IT Connect
Information technology tools and resources at the UW


Laptops, by definition, are often not directly connected to the network and may be used from almost any location.

How do I keep my laptop updated?
You have several options to make sure your laptop is secured and receives and applies all of the patches necessary to ensure its security:

1. Option One:
Leave the laptop on the network.

If you are able to keep your laptop powered up and on the network, it will receive all the necessary updates on the same schedule that your desktop computer does. This is the option with the least work for you.

If you only have one live network port in your office, you can purchase a device called a switch for under $100 that will let you share that port with both your desktop system and your laptop. Please contact your MWS support person for more information.

2. Option Two:
Log into the MWS network weekly.

    1. At least once a week, connect your unpowered laptop to the MWS network, power it up, and log into the network.
    2. Verify that you have a good network connection by opening either PC Pine or Internet Explorer; you should receive no error messages.
      • Merely logging in is not enough; if your laptop doesn’t find a network signal, it will still log you in, using saved [aka “cached”] information.
      • We recommend you use a known good ethernet cable. If you are using a wireless device which has not been configured to UW Information Technology standards, you’ll need to use the VPN (virtual private network) method to ensure you have a good connection. Talk to your support person about this option.
    3. Choose one of the following steps to ensure your patches are downloaded and installed:
      • Leave your laptop connected to the network and powered on, overnight. Whether you’re logged in or not doesn’t matter.
      • Wait 30 minutes, or until you see the balloon in the system tray (lower right hand corner of your screen). This balloon indicates that update have been downloaded; click on it to install them.
      • Wait 60 minutes, then reboot and login.After completing any one of the above steps, you can then log out, shut your machine off and remove it from the network.
3. Option Three:
Install the patches yourself from the Microsoft site.

If your laptop cannot be on the network regularly (where it will receive security updates from the MWS servers), then you must take a more active role in keeping your laptop secure. Please follow these procedures at least once a week and pick a day to be your Upgrade day, and keep your laptop updated and secure.


    1. From your home or travel site, connect to the Internet.
    2. Use Start – Windows Update to go to the MS Windows site.
    3. Click the “Scan for Updates” link, and accept any software that needs to be installed.
    4. In the left column, check the number in parentheses after “Critical Updates and Service Packs”. If it’s zero, you can close the Windows Update window; you’re done.
    5. If it’s not zero, click on “Review and install updates”, and then on “Install Now”.
    6. Accept any licensing agreements offered, and let the updates finish installing.
    7. Reboot the system if requested.
What do I miss if I don’t log into MWS network regularly?
While the methods described above will install critical Windows updates at times of your choosing, they won’t give you all the benefits of a MWS log-in, such as:

  • upgrades to your MWS programs; and
  • updates to your virus definition files.

Log into the MWS network at least once per month so that you get the other important updates that are part of the Managed Workstation service.

How do I use somebody else’s network?
Whenever you are not using the UW campus network, it is strongly recommended that you use the VPN (Virtual Private Network) service. The Nebula VPN allows a remote user to connect to the UW Network as if they were directly connected in their offices.

If your laptop detects a wireless network but is unable to connect to it, the login screen may linger for some time (possibly up to 20 minutes) before your system gives up and uses the ethernet connection. Webpine and Homer Pine should send mail correctly. If you get an error message sending mail via your desktop PC Pine, see the steps below.

What if I don’t have network access from where I am?
If you don’t have network access at home, or when you are on the road, you can dial into the University modem pool, and you’ll be given a connection to the Internet. (Use this link to find out more about dialing in.) You can follow the instructions given above to download your updates. Some of the larger updates may take longer to install; just let them run. Don’t worry if your connection is lost; just re-connect and go back to the Windows Update site using the instructions above. Any available updates will pick up where they left off.