How do I know what are the most compulsory updates for Windows 7?

Drsunil V August 15, 2013

How do I find out the most compulsory updates for Windows 7 and avoid updates which can be important but not compulsory for Windows 7 to run? How do I set only the most compulsory updates to install?

  1. Bruce E
    August 16, 2013 at 12:06 am

    I think the way OP phrased his initial question is causing a bit of confusion here, so here's my $.02.

    So far, Windows 7 does not have any truly compulsory updates. You can install Windows 7 off of the DVD and not apply any updates and it will work although it will also be vulnerable due to security issues that were fixed subsequent to any service packs that may have been included with the initial install. In fact, when it comes to compulsory updates, there have been few thoughout all of Windows history that were required to be installed in order to continue using any portion of the functionality of the operating system.

    That being said, it is best to install EVERY security update that Windows Update has determined to be required to fix an existing issue on your machine. These are the ones that are flagged as Important by WU. With a default installation, Recommended or Optional updates are not automatically installed. You can change this behavior by going to Control Panel - Windows Update - Change settings. There is a checkbox that will also install Recommended updates as well. There is a checkbox to also check for updates for other Microsoft products that are installed (Office, etc); these are the Optional updates as are most driver updates. This option follows the same criteria for Important or Recommended updates using the Recommended updates checkbox. So, if you only want the Important (primarily security) updates to be installed Automatically, you can have the WU update settings: Automatically install (pick when), Clear the Recommended updates checkbox. The other Microsoft products checkbox can go either way. If you have MS Office installed, you really should have this one checked so you automatically get the security updates for it.

    It should also be noted that even if the Recommended updates checkbox is checked, it will not automatically download and install all of them. You may have to manually check some of them in order to get them. I'm not sure why MS did this but that's just the way it is and these updates seem to deal primarily with third-party driver updates that have been certified by MS and are put into their update system.

    If you want to know why each update is required (or recommended) for your system, you can set WU to notify only (or download and notify) and look at the list of updates first. On the right-hand side of the dialog box, there is limited information about the update with a link to a knowledgebase article giving more detail about the issues it is fixing. Even keeping Automatic Updates turned on, you can get this information as long as it is done prior to the updates being installed (get in early enough on the second Tuesday of the month). You can also see the same information for updates that have already been installed by going to Control Panel - Windows Update - View update history. You can right-click on any of the updates in the list and select View details from the context menu to see the same content that appeared on the right side of the update dialog box.

  2. Dave R
    August 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Go to Start/Programs choose Windows Update, in the right choose Change Settings there you can change setting to suit you, hope this helps.

  3. Dave P
    August 15, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Change your settings so that Windows 7 checks for updates and lets you review them before downloading or installing. You'll then be able to see which are the most important, usually just by the name. Some cannot be skipped at all, while others are recommended but optional. You really should install any related to security or bugs though, as your best chance of avoiding serious malware is to have an up-to-date OS.

    • Drsunil V
      August 15, 2013 at 4:35 pm


      As you mentioned "usually just by the name" , then can auto-install be set only for most compulsory update? If yes , pl elaborate how to configure auto-install only for the compulsory updates. Which "names" to choose to configure?

  4. Dave R
    August 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    If you are talking about Windows 7 updates only you can set your priority to not install them but to ask you first then you can choose just which you want to install as they will not get installed until you have looked them over, But to be honest with you I would just install them all as they are for your OS.

    • Drsunil V
      August 15, 2013 at 4:31 pm


      Pl note q as asked is how to set to choose only the compulsory updates

  5. Oron Joffe
    August 15, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Windows updates are rated as Critical, Important or optional. The most important are obviously the critical ones. Other updates tend to fall into security fixes, bug fixes, better hardware support and new features, and I would consider any security fixes to be very important, even if they are not marked as "critical".

  6. Jan F
    August 15, 2013 at 7:14 am

    Windows updates are automatically 'flagged' as either important or optional.

    Important updates usually fix security or functionality related issues wherein optional are usually features e.g. languages or bugfix for issues only selected installations are faced with.

    Speaking truly compulsory none of them are required. After installing Windows it is obviously working even without running Windows Updates. It is only until you face an issue that one or another update appears to be compulsory.

    If you want an updated and 'secure' Windows installation go with the suggested important updates. There is no point in being more selective as WU will not ask you to install an important update for a component that isn't already on your system.

  7. Loenja S
    August 15, 2013 at 6:59 am

    personally: i would install security updates first, then updates to the programs that i use.

    i also think that if you use 3rd party AV software, and browser, then any updates are less important as they are no longer the front line against threats

    • Drsunil V
      August 15, 2013 at 4:15 pm


      Very methodic and intelligent reply!

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