such foolishness would be a small price to pay if the tool actually worked. But five times I ran it, and five times it ended by telling me that Windows Update was broken but it couldn't fix it. Doh!

More research. Several articles explain how to fix Windows Update if the troubleshooter doesn't work.

At this point I realized that my failed attempts to fix the problem had undoubtedly spawned several others.

Never mind. I do a backup of my hard drive every night, and I knew I would just restore everything from a full-backup image a couple of days ago.

But before that, how about just trying to roll back to an earlier Windows Restore Point using Windows Recovery? The tan screen of death told me to be patient, it was working on it. After an hour or so Windows announced that it was sorry to inform me that it was unable to complete the restore and therefore nothing was changed.

Meanwhile, I had begun research the price of Apple Macs!

However, to my everlasting surprise, the computer did start to function at least quasi-normally again.

That was yesterday.

This morning, after the daily automatic restart, everything looked normal, except that the red disk activity light was solid again. And the Start menu wouldn't even open!

I shut down and restarted the computer. This time the Start menu opened, but the disk and other resources were going crazy again!

Resource summary
Summary
Disk
Disk activity near maximum
Ethernet
Sporadic internet activity at s-l-o-w rates

Oh, crap! More updates!

Consulting Windows Update again, I discovered two updates in waiting

today's updates
Oh joy! Two more updates are waiting to be installed
disk activity light
A solid disk activity light means trouble

It took 3 hours(!!) for that 88% to get to 100%, and all the while that disk activity light was lit up solid!

Eventually, Windows announced that an updated needed a restart. I was most curious what would happen because while the first updated had installed 100% the second was "awaiting installation."

What happened was: The system restarted and then immediately went into its working-on-updates mode.

working on updates
Understatement: "This will take a while"

This "working" went on for an additional 2.5 hours! Eventually I was congratulated on having the latest and greatest Windows 10.

status after updates
This is now version 1803 of Windows 10

When all was said and done, this was the status of Windows updates.

status after updates
Woo-hoo! I think.

Prognosis uncertain, but cautiously optimistic.

Remembering the "good old days" of software updates when one learned about an update, had to find it and download it, then install it yourself (hoping for the best but expecting the worst), I appreciate the transformation for update responsibility from the user to the software provider. That said, I am highly resentful that software always wants to do its updating at the same time that I want to do something else. In the case of Windows 10 you can specify hours when updates are not allowed, but that just means the actual installation of the update. All the checking for updates and downloading updates takes place "in background" which, I don't care what they say, hogs resources unreasonably.

Aside

An interesting side note. While looking into how to speed up Windows Update, I came across the option to download updates not just from Microsoft but from other PCs on the internet.

While that seems inherently risky, it looks like Microsoft has adopted some aspects of peer-to-peer (P2P) networking. This will be familiar to users of BitTorrent that facilitates distribution of files by transferring files from users that have them to users that want them. Similarly, BitTorrent uses pieces of files on your PC to supply requests from other peers.

Last updated on May 18, 2018

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