How To Uninstall A Microsoft Patch

As a last resort against buggy patches, here's how to remove an offending patch and then keep it off your PC.



It's been a tough 10 days for Microsoft, which has seen three of the five security bulletins released April 11 face resistance from users once they discovered the patches broke more than they fixed.

Microsoft has addressed one of the patch problems by promising to re-release MS05-015 next Tuesday; this critical patch for Windows Explorer has caused grief for a large number of users.

But others, like those facing empty Outlook Express address books, have no way around their problems other than removing the offending patch.

With Microsoft's recent record, users may occasionally need to uninstall security fixes until the Redmond, Wash. developer comes up with safe and easy workarounds, or re-releases a patch.

As a last resort, here's how to remove an offending patch, and then keep it off your PC:

--- From the Start menu, click Control Panel, then Add or Remove Programs.

--- Check the "Show updates" box.

--- Scroll to the bottom of the window, and locate the patch to uninstall. Microsoft labels the patches here by their corresponding Knowledgebase (KB) document number, so you'll need to nail that down. (The KB number is listed in the title of the security bulletin, and can most easily be found by browsing the Microsoft Security Bulletin Search site.)

--- Select the patch and click "Remove."

To make sure that your PC doesn't automatically reinstall the patch you've just removed, you must modify or disable Windows' Automatic Updates. Since the latter is akin to tossing out the baby with the bathwater, to change Automatic Updates:

--- From the Start menu, click Control Panel, then on Security Center.

--- Click on "Automatic Updates" under "Manage security settings for:"

--- Check either "Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them," or "Notify me but don't automatically download or install them." In the first instance, Windows will download the patch again, but you can later choose not to install it. In the second, you get to refuse the patch from even downloading.

--- When the already-uninstalled patch is next offered up by Automatic Updates, select the fix, expand the description by clicking on the "+" sign, then check "Don't show this update again." Windows will stop nagging you about it.

You'll need to stay on top of things, however, once you remove a patch. Ideally, you'll want to install a re-fix as soon as it's ready. But after you've implemented the above steps, you'll be in the dark, since Microsoft uses the original bulletin/patch name.

Keep track by regularly visiting the Microsoft Security Response Center blog, where the company's security gurus notify users of important changes.

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