According to Microsoft, your PC needs to be powered on and connected to receive updates. That may seem obvious, but Microsoft has now provided data on exactly how long it needs to be connected, too.
According to a post by Microsoft’s David Guyer on Microsoft’s Windows IT Pro Blog, Windows devices need at least two continuous connected hours and six total connected hours after an update is released to receive it and update the PC.
Microsoft doesn’t have a hard and fast measurement for these numbers; they were the result of Microsoft research investigating what devices would receive updates, and why or why not. The number of connected hours is what Microsoft’s team concluded as a recommendation for PCs to receive timely updates. Microsoft calls this measurement “Update Connectivity,” Guyer said.
Microsoft’s research naturally implies that PCs that are not powered on and connected won’t receive updates. Microsoft found that about half of the devices that are not on a serviced build of Windows 10 do not meet this Update Connectivity requirement. The one-quarter of Windows 10 devices that are on a serviced build of Windows but are more than 60 days delinquent on their security updates, also fell short short of the Update Connectivity requirement.
While Microsoft and Guyer do have a solution to the problem, the post was authored for enterprise IT departments who work with Microsoft Windows PCs. A PC within an enterprise is often managed by Microsoft InTune. Guyer recommended IT admins open InTune, then navigate to Devices > Monitor and select either the Feature update failures or Windows Expedited update failures report to locate devices that might not meet the minimum Update Connectivity requirements. You can also find alerts within the Summary report within InTune, too.
Simply put, however, the way to ensure consumer or corporate Windows PCs receive updates is simply to leave the machines up and running. If you use your Windows PC every day, it should receive updates. If you leave it in a sleep state overnight, it should receive updates.
If you’re in need of a security patch, you can always go to the Windows Settings menu, then to Windows Update to “check for updates.” News reports of critical Windows patches will often include a link to the Microsoft Knowledge Base article where a patch can be downloaded, too. But the bottom line is that nothing has changed: unless you disable patching on your PC, it will remain up to date as long as it’s powered on and connected.
As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.