The Trouble With Automatic Updates

Most consumers are not going to remember to check for software updates periodically. So in the past I have recommended that my friends turn on automatic updates to everything they own that supports it. However in the last two months I have had to roll back two router firmware updates due to instability.

So the question then is if automatic updates causes problems for the consumer, what will their response be? Most will just complain but some will turn off automatic updates. The latter action then exposes the consumer to future vulnerabilities.

In the enterprise world system administrators test new updates on a small set of test hardware for signs of trouble before pushing it out to everyone. This extra step prevents bad updates from causing downtime for their organization. For the consumer there is no such person or procedure. We have to trust that the latest patches will not brick our phones or kill the router.

Is there a better solution for the consumer? Even Microsoft gets patches wrong from time to time so it’s difficult for manufacturers to make zero mistakes. A small delay then perhaps? Let the early adopters test things out before an update is pushed out to the masses? Hopefully someone will come up with a better solution.