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How to download and install Windows updates manually

Most home devices that run a version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system are updated using Windows Update. Windows Update is a comfortable solution to install patches for the operating system with minimal effort; downside to using Windows Update is that administrators are no longer in full control when it comes to the installation of updates; selecting when to install updates and which is limited.

Some administrators prefer to use third-party solutions like Windows Update Minitool or Sledgehammer to install updates, others to download and install updates manually for full control.

The manual option gives administrators full control over the updating; downside to selecting the manual route is that it is necessary to monitor update releases — e.g. by reading Ghacks — to stay in the loop.

It is definitely more work to download and install Windows updates manually but the gain makes it worth it for some administrators.

Manually installing updates Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • full control over updates
  • option to delay the installation of updates
  • option to install security-only updates on pre-Windows 10 systems.

Cons:

  • Update information need to be obtained.
  • Research and updating requires more time.

How to install Windows updates manually

download windows updates manually - How to download and install Windows updates manually

Microsoft publishes most updates that it releases on the Microsoft Update Catalog website. Think of the site as a searchable directory of updates released by Microsoft; you find all cumulative updates for Windows there as well as many other patches for Windows and other Microsoft products.

Search should start with a KB (Knowledgebase ID). You get those from support articles that Microsoft releases, blog posts on sites like Ghacks, or by using third-party tools to check for updates.

Just paste the KB ID in the search field and hit the Enter-key to run a search; you get multiple results returned often as updates are usually offered for multiple architectures.

One example: the KB4505903 search returns four items for ARM64, x64, x64 for Windows Server, and x86 architectures.

Tip: if you need to look up information about the PC to determine which update applies to it, run system information from the Start menu.

Hit the download button next to the update that you want to download to your system. One of the advantages of using the Microsoft Update Catalog is that you can download updates for other devices as well as you are not limited to download “matching” updates only. Windows Update blocks any updates that are not designed for the computer’s hardware.

The Microsoft Update Catalog website opens a popup that lists all the files for that particular update. You may get multiple files there or just a single file.

microsoft update catalog download - How to download and install Windows updates manually

Use the browser to download all of them, e.g. by right-clicking on files and selecting the save as option. Updates are provided as MSU files usually.

All that is left to do then is to double-click on the downloaded MSU file to install the update. Most updates require a reboot.

One issue that you may run into while installing updates manually is that updates may have dependencies that you need to install prior to installing the update.

You can look up information by clicking on one of the items listed on the Microsoft Update Catalog website; this opens another popup with detailed patch information.

There you find listed the support url and package details. Package details display updates that get replaced by the new update, and updates the downloaded update has been replaced by.

Closing Words

Manually downloading updates and installing them gives administrators control over the updating process at the expense of spending time on research.

Now You: Do you update manually or automatically?

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