Before Patch Tuesday, a list of things to do to avoid problems

You could call today Patch-Tuesday Eve. It’s the day before Windows machines get updates offered by Microsoft. What should you do to prepare yourself?

It depends on what kind of computer user you are.

If your files are stored in the cloud

You keep everything in the cloud, you use a Microsoft account, you don’t mind reinstalling your OS if necessary. Your data is protected by a username and password, and if you’re savvy, your data is protected by two-factor authentication.

Before Patch Tuesday, you may decide you don’t need to back up your computer since you know that if something happens to your computer, you can reinstall the operating system and simply reconnect to your various online storage services. Have you double-checked that all the cloud services you use have file version enabled, so if you need to roll back to a previous version of a file, you can.

After Patch Tuesday, if you come across problematic updates affecting access to your files, click Start, Settings, Update & Security, View Update History, and click “Uninstall Updates”. Restart and block the update. (If the computer isn’t bootable, you’ll need to reinstall Windows by booting from a flash drive with an ISO of the version of Windows you’re using.) You’ll then use your username and password to reconnect to your data files. You will also need to know how to track down any necessary hardware drivers. Ideally, you’ll have tested this process beforehand and know where to track down a missing driver on a vendor’s website.

If you are this type of user, your biggest concern would be a lost internet connection. Most businesses have invested in a backup internet connection and a firewall that can automatically drop if something goes wrong. (If you are a home user, you can use the hotspot on your phone to access the Internet.)

If your computer crashes completely, you can also, in a pinch, use some other device like a phone or tablet to access your files, email, or other data you rely on.

If your files are stored locally on your computer

So you store everything on your computer? You don’t use a Microsoft account or Google Drive. Before Patch Tuesday (like today), you should back up your local machine; that way, if you need to reset, restore, or even reinstall your operating system, you can regain access to your data.

If you experience any side effects on Patch Tuesday, as noted above, you can move on to uninstall updates, restart your device, and then block the update. Alternatively, if you are unable to boot your system, you should know how to do it using the backup software restore process and initiate a full restore from a backup. (Ideally you’ve made sure you have a full system backup before installing any updates.)

In this case, the most important thing to worry about is the health of your hard drive. You’ll want to make sure you have an image backup and that you have a process in place that creates multiple backups using rotating external hard drives. If something goes wrong, you will be able to restore your system. (You might want to consider having a hidden spare SSD, so if something happens to your hard drive you can easily swap it out and restore from your backup.)

As noted earlier, if your computer crashes completely, you can use a phone or tablet to access your email. But to access your files, you will have to wait until the recovery process is completed first. Alternatively, you can use another computer to mount the backup image and save the necessary files to a flash drive, then use that other computer until the primary PC is fully restored.

If you store files in the cloud and locally

If you’re this type of hybrid computer user, like many of us, a backup is still important. The most important thing to worry about is knowing where your sensitive information is stored, where your backup locations are, and then documenting the best way to restore it.

If something happens to your computer and you need to reinstall your operating system or decide to buy a new computer, document your options so you can access your data as soon as possible. Typically, in the short term, you would access files from a remote location, rebuild your computer, and re-sync your files on a regular basis.

The bottom line here is that in each of these scenarios, having a current backup, whether stored in the cloud or on a local drive, gives you options should something go wrong. And it ensures you never have to worry about Patch Tuesday issues again; you may be disturbed, yes, but you won’t be completely out of order. Your data will always be there for you.

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