Hi Fred, Here’s an issue that has caused me much puzzlement over the years. Do you know of a way to monitor Automatic Updates while it’s doing its business? I’ve been unable to find anything via Google or the ms knowledge base. I’m running Windows 2000 SP4 with Automatic Updates set to "Notify me but don’t automatically download or install them." Since I’m on a dial-up connection that can, at times, be unreliable, I like having the option to review and select the updates for downloading at optimum times (i.e., when the connection is good and I plan to be online a while). But once I give it permission, Automatic Updates goes into "stealth" mode, and the systray icon disappears. Other than a bit of subtle hard drive noise suggesting that a download MIGHT be in progress, I have no idea what’s going on, and whether it’s safe to disconnect, etc. No information at all is presented until the "New updates are ready to install on your computer" box pops up, but this sometimes takes days! Odd behavior for a service dealing in critical security updates, don’t you think? Even a basic status bar would be helpful. Any suggestions for snooping on this process, perhaps a third-party utility? Thanks, Terry
I have a similar issue, Terry, as do many readers who have to deal with intermittent or slow/expensive connections. For example, my laptop isn’t always online; and sometimes when it is (as on old, slow, expensive hotel connections in non-wifi/non-broadband rooms) I don’t want to burn up bandwidth, time and money downloading updates.
For me, the simple solution is to turn off Automatic Updates on the laptop, and to remember to get them manually on a regular basis.
When you go to Windows Update manually and trigger a "custom" scan, you’ll be shown everything that applies to your PC; you can choose which updates you want; and then, when you trigger the actual update process, you will indeed see a download progress indicator, and then an installation progress indicator. It takes all the mystery out of what’s happening— a good thing.
As long as you remember to check the Update site on a frequent, regular basis, so you don’t miss any Critical Updates, this all-manual approach works fine and has the added benefit of putting you in control of the update process.