This morning I was greeted with Vista’s “restart” prompt:
I was busy, so I dropped the menu down, clicked on 4 hours and went back to work. I had all sorts of things going on: A dual-monitor setup with Vista on the laptop’s monitor, XP on the external monitor (in a virtual machine), Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Access were running and busy in the virtual machine, WIndows Mail was working away in Vista, and so on. You get the picture.
Then, at 1215, my boss and I decided we’d take our usual lunchtime walk. I returned from the walk one 50 minutes later to see a login prompt. I realise that the security folks amongst my readership wouldn’t see anything wrong with this picture, however for me, as somebody who rarely needs to lock his laptop, seeing this prompt meant one thing: a reboot had occured. Doh! What sort of state was my virtual machine going to be in? Heck, I was in the middle of a document in the virtual machine, would Microsoft Word recover from that? Thankfully everything came back to life as I expected it to, Virtual PC recognised that I had undo changes left and offered me the chance to save them. However things might not have been so good had there been any long-running processes running on either Vista or in the XP virtual machine.
Phew! But there’s a lesson to be had from this incident: good as automatic updates can be, be careful if you need to avoid the automatic update, postponing it might not be the answer. Now, please note the use of “can” in the previous sentence. There are times when automatic updates can be a real pain and can cause you problems (refer to this, this (old) and this).
So, if you do need to postpone the automatic reboot until you choose to restart the machine, here’s what you can do:
1. Open up a Command Prompt (as Administrator)
2. Enter: net stop “Windows Update” – then press Enter.
The Windows Update service that you just stopped will come back to life when you next reboot, so you’re not breaking anything by doing this.