My iMac desktop computer restarted itself in the early hours of this morning. This is the first time I was aware of Windows restarting without permission — and I was surprised. At first I wondered if there had been a power cut during the night. But I knew there hadn’t been, as my Toshiba laptop was still on and logged in.
I normally save my work and turn everything off at night or when going out, but last night I had a Bryce ‘final render’ taking place (probably 12 hours or more). It’s recommended (by other CGI users) to leave the computer rendering overnight so that you can work during the day. The thing is, there is no autosave of the render, so you have to save it yourself once it’s done.
I got up this morning expecting to see a nice bright picture and a flag saying “this render took 12 hours, 15 minutes and 1 second!” Instead I found myself looking at a desktop with no application open. Furthermore, I wasn’t in Vista any more, I was in Snow Leopard! (I have Bootcamp, so the machine runs both operating systems. A restart in Vista always takes me back to Snow Leopard, unless I’m holding down the Alt key to give me an option).
Talk about confused.
I went back into Vista, and it told me there were Windows updates installing and I was to wait till it was done. Then it let me in, and I found that I’d lost the fine render of overnight… it had reverted back to the rough draft I’d saved earlier. I was absolutely spitting!! I did not realize it could or would reboot without direct permission from me.
I looked online and in fact it seems to be a well-documented issue! It has happened to very many people, some of them losing hours of work. One unfortunate man had his computer shut down in the middle of an important Powerpoint presentation. He said there was a warning notification, but he didn’t see it because he was facing the audience.
The complaints aren’t recent; they’ve been going on for years.
I checked my settings, and the update options are:
- Install updates automatically (recommended)
- Download updates but let me choose whether to install them
- Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them
- Never check for updates (not recommended)
I was surprised (after this morning’s experience) that they recommend that you do this automatically and they don’t warn you about the forced reboots. The first ‘recommended’ option should come with a data loss warning. The nearest I found to that issue in the help files was:
“Troubleshoot problems with installing updates. ‘I keep getting prompted to restart my computer to finish installing updates.’ Some updates apply to files or services that Windows is using. These types of updates can’t be installed while Windows is running so you should save your work, close any open programs, and then restart your computer to finish the update process.”
It still doesn’t mention that if you happen not to be around TO save your work, it goes out the window anyway when it reboots without your input!
I’m not going to mess around disabling auto reboot (as some of the other sufferers suggest)… hopefully the problem will be solved if I switch to ‘let me choose whether to download and install updates’, though my mouse hovered over ‘NEVER check for updates’ – I was very tempted! You don’t want your renders interrupted by any sort of activity, and I might still plump for the final option… I’m good about checking for updates myself in any case. In Vista (and probably XP) they should have warned inexperienced users about the ‘auto reboot’ part of installing updates.
I was saying to Mum just now that automatic updates are one thing, but rebooting without permission is another. Maybe I’m behind the times and Windows 7 has a better solution for this… I don’t know.
I’ve read comments from people who say when they pick the second option (‘download updates but allow me to choose when to install’), they have had reboots forced on them anyway. They end up disabling automatic updates altogether — which I’m sure Microsoft would consider a step backwards. I wonder if the same happens with the third option, as it’s not allowed to download anything at all? Fingers crossed it will be OK.
It struck me that the reason I haven’t had this problem before is that I was rendering on my laptop, which is generally not connected to the internet. It presumably tried to get updates, but couldn’t get online and had to go back to just rendering. That’s why it successfully completed a render last night while the Bootcamp Vista did not!