Home / Windows 10

Automating Maintenance

Windows 10 performs automated maintenance to help optimize your computer's performance. Unfortunately, while the idea of such of thing sounds terrific, the reality is a bit different.

By default, automated maintenance occurs daily at 2:00 AM. If your computer is in sleep mode at this time, the computer wakes from sleep and resumes normal operations automatically so maintenance can be performed. Your computer will stay active during the maintenance schedule. By default, if your computer has updates that require a restart, your computer restarts at 3:30 AM. After the restart, if all goes well, your computer will resume any maintenance tasks that still need to be process or wait for the idle time to elapse and then re-enter sleep mode.

These automated processes work well, but are far from perfect. For starters, your computer must be plugged in and running on AC power for any automated maintenance to occur. Second, a user must also be logged in and the computer must be either idle or in sleep mode. If you logged out of your computer and no other user is logged in, automated maintenance won't occur, nor will it occur if you or someone else is using your computer during the maintenance window.

Starting to see a problem here? Yes? Well, there's more. If the maintenance window is missed, Windows won't try again until the next day at the scheduled maintenance time. Additionally, the housekeeping tasks don't follow these same rules. Once a disk check or disk defrag start, they will continue until they are finished, regardless of whether a user is logged on-and both of these tasks will continue running off and on for up to 3 days if necessary.

Optimizing the Maintenance Window

Personally, I don't want my computer to wake at 2:00 AM, nor do I want it to restart at 3:30 AM. I am often going into the office and finding the computer running when I arrive for work in the morning-hours after it should have reentered sleep mode. There are many reasons this can happen. The two most common: A pending action or power options that prevent sleep mode when idle.

Because I don't want my computer running for 5, 6, 7 or 8 hours before I get to the office, I configure automated maintenance to start about 2 and a half hours beforehand and I schedule restarts to occur about an hour and a half later.

You can change the maintenance start time by following these steps:

  1. Type Security And Maintenance in the Search box and press Enter.
  2. In Security And Maintenance, expand the Maintenance panel and then click Change Maintenance Settings.
  3. On the Automatic Maintenance page, use the Run Maintenance Tasks lists to set the desired start time, such as 6:00 AM.
  4. Optionally, if you don't want Windows to wake your computer to perform automated maintenance, clear the Allow Scheduled Maintenance... checkbox.
  5. Click OK to save your settings.

Running Maintenance Manually

Of the many housekeeping tasks performed during automated maintenance, these are the most important:

  • Check Disk
  • Disk Defragment
  • Problem Reporting

Your computer is constantly reading from and writing to its primary disk. If a particular sector or cluster on a disk is damaged or otherwise cannot be written to, your computer will experience problems whenever it tries to read from or write to this sector or cluster. Although the operating system and drive controllers help to mitigate and correct disk problems, they can't prevent and correct all disk problems. Occasionally errors occur, and Check Disk can correct these errors.

Another problem that causes disk drives to perform poorly is fragmentation. Fragmentation occurs when a file can't be written to a single contiguous area on the disk and the operating system must write a single file to several areas on the disk. Not only does this slow down the write process, it also slows down the read process. To reduce fragmentation, Windows 10 uses Disk Defragmenter to defragment disks automatically. Other types of problems that occur on your computer may be detected by automated problem reporting and diagnostics.

You can initiate these and other maintenance tasks at any time by following these steps:

  1. Type Security And Maintenance in the Search box and press Enter.
  2. In Security And Maintenance, expand the Maintenance panel and then click Start Maintenance.

Maintaining Performance with Updates

Your computer's performance is tied directly to the Windows components, hardware devices, and applications that are installed. Poor programming and coding problems can keep your computer from performing optimally. You can ensure that the most recent updates and hot fixes are applied to your computer by using Windows Update.

Windows Update allows your computer to automatically download and update operating system components, device drives, optional components and related programs. To take this process a step further, you can configure your computer to use Microsoft Update, which ensures that updates for other Microsoft products are updated as well.

Many applications from third-party vendors have update features as well. Use these update features whenever possible to keep installed applications up to date and performing optimally.

Windows Update integrates with Microsoft Update to ensure that the operating system and installed Microsoft applications stay up to date. You can determine whether your computer is using Microsoft Update by following these steps:

  1. Click Start and then click Settings. In Settings, click Update & Security. In the left pane, the Windows Update option is selected by default.
  2. In the main pane, scroll down and then click the Advanced Options link.
  3. If your computer is using Microsoft Update, the Give Me Updates For Other Microsoft Products option is selected. If your computer isn't getting these updates and you want to get them, select the related checkbox.

While you are working with the Windows Update, you should optimize the update settings. Click Chose How Updates Are Installed List and then choose either Notify To Schedule Restart or Automatic.

With notification, you are notified to schedule a restart after Windows downloads updates that require a restart. You can then specify when the restart should occur or restart the computer manually. If there are updates that don't require a restart, you'll need to apply them manually. On Windows Update page, you'll see a message that there are updates ready to install. Click Next and follow the prompts. With some updates you may need to access license terms. If so, you'll need to click Accept And Install. Other times, you'll simply need to review the available updates and click Install.

Rather than constantly being notified about updates or having to check for updates that need to be applied, I prefer the Automatic option. With Automatic, Windows Update downloads and installed updates automatically. By default, your computer periodically checks for and downloads updates when you are connected to the Internet over wi-fi and doesn't download updates when you are using mobile data. If a restart is required to install the updates, Windows schedules the restart for a time when you aren't using the computer.

Scheduled restarts depend on you using the sleep mode rather than shutting down. If you try to shut down your computer after updates have been downloaded, you have the option of installing updates and then shutting down or shut down without installing updates.

By default, Windows schedules restarts at 3:30 AM on any day when a restart is needed. This time follows the Automatic Maintenance schedule, which is set to run daily at 2:00 AM. You can view available updates and determine whether a restarting is scheduled by following these steps:

  1. Click Start and then click Settings. In Settings, click Update & Security. In the left pane, the Windows Update option is selected by default.
  2. Available updates are listed in the main pane. Scroll up. If a restart is scheduled, this is stated.
  3. You can restart immediately by clicking Restart Now. To change the restart schedule, choose Select A Restart Time. Next, specify a time and day for the restart, such as 8:00 AM, Tomorrow.

Resolving Update Problems

Your computer may experience problems caused by installing updates. Although this happens rarely, it does happen. You can view a detailed update history and a list of successful, pending and failed updates by following these steps:

  1. Click Start and then click Settings. In Settings, click Update & Security. In the left pane, the Windows Update option is selected by default.
  2. In the main pane, scroll down and then click the Advanced Options link.
  3. Click View Update History. On the View Update History page, updates listed with a Successful status were downloaded and installed. Updates listed with an Unsuccessful status were downloaded but failed to install. Updates listed with the Requires A Restart status were downloaded and will be installed when the computer is restarted.

Some important changes to Windows Update that you should know about. Unlike early releases of Windows, Windows 10 gets updates for the operating system, device drivers and optional components automatically. You can't specify that you don't want these updates, nor can you decline installing these update. However, you can uninstall an optional update that proves problematic. If you are already on the View Your Update History page, click the Uninstall Updates link to open the Installed Updates page in Control Panel. Next, click the optional update to remove and then click Uninstall.

More: Windows 10 Tutorials