Saturday, April 15, 2017

My Windows Creators Update froze at 82%

Every year, Microsoft is upgrading its "last" operating system for PC, Windows 10. Sometimes there are two medium-size upgrades a year. The first upgrade was the Anniversary Update and the coming one is the Creators Update.

They are gradually offering the update via Windows Update to selected subgroups of users across the world – to be sure that the Microsoft servers aren't overloaded and to hire the first users of the new update as guinea pigs. I was moderately looking forward to have the update – with things like the 3D paint and other things for creators and gamers. My upgrades from Windows 7 to Windows 10 as well as the upgrade to Windows 10 Anniversary Edition were straightforward and free of visible problems – but still very time-consuming, eating some two hours per update "away from the desktop screen".

Unfortunately, I was among the selected ones who were offered the Creators Update this week. First of all, the download ended up with errors on two previous days. I haven't gotten Windows Update errors for a long time – maybe never with Windows 10 – but the Creators Update download and preparation ended up with an error 5 times – with at least 3 different error codes.

It is plausible, however, that the aggressive Bolshevik behavior of the Avira antivirus – that has again damaged my installation of the Auslogics software, despite the fact that I have added all the Auslogics programs on the exception list and it has been respected for weeks (and despite the fact that the newest Auslogics Defragmenter clearly doesn't have any bundled software at all) – could have been responsible for these errors.

After the 6th download attempt in the afternoon, my laptop told me that everything was ready. So it looked straightforward. I pressed "restart now" in order for the installation of Creators Update to begin.

I really didn't expect problems because my previous updates went fine in recent years. Well, I was proven wrong. It was working for an hour – on a green screen or a black screen, restarting etc. But suddenly I saw that after one of the black restarts that took place at 75%, the green screen was showing "configuring settings at 76%" for a very long time. After about 40 minutes, I was losing my patience, getting ready to press the power button. But five minutes later, I was grateful for being so patient.

The progress suddenly moved to 79% where it stayed for a few minutes. And then to 82%. It had to work when it got from that hopeless place.

Except that it got stuck at 82% again and, to make the story short, it was sitting there for over two hours. Moreover, the computer didn't seem to be doing much. Given the passivity of the fan, I would guess that the CPU was running at most at 2%. And the hard disk LED light was only blinking for 0.01 second each second. Almost no activity. So if it were "comfortably" doing something, it was doing it at a speed that was about 100 if not 1,000 times lower than the acceptable one.

After almost 3 hours at 82%, I long-pressed the power button. Thankfully, the laptop apparently started some Windows but instead of the Windows, it began to recover the previous installation without asking any questions. And the previous Windows installation was back within 15 minutes. Yes, once again, after hours, I could finally see what the hard disk LED diode looks like when the hard disk is fully employed – as it should be during these stages that prevent the human user from using the PC. So I guess it's true that these systems have developed many new features to increase the survival rates. When things go wrong, you may usually successfully complete the time machine. (Also, during the first years of this blog, the window with "create a blog post" often crashed and I lost an hour of typing. These days, it's being periodically saved so even if something goes wrong, I don't lose much.)

I am curious whether I will be able to avoid the Creators Update now – and for how long. I will surely try to delay the installation as much as possible – and because of my experience, I recommend you to do the very same thing.

If you make a Google search, you will see that lots of people have reported a hanging update process with the Windows Anniversary Edition. Sometimes it was at the same 82%. Clearly, the same problems are back. Some people had some remarkable fixes. Disconnect the PC from the grid so that it runs on its own battery – and it got unstuck, some people said. It didn't work for me. Nothing like that worked – restarting the WiFi router, disabling WiFi using a button on the keyboard, taking the mouse, keyboard, and a card reader from the laptop, and so on.

Other users claimed that the process was just slow but it did complete after 8 hours or 34 hours or another astronomical number. I didn't want to try it. The probability that it wouldn't complete even after 156 hours was too high.

But you know, even if the process is straightforward and takes 2 hours like the previous updates, it's still crazily long. These annoying time-consuming updates are a giant anachronism. I think that while updating your system, Microsoft should simply create two versions of all files that matter, check that the new one would work in the background, and when things are right, it should just switch to the new one within a split second. It could surely be done. No one has been under sufficient pressure to bring these insane processes to the 21st century yet. But I insist that even the speedup by two orders of magnitude is easy to be made, modest, and insufficient. A bigger than a 100-fold speedup of these things is desirable and possible.

And even when a similar upgrade procedure is kept, the computer should be able to figure out that it got stuck. When it decides that it has no way to continue, it should say "sorry" and automatically start the process of recovery, without forcing the user to spend hours by futile waiting and losing the patience.

Again, I recommend you not to be a guinea pig. The update isn't quite safe (yet?), you may lose many and many hours with a nightmare. Moreover, some of the glitches that may cause the nightmare may be the very same ones that were already bringing lots of hassle to users a year or years ago – and Microsoft still hasn't fixed them.

I am a Microsoft fan but with this experience, I have some doubts whether Microsoft's capitalization will reach the $1 trillion before Apple's. ;-)

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