Security Patches and Updates
For computers running Windows on UNCG”s General Commputing Network (GCN), Information Technology Services (ITS) uses the Software Updates feature to deploy Windows and other critical software updates to ensure they are patched and up-to-date. This increases the security of the individual computers and protects the integrity of the network and the computers that reside within it.
The Software Updates feature gives ITS the flexibility to decide what updates to deploy, which computers will receive the updates, and when they will be deployed. ITS also has the ability to accurately report on the status of computers and whether or not they have the necessary updates.
The method of regularly deploying updates described in this document ensures that computers are kept patched and up-to-date. This increases the security of the computers in the environment and protects the integrity of the network and the machines that reside within it.
- When and how often are patches installed on GCN computers?
ITS has a regular monthly patching cycle so that users will know what to expect. This will allow ITS to keep workstations as up-to-date as possible without compromising usability.
Microsoft generally releases updates on the second Tuesday of each month. Patches related to these updates are made available to Windows GCN computers at 9:00 AM on the Friday following the second Tuesday of each month. You may choose to install these patches at any time during the week that follows, until they become mandatory on the following Friday at 5:30 PM.
NOTE: If software vendors release patches to address critical security threats, the updates may be done more frequently. Updates that need to be done outside of the normal monthly patching schedule will be announced on the ITS News website.
- Does my computer need to be turned on to get patches and updates?
While your computer needs to be turned on for patches and updates to install, this does not mean you must leave it turned on overnight to receive updates. If a GCN computer is off at the time a patch is released, the patch will be downloaded the next time it is powered on. You will be notified that updates are ready to be installed and you may choose to complete the installation at any time until the installation becomes mandatory. Be aware that the installation may require one or more reboots. ITS recommends that you install patches before they become mandatory, so that you can control when the reboots and start-up delays occur.
There is no technical requirement to leave your computer on overnight. Unless you have a specific need (e.g., running long computational jobs), ITS recommends you shut down your computer at the end of each work day. Reduced power consumption is a priority in the UNCG Climate Action Plan and individuals shutting down their computers overnight moves us toward our climate neutral goal. Benefits also include less exposure of your computer to security risks such as remote hacking attempts.
To summarize: It is unnecessary to keep computers on overnight or weekends, as long as any delays during the next start-up are acceptable to the computers’ users.
- When and how often are patches installed on ITS lab and classroom computers?
Microsoft generally releases updates on the second Tuesday of each month. The majority of lab and classrooms computers will receive patches between 12:00 a.m. - 3:00 a.m. on the Saturday following the third Tuesday of each month. A small subset of these computers (15-30) will patch on the third Tuesday , between 12:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., to ensure that patches will not cause problems on these computers. This schedule may be modified to accommodate critical times in the academic calendar, such as mid-term and final exams.
- Do the computers need to be turned on to get patches and updates?
Yes, however ITS can remotely power-on the computers in ITS labs and classrooms when updates need to be run.