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I am looking to have a computer that I want to keep development only, and try not to connect to the internet, or my network at all.

I am curious if there is anything wrong with not updating anything with Windows Update, on that machine, if I am not connected to the internet?

The only thing I've really seen on Windows update is fixes against exploits, and not really malware, so if I transferred files to the un-updated computer, could there be issues? How likely would it be to get malware that could take advantange of an exploit that's patched on one machine, be able to get transferred to another, unpatched machine? Thanks

EDIT: I figured I would mention the reason I want to not update is because I have noticed many times in the past, including this new computer, that when I update there are many things that started to act up, or slow down. For instance, trying to type a search into youtube will freeze, and then a few seconds later will type out everything I wrote. This would NOT happen before updating.

EDIT 2: Just a note that I am using Windows 7.

  • Um, malware leverages exploits. Fixing exploits will limit many forms of malware. – schroeder Dec 26 '16 at 21:54
  • What are the chances of malware existing unknown on a machine that cannot be exploited, and then getting transferred to an exploitable machine? I was thinking that it could be possible, but I removed that section of my writing to make the question smaller. – XaolingBao Dec 26 '16 at 22:05
  • see my update to my answer - hint: worms – schroeder Dec 26 '16 at 22:16
  • Yeah, the issue is I've noticed some weird slow downs, usually on the internet. At first it was one site I noticed(figured site just had issues), but even youtube was having issues. However, I am having issues with my ssd and write speeds, so I don't know if it's maybe the SSD that's causing issues (but it all happened around the time I updated, and I've noticed this in the past with updates). Security is very important for sure, but I'm seeing what ways I can still be secure, without having the performance impacts. – XaolingBao Dec 26 '16 at 22:38
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For development machines, it is not uncommon to turn off updates so that you have a stable environment to test on ("what?!?! .Net got updated?!?!). If it is isolated and you control what connects to and is loaded on the machine, your risks are low. That said, I'd still want to have some sort of 'refresh' process to regularly reset the machine to a known-good state, in case some form of infection occurs.

This means, though, you need to really, really control the computer. Like, make sure you scan the files you want to transfer before transferring, etc.

As for malware transferring to another machine: if the malware gets installed on the first machine, then sees that it can't exploit the machine, do you think it just deletes itself? There are many types of malware that look for new machines on the network, or any new connected devices to transfer to. They are called worms.

  • Thanks. Would it be best to set up everything on a VM so that I can rollback and all that good stuff? I feel being protected is important, and even though there haven't been malware issues with developing on a machine that's been updated, but I have noticed slow downs and issues with that after updating, so I want to avoid that. – XaolingBao Dec 26 '16 at 22:02
  • I would very much recommend a VM for rollbacks. It also means you can test the effect of updates (then rollback if it causes problems). – schroeder Dec 26 '16 at 22:12
  • Thanks, I really don't know much about VM's in terms of which are good, do you have any recommendations or a link to some reading material on the subject? Also, I understand that malware isn't going to just delete itself, and that there are viruses and worms that propagate (I was actually going to ask a question on this the other day), but wasn't sure if there could be ways to protect against that propagation? I would assume a good AV program should detect a lot of these exploits, but there are probably a lot of wild ones still? I would still use an AV program on the closed machine though. – XaolingBao Dec 26 '16 at 22:19
  • Use the VM tech that meets your needs. That's about all I can say. They will all do the same basic function, but each has unique features that might attract you. Virtualbox has a snapshot function for rollbacks. As for worms: AV will help, but patching will also protect you. Just be aware of the possibility and prepare for possible infection (instead of worrying about how to prevent one). – schroeder Dec 26 '16 at 22:21
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    Always update the host machine. It will help protect the VM (and the host). Your plan is fine. It's actually pretty standard for development, as I say. As long as you keep tight controls (and update when you reasonably can). – schroeder Dec 26 '16 at 22:30
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If you don't connect the computer to internet then you can't run windows update. Now, if you plan to transfer files from an internet connected computer to that isolated computer, then it is at risk. A really low one, but it's possible

What I don't understand is why you need two computers, one outdated and partially isolated and one updated and connected to internet. IMO it's just better to have a virtual machine for development. And it's just a windows problem, in linux there are solutions such as linux containers or docker to solve this kind of problems

Also, you should be developing your software on an updated base. There is no sense in make software that only works on an outdated platform. Just avoid deprecated features and you should be ok

  • Most systems are upward compatible, Windows at least as much as average; an app developed on an older version usually works on a newer version, but an app developed on a newer version unless you are very careful often fails on an older version, sometimes totally and sometimes partially in ways that are very confusing to users. There is a tradeoff between supporting users who need or want to remain on older systems, and taking advantage of newer features that are usually (but not always!) better. But VM/container/etc to control an older version is certainly wise. – dave_thompson_085 Dec 27 '16 at 6:53
  • Yes, it's correct that I cannot run windows update if I cannot connect to the computer, but I could run it one time, and never connect again, or even get updates through a USB, so that's null. The point isn't to create software that's "on an outdated platform" the issue is related to me getting performance issues that I didn't experience before updating, that I noticed on multiple computers. I am most likely going to use a VM per yours and other suggestions, as that is probably the better approach all around. – XaolingBao Dec 27 '16 at 17:09

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