As IT professionals, we often have backups of all of our critical systems. Whether it be a file server, an application server, or even a Microsoft Exchange server, we always make sure we back these servers up, and test that our backups are valid. Because we are so used to this as part of our daily lives, this practice often extends to our home computers and backing up our personal files.  We did not expect the process for the October 2018 Windows Update to be any different.

October 2018 Windows Update, Not For the Faint of Heart

Unfortunately, the average user is not used to this practice, and may not be backing up their files, even before activities like updating Windows. After all, it seems like Microsoft is pushing endless updates to Windows 10, so many users take this fact for granted and click OK when asked to update. Unfortunately, the October 2018 Update was not your typical Windows Update in this regard.

The October Windows Update, also known as update version 1809 was paused on October 6, as Microsoft investigated “isolated repots of users missing some files after updating”. While Microsoft claims this was an isolated incident in their Windows 10 Version 1809 support page, the reports of missing documents started rolling in once the update began being applied.

Beyond Windows 10, Windows Server was also impacted. While Microsoft bragged about the general availability of Windows Server 2019 at their Microsoft Ignite conference, the software was rapidly pulled after this issue was uncovered. As evidenced in the above support page, Windows Server 2019 was also impacted by this error and remains unavailable for download.

Everyday Microsoft Users Feel The Most Pain

Many home users have lost files due to this critical error from Microsoft. The question is how will they be held accountable? The answer unfortunately is more than likely hidden in the EULA everyone accepts but never reads. I would not be surprised if there is a line in there absolving Microsoft from any wrong doing in cases like these. In an attempt to atone for their transgression, Microsoft should provide free tools and education to those home users that were impacted by this bug.

This case outlines how critical it is for organization not only to back up their servers and computers on a regular basis, but to also back up servers and computers before major upgrades. In the world of virtualization, this task can be simplified by taking a snapshot of a virtual machine before upgrading, and only committing the snapshot after the update has been deemed successful. However, snapshots can be a resource intensive process and not the most desirable when many many machines are being upgrade at once. In this case, a backup would more likely be lower impact than the virtual machine snapshot.

Many news outlets cover Microsoft’s latest quality assurance failure. Engadget’s coverage is especially interesting since it mentions a small number of beta testers encountered this issue months ago. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s QA did not deem this a valid issue, as the update was still released and many users were impacted.

At this time, it is not known when the October 2018 Windows Update will be available again, or when Windows Server 2019 will be once again made available for download.