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If you've been using Windows 10 for the last few months, you've probably heard about the big October update that encountered some serious snags on its way out the gate, up to and including the deletion of entire folders containing personal documents. We'll call this Data Point No. 1.

Late last week, a Microsoft VP disclosed that users who manually check for updates in the third or fourth week of any month may receive updates that have not completed a conventional testing protocol. Data point No. 2.

SEE: Microsoft relaunches Windows 10 October Update after fixing file deletion bug

Corporate VP Michael Fortin, to wit: ""We also release optional updates in the third and fourth weeks of the month, respectively known as 'C' and 'D' releases. These are preview releases, primarily for commercial customers and advanced users 'seeking' updates. These updates have only non-security fixes. The intent of these releases is to provide visibility into, and enable testing of, the non-security fixes that will be included in the next Update Tuesday release."

He added, "The 'D' release has proven popular for those 'seeking' to validate the non-security content of the next 'B' release."

As we concluded in the original report, the upshot is that Windows 10 users should avoid manually checking for updates if they want to ensure that they are getting fully vetted downloads from Microsoft. Because the implication from Fortin's disclosure is that the October update's file deletion mess can be traced back to manual checks.

In a curious turn of events, The Verge reports that this is exactly the update method that Microsoft is now recommending people use to obtain the belated and beleaguered "October" update, now referred to as "version 1809" due to the lateness of the hour. Microsoft's support page says, "Windows 10, version 1809, is now fully available for advanced users who manually select 'Check for updates' via Windows Update."

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The "for advanced users" part is particularly puzzling. Does Microsoft believe that manually checking is too complex for normies -- or is it giving itself a rhetorical cushion to land on if the update goes haywire again? Either way, the invitation's wording does not inspire confidence, and we maintain our recommendation to avoid manual updates in Windows 10.

It's a surreal position to take, given how the entire cybersecurity community collectively urges the world to update our apps and operating systems early and often to fend off hackers and hooligans. But with Microsoft's serious documented errors with the October update, and its disclosure that "C" and "D" updates may not be fully tested, using Windows 10's automated update system appears to be the lesser of two evils.

That is, unless you're willing to ditch Windows altogether for a more secure operating system, after you've backed up your important files to the cloud or to an external storage device. Assuming that a Windows update didn't delete them first.


  • A Microsoft support page says that the Windows 10 October update, aka "version 1809, "is now is now fully available for advanced users who manually select 'Check for updates' via Windows Update."
  • However, a corporate Microsoft VP stated last week that manual update checks in weeks 3 or 4 of any month can produce Windows 10 updates that are still in a testing phase; the implication is that manual checks were what caused the document deletion error that delayed the "October" update well into November.
  • As a result, we still recommend that Windows 10 users avoid manual updates -- or perhaps you should consider a more reliably tested operating system altogether.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.