Is it really necessary to keep Windows 7 updated?

Pankajbhai J May 30, 2014

When we buy a new PC, we automatically get the ‘Security updates’ setting on, but is keeping Windows 7 worth? I have been advised by the computer shop-owner that updates do nothing more than just slowing down your PC. I don’t think that I would get hacked, when I have a paid and genuine Quick Heal subscription.
Please tell me that I should keep the PC updated or it is not necessary?

  1. Dalsan M
    May 31, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    I would like to know what kind of "performance" problems are occurring after updating the system? Also, how much time is was between one update cycle from the next (when you updated the pc to the next time you updated the pc, and if you updated other programs such as Google Chrome since or between updates)? If you are suggesting the Windows Updates slows down the performance of Google Chrome, but then Google Chrome had been updated around the same time, then I would believe that the update to Chrome would be at fault. I say this because I have been facing much more issues than just progressively slower performance of Chrome with each release of a new version of Chrome. I had to move to Opera Browser instead due to performance and other issues.

    If the Windows Updates do slow down the performance of your overall system, then it may be that the drivers need to be updated or you are installing optional updates and software that are not exactly security updates. As previously mentioned, change the setting to Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them, as Oron suggested. Sort through the updates and only select the security updates, not the optional updates. At most, there would be a slight performance difference after applying the security patches and updates, but if there are significant performance drops, I would look into other areas to see what is going on, such as the so-called security software "Quick Heal". If I remember correctly, I have seen several forums and articles mentioning a performance hit because of Quick Heal alone, especially as time passes by.

    The shop you patronize reminds me of Best Buy's "Geek Squad". I had to take a laptop in for warranty replacement for the keyboard as it had stopped working, and the so called "Geek Squad" employee tried to plug in a serial keyboard into the laptop, almost breaking the LAN port. He noticed after hearing some creaking and cracking that it would not fit, and said "wait, this is the wrong keyboard!" He then asked whether I backed up everything, and did not understand when I said that I had backed everything up wirelessly to another PC. After arguing how stupid he was, and that the motherboard was not the issue (the laptop turned on, Windows booted fine, can log into the computer with an external keyboard, etc), they finally decided to take the laptop and send it to HP for warranty repair (replacement keyboard). The moral of this story? Do not trust shop owners or shops in general if there are any shady or unethical things going on, and telling a customer to never apply security updates is less than ethical. It is dangerous and asking for more business from you to fix future problems created by not updating and applying security patches.

    The smartest and best thing that you did was come here for experienced and expert advice on this situation. The last thing you need is an internet connected device that is unsafe to use while connected to the internet or network. If you want to keep the subscription to Quick Heal, we are not going to stop you or tell you that you shouldn't as it is not our place. What we are telling you is to apply any and all critical and important security updates, update all software (not just Microsoft software and operating system), and periodically check the manufacturer's website for updates, patches, and drivers. If you want advice on how to maintain the computer as well as boost performance, feel free to ask and we will help.

  2. Oron J
    May 31, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Okay Pankajbhai, having reread the thread, and especially the exchange between Rajaa and yourself, I think I can see what you are talking about. When Windows downloads the updates, there's a slowdown, sometimes quite drastic. Then they need to be installed, which obviously also has an impact. Once the updates have been installed and the system rebooted, however, your system should not be significantly slower.

    If this slowdown is the problem, change your settings to "Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them", and run the updates at a time of your choosing.

    Also, some updates are not security updates. The "Windows Live" suite is usually offered as an update but has nothing to do with improving security (arguably the oposite, since it creates new potential ways to attack your computer). Even such feature updates won't affect the speed of your system much, but if you're concerned about the potential slowdown, don't download them!

    Finally, any new software installation is going to create file and disk fragmentation which will reduce the performance of your hard disc. The effect is cumulative, and not related to any particular software - simply the fact that files (or parts of files) are placed randomly across the hard drive. I periodically run a disk defragmenter and optimiser (I like My Defrag, but there are plenty of alternatives, such as UltimateDefrag Freeware Edition and IO Bit Smart Defrag). You could do that and regain some of that "lost" performance.

  3. Rajaa C
    May 31, 2014 at 2:53 am

    Most of these shop owners in India suggest such thing if they have bundled pirated OS in the computer, so that Microsoft stop tracking the computer OS as non genuine.

    • Pankajbhai J
      May 31, 2014 at 3:58 am

      My shop-owner told me that this version of windows 7 is genuine. So, if it is genuine this PC does not have to stay hidden from MS. (However, when I started updating after 1 month from starting to use this PC, it was never reported non-genuine. I stopped updating only because the PC slowed down very much, exactly as what he had said.)

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      May 31, 2014 at 7:38 am

      Updates does not slow down a PC once it gets installed. It never affects performance. Probably marginal performance issue, when it is getting downloaded in the background.Updates plugs all the security flaws and bugs. When did you purchase the laptop. If it is a recent purchase and was preloaded with Windows 7, probably it is not genuine. Over a year now, windows 8 is getting preloaded in laptops or PCs and recently Windows 8.1 . Check your lappy, if there is any sticker with Windows key written. If present, then it is a OEM genuine Windows 7, otherwise it is not. Simple. Pirated Windows 7 can be activated with activator so show as genuine, and you won't get any message during updation, however it still remains a pirated copy.

    • dragonmouth
      June 1, 2014 at 3:39 pm

      @Pankajbhai J:
      "My shop-owner told me that this version of windows 7 is genuine."
      And if he told you he's going to give you a million dollars, would you believe him? Listen to your countrymen.

  4. dragonmouth
    May 30, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    You must install security updates to keep your computer safe. If you don't, your PC can be taken over by a hacker and used for his evil purposes. And definitely find another computer shop. The owner does not know what he is talking about, unless he wants your PC to be defenseless when he tries to hack into it.

  5. Oron J
    May 30, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    Bruce and Hovsep are right on the money. Change your computer shop - quickly! It would be mad not to install security updates for Windows and other apps. Bug fixes - well, it depends how critical the bugs are, and feature updates are less important yet (unless you need the feature!), but leaving your computer without the security updates is like leaving your doors and windows unlocked -- simply unwise.

    And yes, they slow down the computer, use up bandwith to download and can be annoying to install at times, but the internet's a big bad world and if just one hacker or piece of malware manages to get into your computer and cause serious damage, just because you didn't do everything within reason to protect yourself, well, how would you feel then?

  6. Hovsep A
    May 30, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Bruce E is right, windows security updates are important, for instance some take advantage in adobe flash flaws, other updates can deal with some opened ports on your Windows... It is true sometime an update can cause windows to slow so microsoft do release hotfixe to deal with.

  7. Bruce E
    May 30, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    First off, you need to deal with another computer shop because that owner is an idiot. You should ALWAYS keep your computer's software up-to-date. That goes for all applications as well as the operating system itself. Having antivirus or a security suite installed does not mean that you cannot or will not get hacked or infected, especially since almost all of them are still using a virus definition database (reactive) approach to the problem. Look at tests perfomed at AV-Comparatives, AV-Test and Dennis Technology Labs and you will see a lot of tested products that don't stop all threats. Unfortunately, none of them appear to even be testing Quick Heal, so you only have the developer's word that it is effective and I was unable to quickly find any other independent comparisons.

    Security updates are issued for a reason and it is foolish to not apply them to your computer. I have rarely seen any security update seriously impact the performance of a machine and I have been doing this for nearly 30 years. On the other hand, I have seen many computers get infected via a security flaw that aready had a patch available even though the machine had security software installed.

    The big question is how big is the risk you are willing to take that an unpatched security flaw on your machine may be used to take control of your computer, allow someone to riffle through your electronic data such as the unprotected credentials your web browser is storing so it can automatically log you into your banking site, your tax records, your personal correspondence, etc., allowing someone to steal your identity or use your computer to attack other users and companies? If you are comfortable with any of that happening, by all means, skip updating your operating system and other software. If not, keep on patching!

    • Pankajbhai J
      May 31, 2014 at 3:54 am

      I agree with all that you said, but you said that 'Security updates do not affect the performance', which I don't agree with. You may have tried with different OS, but when I talk about my PC with win 7, it slows down reasonably (and permanently) after many updates.

    • Bruce E
      May 31, 2014 at 5:38 am

      I did not say that security updates don't affect the performance of the machine. I said that in almost 30 years of working with computers as a builder, technician and user, I have rarely seen a security update have a serious impact on performance. To settle a disagreement about this same issue with a neighbor a couple of months ago, I did a clean install on the machine I am using right now with Windows 7 Ultimate SP1. I ran a transcoding test of a 23 minute video. After applying all post SP1 patches and running the same transcoding test, it took an additional 14 seconds. I should have run the test multiple times under both configurations but I wasn't going to rebuild the machine again to get back to the pre-patched version but 14 seconds for that kind of job could have come from any number of places completely unrelated to the post-SP1 patches. For web surfing, word processing, moderate spreadsheets, small databases, local web hosting, etc. most people would not even notice any kind of difference. If you are finding these tasks take longer after applying security updates, you are most likely seeing the results of another issue.

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