Frequently asked questions:

Is my computer up to date with critical patches?

For computers that are joined to the CSENETID windows domain (most desktops, almost no laptops), we have configured 'windows automatic update' to point to a local 'windowsupdate' server. This server is essentially a mirror of the official 'windowsupdate' site. A key difference is that all critical updates must be approved by one of the tech staff before they are applied to computers in the domains. The reason we elected to run our own mirror site, is because occasionally a 'BAD PATCH' is released that can go as far to crash a computer. If this happens to a critical server, work would be impeded. We try to get critical updates applied as broadly and as rapidly as we deem appropriate. Generally, we wait 24-72 hours to 'wait and see' if any adverse effects are reported.

Is my computer up to date with non-critical patches?

Non-critical patches are not supported by the automated windows update process, so users will need to install them on a 'as-needed' basis themselves. Non critical patches are usually for programs that people may or may not use. A few of these programs are 'Windows Media Player', 'Microsoft Journal Viewer', and 'Windows Movie Maker'.

When is my computer updated?

If your computer is a member of one of the CSE domains, it will attempt to update itself nightly. Updates will only occur if there are new approved updates on our local mirror site. So if a new patch is released by MS, that doesn't necessarily mean that it will be on your machine the next day. It must be approved by a tech staff person first. Updates will be installed the night following an approval. Automatic Updates *WILL* now try to restart a computer automatically during a scheduled installation. You may 'opt-out' by submitting a support request for a system, then automatic Updates will notify the user to restart the computer to complete the installation. It is recommended that you log off at night if at all possible. If you cannot, please restart your computer ASAP. Upates that need to restart the computer do not protect your computer if you don't restart it!

Will I be notified of automatic updates?

The general answer is no, however there are exceptions. When a critical update is considered 'high risk' you may receive an email from a tech staff person requesting that you immediately install a critical update. It is imperitive that you respond to these 'high risk' requests in a timely fasion. The famous 2003 'RPC-DCOM hack' was a critical update that fell into this category.

What about my laptop OR personal home machine, will it be updated?

When building laptops (loaners or assigned) support staff will set the computer to connect directly to the WindowsUpdate site. Computers configured in this manner will generally attempt to update themselves as soon as they are connected to an internet connection. If you built your laptop yourself, you need to ensure that it is configured to automatically update itself. Intstructions can be found here: MS Windows Update

Should I notify anyone if I hear about a critical update?

We DO encourage everybody to notify lab staff support if they hear about something related to security, but we discourage people from sending out warnings about patches and viruses to the department on their own.