Can I turn off my computer during windows update?


“I really don’t like Windows updates, can I turn off my computer during Windows update?” asked one of my clients the other day. The answer to that question would be a big NO!

Computer users despise the automatic download and installation of updates, especially when they take place at night, disrupting sleep patterns.

Computer users are used to this scenario: A popup appears on their screen saying that new updates are ready for download and install. They click start > settings > system > update & security > check for updates. The computer downloads all available updates in the background while they continue with what they were doing before. After some time, another popup interrupts them with the message that new software is ready to be installed. The user clicks ok or yes, the installation starts and this takes ages to complete. Worse part of it all – it happens when we most need the computer.

The Downsides

Sometimes a windows update may take a few minutes to a couple of hours before it completes. But what happens if you turn it off? Well it could corrupt the system files and data.

If you are thinking about shutting down your computer during an update, please think twice because there are many reasons why this could be bad for your system. During an update conflict between programs and files may arise which usually leads to corrupt files. The outcome? Most likely a blue screen of death like the infamous DPC Watchog Violation.

Also, if we turned on the power failure while updating may cause data loss as well as damage to some components of your computer. Therefore, do not shut down before the updates are complete.

If you would like to make a new change after an update, please make sure that your computer is up-to-date before making any changes.

Windows 10/11 and 8.1 Updates automatically download and install . If you need to restart during the process do not turn off or disconnect the power and Shut Down only when rebooted cleanly. This saves time but if we want we can shut down manually without damage to the system at all.


What happens during a Windows update on Windows 10/8.1/7

To explain these processes, we must first understand what components make up an operating system like Windows 10; some basic knowledge of computer hardware would be helpful as well but not required to understand the rest of this article.

The components can roughly be divided into two groups: First there are applications like Firefox or Google Chrome, often referred to as “apps” for short, then there are background services without which Windows cannot run but which most people don’t see or interact with directly, often called “background services”.

Both types have a different way of updating.

Apps update through their own update mechanisms which are provided by the operating system itself. Background services updates can be categorized into two groups: Some run from apps and others from the background service framework . It is important to understand that these updates work very differently from each other. We will now discuss both cases separately.

App Updates

Since Windows 8 every app runs in a sandbox meaning that it cannot access files outside its own directory nor can it mess with system files or settings unless explicitly allowed . This means an update for an app needs to provide a full set of new or modified files, there is no real technical difference between that and installing a new app. Indeed, if an update to an installed app fails the system will remove it and try to reinstall it from scratch.

App updates can be either mandatory or optional . Mandatory updates are required for the system to run well, all other apps may not work well with older versions of such critical components unless they too have been updated. This means every single one of your actively used apps needs to be kept up-to-date at all times in order for you to continue using them without issues or interruptions; otherwise some could end up broken until you uninstall and reinstall them.

There is no easy way around this: It is very important that you install these updates as soon as they become available , because if you don’t, you increase the risk that your system will become unstable or even unusable and would need book in for computer repairs.

Windows updates are important because they include security enhancements to help protect your computer from viruses and other malicious programs. They also include product improvements, which may not seem like a big deal now, but could be after your next inconvenience with your computer.

And that is why you should never shut down a computer when it’s updating!

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...