Windows updates need up to 8 hours to reliably install, says Microsoft

Windows 10 logo
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Update: Stop what you’re doing and install this Windows security update right now

Windows PCs should to be online for at least 6-8 hours to get and install the latest updates, according to Microsoft. 

That tip comes to us courtesy of a post on the Microsoft IT Pro Blog by David Guyer, who outlines how Microsoft data shows Windows PCs need at least 2 continuous connected hours and 6 total connected hours after an update is released to reliably update.

This is significant because Microsoft discovered that Windows PCs which aren't connected to the Internet for at least this long are unlikely to successfully download and install Windows updates, potentially weakening their security.

How devices with Insufficient Update Connectivity show up in the Windows Expedited update report in Intune

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The post also reveals that Microsoft tracks how long PCs are connected to Windows Update and logs it as an "Update Connectivity" statistic. This data is available via Microsoft's inTune app, a component of the company's Endpoint IT management toolset.

Based on that data, Guyer makes the claim in his blog post that 50% of Windows 10 devices not on a serviced build of Windows don’t meet the minimum Update Connectivity requirement. He also claims that 25% of Windows 10 PCs on a serviced build that have security updates over 60 days out of date have less than the minimum Update Connectivity.

"When troubleshooting update issues, we have found it is best to select devices that have sufficient Update Connectivity," said Guyer. "If a device has insufficient Update Connectivity, then investigating other update issues is complicated because the low Update Connectivity can create new issues that go away once there's enough connectivity."

Put simply, he's saying Windows PCs should be connected to the Internet for at least 6 hours after every update to ensure they have adequate time to patch themselves. Of course,tThis data corresponds to PCs running Windows 10. The report doesn’t say how long computers running Windows 11 need to be connected in order to reliably get and install updates, but hopefully it's even less time since, according to Microsoft, Windows 11 updates are up to 40% smaller than on prior editions.

While this information is certainly interesting, it isn’t something you necessarily need to worry about. So long as your PC is regularly powered on and connected to the internet, your updates should install just fine. If you want, you can leave your PC on overnight and let updates install while you sleep.

Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on X/Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.