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Why Windows 10 wants to automatically restart

Q: Why does Windows always want to restart after it downloads updates? Do I have to restart? Why do some software updates not require the whole computer to be restarted?

A: Big system-software updates for Windows and Mac (as well as for Android, iOS and other devices) typically involve multiple steps. The first step is to download the update from the company’s servers, which can take several hours if the software is several gigabytes in size and you have a slow internet connection. Once the update has downloaded, another program takes over to install the new software.

When the computer is up and running, its operating system files are in use. If the software update includes security patches and improvements to other parts of the operating system code, Windows needs to shut down everything first by restarting the computer. This action frees up the files it needs to add, remove or replace as part of the update process.

In the quest for up-to-date security and system software, Windows 10 has been aggressive about automatically downloading updates and installing them – even if doing so disrupts work and forces the computer to restart in the middle of a project. But to fully install the system updates, the computer must restart at some point. (Setting up your Active Hours preferences in the Settings app can give you a say on when the mandatory restarts should occur.) Temporarily switching to a metered connection in the Network settings can stop the automatic downloads for the time being, but puts the computer more at risk if security updates are pending.

Not every software update requires the computer to restart. App updates and other code fixes that do not require access to any active system files install themselves without disruption.

Saving Voicemail from the iPhone

Q: Recently, my brother passed away. In the months leading to his death, he left me a series of voice messages on my iPhone describing his health, his wishes, etc. I would like to archive these recordings somewhere other than on my phone. Is there a way to transfer voice messages to the computer?

A: If your iPhone is running at least iOS 9 and you have the Visual Voicemail feature enabled on it, you can save, store or share those voicemail recordings with a couple of screen taps. Just open the phone app, select the Voicemail tab and choose a message you would like to preserve. When the message file opens to show the playback controls and additional caller information, tap the Share icon at the top-right side of the screen.

The Sharing screen shows all the apps and places you can put a copy of the voicemail message. For example, you can attach it to an email or text message, save it to a Note file, make a Voice Memo from the recording or store it on any connected file-storage services you use – such as iCloud, OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox.

If you have a compatible Mac, you can also wirelessly beam the file from phone to computer with Apple’s AirDrop feature. When you save the file to your computer, you can play the recording back in iTunes, Windows Media Player or another audio program that supports .m4a (Advanced Audio Coding, or AAC) files.

For phones not running iOS 9 or later, there are other ways to copy the voicemail messages to a computer. You could connect the phone to the computer with a 3.5 mm auxiliary audio cable and use the free Audacity sound-editing software to make recordings of the messages. You can also use programs such as iExplorer or iMazing or services such as Everlasting Voice. Your wireless carrier may have other solutions.

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