Why, When, and How Automatic Microsoft Updates Occur


In order to maintain functionality, performance, and security of Western-owned Windows computers, the university has a regular schedule of delivering Microsoft updates and patches. Without regular updates we risk the vulnerability of our computers to viruses and other hacking attempts or accidental errors. 


Please note: the timing below has changed for all users whose computers are now managed by SCCM. Since we now have added flexibility in delivering updates, we are delivering them on Wednesday mornings at 4:00 a.m. to minimize disruptions.

Most Microsoft updates come out on Tuesdays and most updates are released in the morning. The second Tuesday of the month is referred to as “Patch Tuesday” because Microsoft attempts to combine the largest updates into this maintenance window. Because of this, most machines reboot Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

The update process can be delayed but not prevented. Even though updates can occasionally be inconvenient to your work schedule, updates are necessary for security and performance and must be performed at some point. We try to set the automated process to cause as little disruption to your work as possible. 


There are four distinct processes in our automatic updates; downloads, installations, notifications, and reboot/delay.


  • Microsoft Updates from our WSUS server will be downloaded to computers* every day if there are updates available, provided:
    • Computers are connected to the network, powered on, and on the WWU domain.
  • If downloads are needed, the actual download process is randomized to computers throughout the day.
  • Computers on the WWU domain actually check for downloads periodically throughout the day.


  • WHEN? If Microsoft Update downloads are complete, installations will begin at 5:00 p.m.
  • HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE? Duration of the installation depends on the number and size of updates, the speed of the machine, and if a reboot is required.


  • If any of the updates require a reboot, the user will be notified at the end of the installation process and the reboot will take place in 5 minutes. If no reboot is required, there is no notification.


  • Users can delay a reboot by selecting the option in the notification.
  • If the user delays the reboot, they will prompted again in 30 minutes.
  • If the user chooses to delay the reboot but keeps his/her computer on, subsequent notifications will occur every 30 minutes.

Some Examples of Updates and Timing of the Update Process

Example of a Computer Left on Over Night

  1. The system completes downloading updates at 10:20 a.m.
  2. The installation begins at 5:00 pm and this one completes at 5:08 p.m.
  3. If a reboot is required, the user is prompted at 5:08 p.m.
    • If the user ignores the prompt, the machine will reboot at 5:13 p.m.
    • If the user chooses to delay at 5:12 p.m., they will be prompted again at 5:42 p.m.
  4. The delay process can continue in 30 minute increments for as long as the user chooses to delay.

Example of a Computer that is Turned off Daily

  1. The system completes downloading updates at 10:20 a.m.
  2. The user issues a shutdown command at 4:58 p.m.
    • The user is presented "Shutdown now" or "Install updates and shutdown".
    • The user chooses to Shutdown immediately for some reason.
  3. The machine is turned on the next day at 7:59 a.m.
  4. Installation now begins when the machine is turned on and in this case installation completes at 8:08 a.m.
    • If a reboot is required, the user is prompted at 8:08 a.m.
    • If the user ignores the prompt, the machine will reboot at 8:13 a.m.
  5. The 5-minute warning/30-minute delays could go on for as long as the user chooses to delay - just like above.