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Hi everyone, Leo Notenboom for askleo.com.
So, in the last week, in addition to the Spectre and Meltdown problems that we’ve been hearing and talking about, there comes news that some of the updates to specifically mitigate against those problems can brick certain machines.
So what does it mean to brick a machine? Well, that’s fairly straightforward; it basically turns your machine into nothing better than a brick. It’s large, it’s rectangular, it’s heavy; you can stack things on it but it’s not really good for much of anything else.
Once your machine has been bricked, in the case of a PC, you’ll need to, then, boot from something else, be it a new installation media, a recovery disk or something like that, in order to repair or replace the operating system that’s been damaged on the machine.
So obviously, it’s a bad thing. It’s not something you want to have happen by any stretch. And that Microsoft Updates can cause this, yes, it’s a bad thing. That should not happen; it should never happen but it did. My understanding is that it actually affects relatively few machines. Only machines that are based on AMD technology and I’m not even sure it’s all of the AMD CPUs but the bottom line is it can affect some people.
Now, in reading about this in the press, what I keep running across is something that I disagree with and something, it’s the reason I’m talking to you today. The advice that most tech pundits are giving is that you, meaning everyone, should hold off on Windows Updates until this gets resolved.
That’s not something I agree with. My approach is slightly different. If you know me, you can probably guess what it’s based on, but the bottom line is we’ve got an announced vulnerability that we now know how to exploit. The malware is coming; we know that and we’ve got fixes that work for the vast majority of people (I’m not saying everybody but for the vast majority) and the recommendation is that we don’t take those fixes because there are a few machines that might adversely impacted.
I think the priorities are wrong. I think that’s the wrong approach to dealing with this. I honestly believe that it’s a very small number of machines, number of individuals who are impacted by this bricking scenario. Not to minimize what they are going to have to go through, but there’s a better way.
The scenario that I more strongly suggest is this: Back up first. Seriously, take an image backup of your machine prior to installing Windows Updates. If you’re already doing this nightly with a combination of full or incremental or whatever backup scenarios you’re running that result in the equivalent of an image backup taken every night, you actually don’t have to do anything else.
Once you take the image backup, you’re safe. You’ve got a place to go back to should something go wrong. Now, if you take the Windows Update with all of the patches for the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerability and whatever else it happens to include, then either of two things are going to happen: It’s going to work. For most people, yeah, it’s just going to work. Nothings going wrong and as a result, you’re going to be protected from the latest round of vulnerabilities.
For some small percentage of people, you’re going to break your machine, but now, because you’ve got a backup that you took immediately prior to doing the update, you’ve got recourse. After you’ve determined your machine is affected by this, and has been turned into a brick, restore from the backup. All that really means is booting from the rescue or recovery media that your backup software uses, and then using the backup software to restore the image of your machine taken prior to the updates to the machine.
Then, reboot your machine. Your machine will be up and running again and you’ll know, yeah, don’t take those Windows Updates, they hurt when you take them. The right thing for you to do if you’re one of those few people that are impacted by this is to then pay attention to news reports or your computer manufacturer or Windows or Microsoft or whomever to understand when the patches will be safe for you to take and then, well you know what, back up again and take those patches.
The bottom line is holding everyone back from taking updates because a few might be impacted, wrong priority. I think it’s much more important that the vast majority of people take the updates and get themselves protected and then at the same time make sure we’ve got a safety net in place for people who might run into a problem.
Like I said, they aren’t going to be many of them.
So, what do you think? What are you doing about Spectre and Meltdown? This is not the place to complain Microsoft botched update. There’s plenty of that going on. Absolutely, that should not have happened but complaining about it actually doesn’t do anything. It’s not in your control. What they’ve done, they’ve done and it’s up to us now to deal with it and this is why I’m talking about this strategy of backing up and updating as an approach to dealing with it. How are you dealing with it?
Is this the approach you’re using? Are you taking the updates? Are you holding off on the updates and how safe do you feel? Let me know in the comments down below. As always, this video is on a page out at askleo.com. Here’s a link to it. It’s where all the comments are moderated; all the comments are read. We have the most lively discussion there without having any of the trolls. So, until next time, I’m Leo Notenboom for askleo.com. Remember, have fun, stay safe and especially before you take this last round of Windows Updates, don’t forget to back up. Take care.
- What Do I Need to Do About Spectre and Meltdown? – Spectre and Meltdown sound scary. Here’s what you need to do, which is hopefully what you’re doing anyway, along with an attempt at an analogy.
- How Do I Back Up My Computer? – Backing up your computer is critical to avoiding data loss. I’ll look at what it means and give a suggestion for average users.
- Why is Backing Up Your First Recommendation for Everything? - Nothing protects you and your data like a complete, recent backup, even when it might not be obvious. That's why I harp on it so much.
- Do I Need to Update My BIOS Regularly? - Your system BIOS is software, but updating it regularly may not be appropriate. Updating it to fix a bug, of course, would be.
- Dealing with Windows Update and Windows 10 - Keeping your machine as up-to-date as possible is critically important to keeping it, and yourself. safe and secure from discovered vulnerabilities. Yet, with Windows 10 of late, there seems to be risk in taking those updates as well. I'll review my strategy to stay both functional and safe.
- Managing Windows Update - Windows Update is a silent and key workhorse in keeping your machine safe and secure from the latest threats and bugs. It's a good idea to check in on Windows Update once in a while to make sure things are as they should be, and operating according to your wishes.