Devil Computer, Stop Updating Yourself
January 29, 2014 3:47 PM   Subscribe

This morning I was working on my computer, and stopped to take a break for lunch. I left my computer on--it generally goes to sleep after 10 minutes of inactivity. When I returned from lunch, my computer had unexpectedly shut down and had to be rebooted. Once it restarted, I noticed that it had updated several programs that have been prompting me for updates, like iTunes and Firefox. (I had purposefully not been updating them.) My computer requires permission from me to update programs like this, and it has never updated programs without that permission. Any thoughts as to what might have happened this time?

I have an HP Envy laptop, running Windows 64 Home Premium. I've had it for 2 years and it's never updated programs like this before. It *has* forced a restart and updated Microsoft security updates, but that's only after it's asked me to update and restart about a billion times previously, and I don't think I had any pending security updates this time. Usually with program updates, a box will pop up requesting permission for that program to make changes, and I have to click yes or no. Needless to say, I didn't click yes to any of those changes when I was obliviously on my lunch break!

I'm mostly wondering what might have happened, and how I can prevent it in the future. I'm extra annoyed because I didn't want to update to iTunes 11, and now it's done it without my permission, plus I'm getting all sorts of iTunes errors now...but that is an AskMe for another time.
posted by Bella Sebastian to Technology (5 answers total)
Were you alone or was there someone else around who might have seen and "helpfully" clicked yes?
posted by Jacqueline at 3:53 PM on January 29, 2014

Good question--alone in the house. Barring ghosts, I don't think there was a human element to this.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 3:55 PM on January 29, 2014

Unless you explicitly disabled updates, clicking "No" on an update screen often just delays the inevitable. I'm not terribly surprised that a restart caused them to update. Firefox in particular has shifted to a model where the updates can happen without involving even a UAC check. In Windows (for non-Microsoft programs at least) each program is responsible for its own updates, and will have its own behavior for handling them.

For Firefox, here are instructions on disabling updates. I would suggest, however, that you are purposefully sabotaging the security of your computer if you disable Firefox updates.

I have no idea on iTunes, which I don't use.
posted by Aleyn at 4:11 PM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Did you recently start using Avast antivirus software (or update to a newer version)? When I first installed it it tried to start autoupdating everything due to its own Program Updates function. I turned that function off to prevent what you've described. Other than daily antivirus-type updates, I prefer just to be notified when program updates are available and then decide myself when they're installed. I've been burned one too many times by a bad update which was fixed by the provider within a few days but in the interim was a mess to try to uninstall.
posted by fuse theorem at 4:26 PM on January 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm not using Avast, but I did recently start using Vipre. After doing some digging I found out that they have a similar setting that automatically updates any programs on my computer. Thanks fuse theorem!
posted by Bella Sebastian at 5:55 PM on January 29, 2014

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