Automatic updates, whether issued by Microsoft, or by another software vendor can be a double-edges sword. Though these updates are meant to correct bugs, fix issues or path security holes many times in the process of fixing an issue the update creates a new problem on the system.
Take for an example an security update issued by Microsoft a few months ago that was meant to fix a security issue with Internet Explorer and Active-X controls (small applications that run the browser). The update did a great job fixing the issue but broke the printing capabilities of a Microsoft business application that runs in Internet Explorer. Needless to say there were many upset users and Microsoft was fairly quick to release a fix for the issue.
As you can see from the above example the issues caused by the patches or updates don not necessarily break another software package but many times causing issues with the other software from the same vendor.
Though it is not advised you can shut off automatic updates for Windows which may help prevent these type of issues but you are now leaving your system unprotected and other problems such a security breaches could occur because of missed updates. Another option is to have the updates downloaded to your system and then you can install the updates after you review what they contain. This option does provide better control on what is being installed but relies on you to be diligent in reviewing and installing the updates.
The last option is to leave automatic updates enabled but to be away of the issues that can occur. If you system starts to act strange or something does not work as it did before you can troubleshoot the issue and see if it relates to an recent updates. It may sound difficult to look for answers but I guarantee that if you are having an issue then many others are also and probable have already blogged or written about the issue so a quick google search should bring some results.
Some software packages do not allow updates to be turned-off so if you start to have issues with those software packages you may need to contact the vendor for assistance.
Next article I will discuss how to customize automatic updates for the different versions of Windows.