My Windows computer periodically needs to install updates for my Windows 10 operating system. I never know what the updates do, but I generally suppose that they’re actually all spyware updates for use by the NSA, CIA, FBI, MI6, GCHQ, and GRU, to name but a few intelligence agencies who might want to see what I’m up to, and maybe even stop me getting up to it.
And last night my computer was pushing to do a new update, so eventually at about 8 pm I gave in, and let it start doing the update.
The updates can sometimes take a long time. Several hours. And the new update was clearly one of the long ones, because when I finally went to bed around midnight, leaving the computer on, it had a spinning Busy symbol in the middle of the screen, and the words:
Working on updates 0%
Which I took to mean that it was trying to install updates, but had got nowhere after 4 hours.
And when I got up this morning at 8 am, the computer was still showing the spinning Busy symbol, and the words:
Working on updates 0%
So it had got nowhere with the updates after 12 hours. And it wasn’t likely to get anywhere in the next 12 hours either. There was nothing for it but to turn off the computer. Which you’re not supposed to do, because it also says on the screen:
Do not turn off your computer
So I turned off the computer.
And I didn’t immediately turn it back on again, because I thought that it probably wouldn’t work. After all it had probably spent the last 12 hours stuffing updates into every nook and cranny of the computer.
Of course it wasn’t going to work.
I needed mugs of tea and multiple cigarettes to ready myself for the experience of it not working.
The best I thought I could expect was that it would come up asking me if I wanted to use Safe Mode, which is a sort of minimal version of Windows.
Eventually I decided to bite the bullet and turn it back on.
The hardware manufacturer’s logo came up on screen like it usually does, and then instead of the Windows 10 start screen appearing, there was a brief flash of a window in the top left, before the screen went black, and stayed black.
That’s it, I thought. That’s probably the most I’ll ever get out of this computer again. It’s been killed by an update.
But then to my surprise, the little spinning Busy symbol re-appeared in the middle of the screen, along with the words
Undoing changes made to your computer
I wondered how long it was going to take to undo all the changes that had been made over the last 12 hours. It seemed very likely that it could take another 12 hours to undo them all.
But to my surprise, after a minute or two, the Windows 10 start screen appeared, this time a nice photo of a Venetian canal.
It was all working again!
It felt like seeing a self-driving car come off the road somewhere, and then 12 hours later reverse along its tracks back up onto the road, and carry on from where it came off.
It’s the first time I’ve ever turned off a Windows computer while it was installing updates. It’s worth knowing what’s quite likely to happen, at least with Windows 10: it’ll automatically undo changes and go back to its previous version.
I’m not a great fan of Windows, but I was quite impressed with it this morning, how it recovered from getting its knickers in a twist.
Maybe there’s hope for us after all.
Should’ve added this: