Windows 10 Updates

Windows 10 offers a number of new features with the most virus-like features being that Windows 10 updates itself not only from Microsoft, but also from other computers that it can see on the network. Plus it offers to serve other computers with Windows 10 Updates.

That’s right – Peer to Peer Patching. This feature is enabled by default.

You’ll notice that I used the term “virus-like” when describing this feature. Some viruses after infecting a computer will then broadcast over the network and attempt to find another machine to install itself onto. Supposedly the first conceptual computer virus was written to distribute a patch for Unix systems. There is a level of irony that Windows 10 Updates will do the same.

Security Implications

For the moment, let’s pretend we left the setting to allow receiving updates from other computers on the internet. Imagine if a computer has been infected with a virus that is written to take advantage of the peer to peer patching. Your computer broadcasts that it is looking for Windows 10 Updates and this infected computer responds that it has an update. Your computer accepts, receives and installs the update. Now you are infected.

Resource Implications

Ignoring virus spread, let’s consider what peer to peer patching means to your computer resources. If your computer is serving Windows 10 Updates to other computers, then a portion of memory and CPU resources are always committed to this purpose; memory and CPU not available for your own use.

Hand in hand is that your network resources are being consumed as well. For communicating with your local computers, this will likely not make much of a difference, but if your computer is serving computers on the internet then your internet connection will be consumed as well. Not all of us have T1 or OC3 circuits in our homes; I certainly do not.

Disable Windows 10 Updates

There are a number of people, including myself, that do not like the premise of this feature and would like to turn off this peer to peer method of Windows 10 updates.

Within Windows Settings, you will see “Update & Security” – let’s start there. This will allow you to manage Updates, Defender, Backup and Recovery, as well as Windows Activation; Developer options can be found in this section also.

Windows Update

The Windows Update tab is the default tab in Update & Security. It simply has two options, “Check for Updates” and “Advanced options”. Clicking “Check for Updates’ will do just that … check for Windows 10 Updates.

Advanced options

Peer to Peer Patching - Turn it Off
Change to local network only and then turn Off

Clicking “Advanced options” will open the section for setting your preferences on Windows 10 Updates, including notification and scheduling preferences. You can also find links to view your update history and configure update delivery.

Choose how updates are delivered

After clicking “Choose how updates are delivered” you’ll be in the area to enable or disable Peer to Peer Patching.

Use the toggle switch to turn the feature off (or on). When the feature is enabled, you can select whether to receive and send updates to only computers on your network or to/from computers on the internet.

I recommend changing the setting to “PCs on my local network” and then turn Off the feature.

Why change the setting for PCs if you are going to turn off the feature? Well, Microsoft has a tendency to send an update to change your default settings when you aren’t looking, particularly when it comes to Service Packs.

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