Here are answers to some common questions about updating Windows automatically.

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Why update Windows automatically?

Because with automatic updating, you don't have to search for updates online or worry that critical fixes for Windows might be missing from your computer. Windows automatically checks for the latest updates for your computer. Depending on the Windows Update settings you choose, Windows can install updates automatically or just let you know they're available. For more information, see Turn automatic updating on or off.

How do I start updating Windows automatically?

If you haven't already, just turn on automatic updating. For more information, see Turn automatic updating on or off.

How much does it cost to update Windows automatically?

There is no charge to you for the Windows Update service. However, depending on how you are billed for your Internet connection, standard local and long distance phone charges and Internet service charges might apply for the time required to download an update.

How long does it take to download an update?

It depends on the type of Internet connection you have and the size and number of updates your computer needs. However, updates are automatically downloaded behind the scenes when you're online. They do not interfere with other downloads, and if you disconnect they will continue to download in the background the next time you go online.

How does Windows determine which updates my computer needs?

Windows Update contains software tools that detect information about your computer, such as the make and model and the version of Windows and other Microsoft software that your computer is running. Microsoft uses that information to install only the updates your computer needs. For more information, read the Windows Update privacy statement online.

If I choose to update Windows automatically, do I still need to visit the Windows Update website?

No. Windows will automatically install updates for your computer as they become available. Also, for this version of Windows, the website has been replaced by Windows Update in Control Panel. If you want to check for updates manually, follow these steps:

  1. Open Windows Update by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking All Programs, and then clicking Windows Update.

  2. In the left pane, click Check for updates.

Tip

  • To find out how to get updates for Windows and your other Microsoft programs such as Microsoft Office, go to the Microsoft Update website. If you're already using Microsoft Update to get updates for your computer, Windows Update in Control Panel will automatically open and display your update status.

When are updates downloaded?

Updates are downloaded behind the scenes when you're online. They do not interfere with other downloads. If you disconnect from the Internet before an update is fully downloaded, the download process will continue the next time you're online.

When are updates installed?

It depends on the automatic updating option you choose. If you choose the recommended option, updates are installed at 3:00 A.M. or on a schedule that you choose. If you turn off your computer before the scheduled time, you can install updates before shutting down.

If your computer is in one of the power-saving states (Sleep or Hibernate) during a scheduled update, and if your computer is plugged in to a power source, Windows will wake your computer long enough to install new updates. If your computer is running on battery power, however, Windows will not install updates. Windows will try to install them instead at the next scheduled installation time. To schedule when Windows automatically installs updates:

  1. Open Windows Update by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking All Programs, and then clicking Windows Update.

  2. In the left pane, click Change settings, and then make sure that the Install updates automatically (recommended) option is selected.

  3. Choose the frequency and time of day when you want new updates to be installed, and then click OK. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Can I see which updates Windows has automatically installed?

Yes. View the history in Windows Update in Control Panel, or go to Installed Updates:

  • Open Installed Updates by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Programs, and then, under Programs and Features, clicking View installed updates.

Can I choose which updates Windows automatically installs?

Yes. You can choose to install important updates only, or important and recommended updates. Optional updates are not installed automatically. Instead, you can choose to install them by reviewing available updates when you check for updates using Windows Update in Control Panel. For more information, see Turn automatic updating on or off and Change how Windows installs or notifies you about updates.

Will I be notified if there's a problem and important updates have not been installed?

Yes. Windows Update will notify you if security and other important updates cannot be installed. For more information, see Troubleshoot problems with installing updates.