What Are Windows Optional Updates, and How Do You Install Them?

Apart from the automatic updates that Windows receives every now and then, there are some optional driver updates that do not automatically install on your device. As Microsoft considers them optional, you are not obligated to install them and don’t have to in most cases.

In this article, we’ll explain the optional updates, how they’re helpful, when you should install them, and how to install or revert them in Windows.

What Are Optional Updates?

In the Windows Update service, optional updates are additional updates, usually provided by the manufacturer, that don’t automatically install. As their name implies, they are not required for the proper operation of your computer. They can, however, prove helpful in resolving unforeseen problems.

To understand how optional updates differ from regular automatic updates that you receive periodically, understanding the context is essential.

Up until the start of 2020, all updates coming from both manufacturers and Microsoft used to get installed automatically. Microsoft’s operating system updates used to be thoroughly tested, so users did not have to worry about them.

However, drivers from manufacturers sometimes used to contain serious security vulnerabilities and cause many problems in the past.

For instance, one driver update prevented people from accessing their connected phones or portable devices, as reported on the Microsoft Community forum. A few users have experienced issues with the resolution they reported in this Microsoft Community forum thread.


Likewise, another update messed up the location of users’ files and folders, according to another thread on the Microsoft Community forum. There were many more similar problems that plagued Windows users.

To address this issue, Microsoft allowed manufacturers to mark a few updates as optional or manual while uploading them to Windows Update after Feb 2020. These manual updates are now available in the Windows Update optional updates section.

Should You Install Optional Windows Updates?

Since manufacturers still mark all critical updates as automatic and install them independently, which keeps your computer up and running, there is no need to install optional updates often.

If you experience specific issues with your hardware, such as the touchpad not functioning smoothly, the mouse cursor lagging, your laptop not reading external hard drives, etc., you may find an optional update that may address these problems.

Only in this scenario are optional updates helpful. Hence, you should only go for optional updates if a specific issue doesn’t resolve after implementing the general fixes. If not, steer clear.

How to Find and Install Windows Optional Updates

To locate optional updates, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the Windows Start button.
  2. Click on Settings.
  3. Go to Update & Security.
  4. Navigate to the Windows Update tab in the left sidebar.
  5. Click on the View all optional updates in the right-hand pane.

You’ll find a list of optional Windows and Driver updates here. To install them, check the boxes and click Download and install.

The update will be downloaded, and Windows will install it for you. You will then be asked to restart the computer. When you do that, the update will take effect.

Optional updates would usually improve the performance of your device in most cases, but if you begin experiencing issues after installing an optional update, don’t waste any time and revert it. We have an article that explains how to revert a Windows update if you’ve never done this before.

Install Optional Updates Only When Needed

By now, you should know why Windows keeps some updates optional and how to install them when needed. Use them when you get stuck with a specific hardware issue, and keep a mile away from them when your device is fully functional.

Ever experienced slowdowns after a Windows update? You can speed it up by reverting an update, running an SFC scan, performing a clean boot, and a few more fixes.

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