Updating Windows 7

I have been improving my Windows 7 knowledge and skills. I noticed updates take a horribly long time in Windows 7. Second, offline updates are not directly supported in the Windows ecosystem thereby requiring the use of third party tools.

I have been practicing reinstalling Windows 7 from a Recovery partition. While the Windows installer is based upon certain presumptions about pre-existing known partitions, the process is straightforward and Linux distro maintainers could learn a thing or two about simplicity.

I have sat through hours and hours of waiting for updates. I have no idea for the cause of the inaction. I hope eventually to run wireshark to monitor the process, but my skills with that tool leave much to be desired.

One trick I discovered that seems to help me after a fresh reinstallation is to delete the contents of the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution folder. This seems to act as a kick in the head to force updates. While this trick seems to have helped me in my use case, the entire update process still takes hours. This seems to be a common complaint around the web.

I noticed that updates follow some kind of pecking order. After resintalling I manually run the update process. I need to perform several passes. Each pass brings additional updates although the amount gets smaller. Eventually the tool informs me I am fully updated.

An interesting side effect of these repeated lessons is that I no longer trust the Microsoft people. Not as far as I can spit into a strong head wind or that my trust was large to begin with. The KB articles often are void of any useful or meaningful information. Whereas I can understand the lack of descriptions for security updates to keep malicious users in the dark, I do not see any such purpose for all other updates.

The MS folks have proven to be untrustworthy, especially with how they are tricking people into updating to Windows 10. There are a few ways I have been avoiding any Windows 10 infection and backported telemetry patches.

One way is to install GWX Control Panel. Simple app. Simple results.

Another method is to configure Windows Update to notify only: Check for updates but let me decide whether to download and install them. I configure this option immediately after reinstalling and before the system is connected to the web. I disable “Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates.” With these options I review all updates. I am installing only patches that are obvious security or driver related. All other updates I manually hide.

Another helpful tool is the BlockWindows.bat script. The same person offers a DisableGWX.reg registry file to discourage Windows 10 updates. The GWX Control Panel accomplishes the same thing. I prefer running DisableGWX.reg and BlockWindows.bat with GWX control Panel as a secondary confirmation tool.

Thus far I am avoiding any Windows 10 infections or backported patches.

My last effort in this nonsense is updating offline. Each reinstallation requires a few hundred MBs of updates. As I am using an ISP with low data caps, I need to be watchful of this. As offline updates are not directly supported by the Microsoft folks, one third party tool I am testing is called WSUS Offline Update. The project is hosted in Germany. The web site is in German and English. The program is licensed under the GNU GPL. The program seems straightforward. The tool could be configured for several different support scenarios. As the program files come in a simple zip container, all that is needed is renaming each instance to support each scenario. The tool supports external devices or creating an ISO.

In my first attempt at using the offline updater in Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, I downloaded 3.2 GB of packages. Seems the tool does not query the host system for whether the same files are already installed. Perhaps this is not possible.

The tool uses wget and known URL addresses to pull the packages. There also are some bash shell scripts to fetch the same packages through Linux.

As the tool installs all updates, avoiding the Windows 10 infection and backported telemetry patches requires adding a custom exclusion file. I created that information from BlockWindows.bat using a command line one-liner.

Thus far my testing is skewered. Although the app performed a bunch of updates in a VM, I still had to download an additional couple of hundred MBs of updates.

Updating in Windows is a horrible experience.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: General, Windows

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