The Updates Paradox

Categories Leadership, Tech for Non-Tech

 Why Updates Matter, and Why Users Don’t Care

Every IT professional knows the importance of installing software, and Operating System (OS) updates. It is so common that Microsoft’s monthly releases are Patch Tuesday. Although minor updates occur throughout the month. Given the importance of updates it is surprising to see so few users install them.

Importance of Updates

For the average piece of software – whether SaaS or installed – there are approximately 10-20 defects per line of code. The average application has 25 million lines of code, and the average OS with 40 million lines of code this results in over 250,000,000 defects!
These defects can cause performance issues, i.e. your typical application crashing or not seeming to work 100% of the time. Worse, those same defects can expose your device and information to security risks. Remember those Patch Tuesdays, they can lead to Exploit Wednesdays where nefarious actors act on the holes identified by the fix.
Worse, those same fixes can result in even more defects. Those patches/updates are more lines of code fixing others. With other applications interacting, impact of fixes on other applications is unknown. This opens the door for more security issues.
While security is not on the top of every user’s mind, the performance of their computer is. More times than not running updates will fix recurring or acute problems, yet users ignore the reminders.

Why the non-compliance?

Software updates result in a user interrupted. The average update requires a complete system restart or an application to quit. Yet, users view this as a productivity drain. Users already have a full day, and cannot quit their application that they have setup. How will they find that document again or finish email?
The amount of updates is the other barrier. The average user has at least five applications they use on a regular basis, plus the OS. This leads to of clicking update now.

The Paradox

I cannot stress the importance of updates enough, but users will not install. Thus the updates paradox. Users will continue to suffer through crashing or under-performing applications rather than running updates.
Users know that updates are important, but will disregard the advice. It is the same frustration that doctors experience with patients. The patient knows the doctor is right, but the implementation would take them out of their comfort level.

The Fix

Unfortunately, the fix is not easy. Vendors must work in concert to ensure that users are not interrupted more than they should. Also, vendors must start forcing users to comply. Gone should be the days where a user can click ‘Remind me tomorrow.’ I have seen users click the button for months on end, as a minor inconvenience to their day.
This is the ultimate fix, but will come with user frustration. We saw the fallout when Microsoft implemented this mentality with Windows 10. But, if more vendors put in place this process it will become another common practice that everyone does without thinking about it.
With that said, when is the last time you installed your updates?