Just have a backup

On June 25, 2009, in Security, by

  Hi, Diva Susan,

I read ‘The dreaded “Stuck on update 3 out of 3” issue’ in your “The correct way to install Vista Service Pack 2” item today.   Unfortunately, the MS terror is not limited to Vista SP2 and IE8.

I got the daily dreaded popup from the June 2009 “Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista (KB967632)” since 11 days ago until I stopped the Automatic Updates about 5 days ago.  What is worse is that I have only one restore point dated today.  So those advices in your article about KB949358 and the Yahoo forum link are too late for me.  

I am thinking about following the advice of “If it ain’t broke, why fix it? I have a hardwired router and great anti-virus and anti-spyware software so I just update those. I haven’t had ANY problems in over a year.” in

Sometimes I wonder if what I do is a disservice to people.  Let me explain why.  And I apologize in advance to every family member of the Air France disaster.

When I write articles at www.windowssecrets.com on patch management, I’m the Ambulance chaser.  I’m the live reporter on the scene.  I’m the CNN anchor telling you the horror of the Air France disaster.  The reality that every day people get in airplanes, cars, trains, busses, mules, horses and any number of transportation vehicles and get to their destinations just fine.  But I’m the one on the scene of the bloody accident telling you to be careful.  To buckle up.  To be afraid.  To fear….. to fear…. life.  And I don’t want you to fear that.  Because honestly the patching issues I talk about are like the Air France disaster.  Indicators that issues may occur.  Indicators that we need to look at our equipment, but not a sign that EVERY plane is suddenly going to drop out of the sky in mid flight.

I do want you to feel like you are in control.  And before someone says that cloud computing takes all this patching headache away and transfers it to the cloud… okay you got me there… sort of…until their update screw up means that you are still dealing with cloud updating issues.  They too blow up.  They too roll back.  And maintenance is on their schedule not yours, so as long as you understand that they too update just at a larger scale than your computer and you may still have issues it’s just at a much larger scale and lots more people are cussing at each other and dealing with the support issues of bad updating.

So if you aren’t comfortable in leaving automatic updates turned on, I understand.  But please do not turn off updates completely.  And please make a plan that security patches you will install pretty quickly.  But it’s okay if you want to wait on a patch that isn’t a security one and isn’t a priority to you.  Like I always say, Internet Explorer is not a patch with a high priority on my Servers but it is on my Workstations.  As to the potential for issues with Vista where it gets stuck in that loop of installing 3 out of 3, it can occur on Vista, it can even occur on Windows 2008.  But it’s not occuring on all computers.  And the probability is that your particular Vista is not that Air France plane.

So how do you make sure that you aren’t that Air France plane?

HAVE A BACKUP.  While we honestly don’t know for sure what happened with that Plane, it appears that some horrible malfunction occurred.  In the computer world we have a much easier way to protect ourselves by having a backup.  It can be as low tech as the built in one with Vista, to a better one with Storage Craft or after seeing Kevin Royalty’s presentation on Home Server last night and especially the HP models with the ability to do streaming media over the web, remote access, the backup technology it has is way cool, having one of those or a NAS unit to backup those workstations you REALLY CARE about is wise.  I confidently install patches because I either have machines that are backed up because I care about them, or that they are test machines that I don’t care about. 

If you have a computer you care about and if you don’t want that computer to blow up, you have a backup.  It’s that simple.

Even if you didn’t plan and prepare… there are still ways to dig out of the disaster —  The update is not installed successfully, you receive a message, and the computer restarts when you try to install an update in Windows Vista:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;949358  I’ve seen that pending.xml info work many a time. 

But the way you prepare for ANYTHING in life is have a plan.  For the risks I take getting in my Mini Cooper and driving around, I buckle up my seat belts, I follow the posted speed limits (really, I do).  For when I get on planes and the turbulence starts and my stomach starts to flutter with anxiety, I tell myself it’s just a ride on Disneyland and relax and tell myself that the reality is that the bulk of the people using cars, planes, busses, trains, and yes…. even computers…. get to their destinations just fine.  We hear about the disasters.  We never write stories about when things “just work exactly the way they were intended to”.


4 Responses to Just have a backup

  1. S.I. Chou says:

    Thanks for your response and advice.

    I do not have the Windows Vista installation disc, nor restore points. I do have an image backup (TeraByte’s Image for Windows) at the end of the previous month and a daily file backup (built-in Vista one) for each month. Since today is June 25, the image backup is a bit old,

    I was wondering whether it is OK to endure or drag on the bad “update 3 out of 3 for ‘June 2009 “Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista (KB967632),’ since I have stopped the Automatic Update. I guess you may not think this is a good idea, so I better restore the May 31 image backup and then the file backup. Am I right?

  2. Vlad Mazek says:

    Exchange in the cloud for business.
    Gmail on the side for personal junk.
    Mac on the desktop.

    Just works….. πŸ˜‰

    Ok, so it doesn’t but I hope you can at least see why this (see blog post above) is not the desireable way to use a computer in business. Every time something like (the above) happens, you lose money. You waste time and money on maintenance, you upgrade what feels like every year, migrate data where something breaks every time and things never seem to get any better.

    At some point the need to control and see your data is undermined by the simplicity and relative inexpense of it being somewhere else.

    We have crossed that point about 18 months ago.

    Now let me get personal, you CPA: The reason us filthy vendors don’t care about the conversations taking place about the need to keep things on premise is because we sit in little dark smoke filled rooms with our axes and money bags and know that the upgrade mill is not making the money anymore. Furthermore, when things break we simply lose a client. We have this immense burden of a middleman (VAR, DIYer, college kid) who is not trained properly, doesn’t understand the previous release, ends up making the situation worse and the cost of supporting that customer is immense – so “the cloud” becomes our way of being able to support and manage the client. Eventually, we will build a bridge to store the data on your local network where you can control it too, but the problem we are dealing with now is creating a scalable version of what you have, secure and filled with the same features you have on your network at the same speed. It is not a small challenge. However, the days of us expecing you to have a professional network setup in a local environment are simply over.

    By all accounts, majority of people do not have a problem with this which is why every software vendor is pushing in that direction. The hope is that eventually we can make it so simple that even the most paranoid of a decision maker will be able to understand the software they subscribe to.

    Love ya πŸ˜‰


  3. bradley says:

    Time will only tell if the vendors can truly deliver on these promises that they are giving. In the mean time the cloud vendors need to

    a. build that cloud (Microsoft and other vendors)
    b. Secure that cloud (everyone else with a cloud solution)
    c. meanwhile Google is building it’s own browser because it can’t count on that Mac working

  4. Greg says:

    A backup and a plan are crtitical but the update 3 of 3 is unacceptable to me because you have no idea if it is working or not and seems like poor software design. Your plane may be heading down but hopefully your not blind and all your guages are faulty. Is it that hard to provide an option to see verbosely what is happening, if anything (Have a details button and maybe a cancel that allows you to rollback like a good database transaction). I hate waiting 3.5 hours at midnight not knowing if it is going to finish or not. (The guy I spoke to at MS PSS told me he had seen a virtualised Windows 2008 server take 5 hours to complete).

    Restoring from backup is a good plan but once you start that process you could be opening more cans of worms and could cost me the rest of my night and how can I morally charge a client for that time (I installed it, I broke it due to things out of my control)