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supercaffeinated

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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Microsoft breaks this cardinal rule time and again with their "auto-update" "feature". Take a perfectly working system, apply a "service pack" to "stay current" and voila, you have an unstable system. Especially with laptops which are generally proprietary hardware that's tested reasonably well for hibernation, suspend/resume with networking, etc. with a specific windows version. Go and change that version, and the manufacturer will tell you you're on your own, despite the fact that the MS operating system nags you to update it constantly....

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Yeah, but SC, you don't use Auto-Update, do you?

Select the updates you want and apply them manually...

...not that you need me to tell you this, of course.

:)

Piyono

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I find Dell switfly produces updated BIOS's and drivers for updated OS's and SP's.

Of course HP on the other hand...... ;)

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My theory is that you need to stay up to date with the updates or you won't have a stable system. Personally I have never had a system become unstable because of applying a SP.

Of course I am a little parnoid so I always make a backup of my hd before applying anything big like a SP. I just usually use Ghost and dump the image off to another partition and hold on to it for a few days. :)

-JR

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you need to stay up to date with the updates or you won't have a stable system

Huh?

Maybe you meant something else, but what you wrote is nonsense.

How does the version that was stable last week know that next week it wil be out of date and that it must now start being unstable so that you can fix it with the update that came out this week?

Supercaf is right: if the task matters enough to care about, never[/i mess with a known working system.

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you need to stay up to date with the updates or you won't have a stable system

Huh?

Maybe you meant something else, but what you wrote is nonsense.

How does the version that was stable last week know that next week it wil be out of date and that it must now start being unstable so that you can fix it with the update that came out this week?

Supercaf is right: if the task matters enough to care about, never[/i mess with a known working system.

No I meant what I said. I probably could have worded it better. Lets try this. Updates are a good thing. You can't go wrong applying a patch. Why on God's green earth would you want to leave a system at a base install without patching the OS? That is just asking for troubles. Remember Code Red? MS released an updated that would have taken care of this problem but a lot of admin's seemed to drag their feet in patching the servers. Some of the guys at work can still find servers on the outside that still havn't applied the patch.

I think MS took a step in the right direction doing the auto update in XP. Do you think the average Joe Blow is going to go to update site to look for new patches? Not a chance. This way if a major flaw is found it will be automattically patched.

Now I am not saying that you need to have your browser go directly to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com but checking the site once a month wouldn't be a bad idea.

How does the version that was stable last week know that next week it wil be out of date and that it must now start being unstable so that you can fix it with the update that came out this week?

I never said this. I am not sure how you extracted this from my first post. I am sure that you can get along just fine with a base install of the OS but again it is pointless to do so.

This is just my opinion. Everyone manages their systems differently. There is no right or wrong way.

-JR

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I was only half serious, Grandchehaw. You are making good sense. But, on the other hand, it's not too difficult to think of new, "improved" updates that were a total disaster. I need only think of Nvidia drivers back in the bad old days for an easy example. Then there was a Smoothwall update withdrawn a while back, there were at least two OS2 fixpacks hurriedly withdrawn because the cure was worse than the disease, numerous ever-more-broken versions of Easy CD Cremator, tales of bad mainboard BIOS updates abound, and so on. And as for Microsoft operating system "upgrades" ... well, two words: "Windows ME".

Of course, as you say (more or less), most updates are indeed better than the old version. My point, though, is that exchanging a known, working system for the unknown perils of the "new and updated" lottery is always a risk, and one that you should be loath to take if there is no actual problem that needs fixing. If the system is working well, then you have nothing to gain and everything to lose. I know I derive a goodly proportion of my income from cleaning up the messes that over-confident fools make of their computers when they try to "upgrade" something that wasn't broken in the first place. I'm not kidding: every single week we get several machines come in with one or another tired variation of the same old story. Right now it's "upgrading" to Win XP, and usually on systems that are manifestly unsuited to it - K6-233s and the like - that is the most common problem.

Format, reinstall something suited to the hardware (usually 98SE), load appropriate drivers, forty-five dollars thanks, next please.

Boring work, but it's easy money so I shouldn't complain about it. But if people had enough sense to leave well enough alone, I'd have to get a real job. There are three main categories of update:

(1) Critical security updates, anti-virus stuff in particular. Always stay up-to-date with these. Better yet, run non-Microsoft operating systems and application software and breathe easy.

(2) Other updates. Don't apply unless you have a genuine problem that you think they might fix. And backup first!

(3) Updates that you don't need but which add something you would kinda like to have. Wait several months until you have got a good, clear idea if the "update" is trouble-free, if it delivers the promised benefit, and if it has any nasty side-effects or not. If you really have to do it right away, do it on a machine that you don't care too much about first.

These are my rules for average users. People capable of making a full system backup and actualy knowing how to restore it if they need to (or who, like me just back up the critical stuff and figure on reinstalling all the rest) are big enough and ugly enough to make their own rules and don't need my nagging. But believe me, people walk in off the street and give us a couple of hundred dollars every week because they are too stupid to know not to try "upgrading" for no good reason - and other people walk in and give us money to clean off their viruses because they are too stupid to upgrade regularly. If I had a dollar for every person that's said to me "but I've got an anti-virus program, I've had it for ages!" I'd be rich.

Come to think of it, I have had those dollars. Trouble is, I've spent the bloody things. :)

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And as for Microsoft operating system "upgrades" ...  well' date=' two words: "Windows ME".[/quote']

Ah so very true.

Right now it's "upgrading" to Win XP, and usually on systems that are manifestly unsuited to it - K6-233s and the like - that is the most common problem.

I though MS setup XP to run a scan on the system to see if the system meets the minimum requirements? Or is this something that the user has to run first?

There are three main categories of update:

(1) Critical security updates, anti-virus stuff in particular. Always stay up-to-date with these. Better yet, run non-Microsoft operating systems and application software and breathe easy.

(2) Other updates. Don't apply unless you have a genuine problem that you think they might fix. And backup first!

(3) Updates that you don't need but which add something you would kinda like to have. Wait several months until you have got a good, clear idea if the "update" is trouble-free, if it delivers the promised benefit, and if it has any nasty side-effects or not. If you really have to do it right away, do it on a machine that you don't care too much about first.

I would agree with this. This is how I look at updates most of the time.

If I had a dollar for every person that's said to me "but I've got an anti-virus program, I've had it for ages!" I'd be rich.

So true. I have heard this so many times. It's amazing how some users can be so blind to think as long as they have the software installed that they are protected from anything under the sun.

At least you get paid per incident. I only get paid by the hour. :)

-JR

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Yeah, but SC, you don't use Auto-Update, do you?

Select the updates you want and apply them manually...

...not that you need me to tell you this, of course.

(this message is also to grandchehaw, but I am too lazy to quote from two messages)

Auto-update or not, the medicine is often worse than the poison. I've installed a service pack manually on an NT 4 server only to have it completely stop talking to the network at all. The service pack, SP3 at the time, was required for some sort of backup software that the company wanted to use (and, in fact, quite a bit of software requires at least NT4SP3). I didn't back anything up (the whole point of the update was to be able to back things up) but fortunately I told it to save the necessary files for uninstall. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Linux isn't invulnerable to this, either. While it is extremely rare with mainstream distributions, Gentoo (my preferred bleeding edge distro) recently had a problem in which, if the system was set to auto-update or was manually updated and was set to use the latest beta versions of installed software, one of the login managers would deny access to the system immediately after the user entered their name (it didn't even ask for the password.) This didn't happen to me, fortunately, but several people complained about this problem in the mailing list.

There are also several documented cases of security fixes (from Microsoft, probably with Linux software too) either not fixing the problem, fixing only a special case of the problem, or introducing new bugs which were never a problem before the patch.

While I update software very frequently (so I'm being a bit of a hypocrite), I have noticed that the people which get a system working and never touch its configuration again tend to have very few problems. I would cite a good specific example, but it involves a relative of mine using Windows ME, so it is too embarrasing. :)

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