Maintenance window
In information technology
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

 and systems management
Systems management
Systems management refers to enterprise-wide administration of distributed systems including computer systems. Systems management is strongly influenced by network management initiatives in telecommunications....

, a maintenance window is a period of time designated in advance by the technical staff, during which preventive maintenance
Preventive maintenance
Preventive maintenance has the following meanings:#The care and servicing by personnel for the purpose of maintaining equipment and facilities in satisfactory operating condition by providing for systematic inspection, detection, and correction of incipient failures either before they occur or...

 that could cause disruption of service may be performed.

High availability services

For a high-availability service, such as an Internet hosting service
Internet hosting service
An Internet hosting service is a service that runs Internet servers, allowing organizations and individuals to serve content to the Internet. There are various levels of service and various kinds of services offered....

 or Internet service provider
Internet service provider
An Internet service provider is a company that provides access to the Internet. Access ISPs directly connect customers to the Internet using copper wires, wireless or fiber-optic connections. Hosting ISPs lease server space for smaller businesses and host other people servers...

, the purpose of stating a time period in advance is to allow clients of the service to prepare for possible disruption or prepare for any major changes to the functioning of the service. This type of disclosure is typically guaranteed as part of a service level agreement
Service Level Agreement
A service-level agreement is a part of a service contract where the level of service is formally defined. In practice, the term SLA is sometimes used to refer to the contracted delivery time or performance...


High-availability maintenance windows are often planned for a time where activity is at its lowest so as to cause minimal disruption to customers, though which also require unusual work schedules for the employees. An ISP for example may schedule a maintenance window for Sunday from 1 AM to 5 AM.

Managed business computers

In schools and businesses with more than approximately 50-200 desktop computers, the information technology
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

 staff may use management software to automatically install software updates during off-hours when the school or business is closed or at low activity.

Such scheduled updates can include Windows Update
Windows Update
Windows Update is a service provided by Microsoft that provides updates for the Microsoft Windows operating system and its installed components, including Internet Explorer...

s, antivirus software
Antivirus software
Antivirus or anti-virus software is used to prevent, detect, and remove malware, including but not limited to computer viruses, computer worm, trojan horses, spyware and adware...

 definition updates, software version upgrades for Adobe Flash
Adobe Flash
Adobe Flash is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to web pages. Flash is frequently used for advertisements, games and flash animations for broadcast...

, Adobe Reader, Apple QuickTime
QuickTime is an extensible proprietary multimedia framework developed by Apple Inc., capable of handling various formats of digital video, picture, sound, panoramic images, and interactivity. The classic version of QuickTime is available for Windows XP and later, as well as Mac OS X Leopard and...

, Sun Java
Java (programming language)
Java is a programming language originally developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems and released in 1995 as a core component of Sun Microsystems' Java platform. The language derives much of its syntax from C and C++ but has a simpler object model and fewer low-level facilities...

, and so forth. By performing these updates during the night, the computers are not slowed down by trying to perform updates randomly during the day when employees are working with computers.

Where disk protection software such as Faronics
- Company Profile :Faronics Corporation is a privately held software company with offices in Vancouver, BC, Canada, San Ramon, CA, USA, and Bracknell, UK. Faronics develops computer software for multi-user IT environments...

 Deep Freeze
Deep Freeze (software)
Deep Freeze, by Faronics, is an application available for the Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and SUSE Linux operating systems which allows system administrators to protect the core operating system and configuration files on a workstation or server by restoring a computer back to its original...

is used, protective services such as a scheduled system scan at each reboot can be turned off, thereby accelerating the boot process for users during the day. Instead, a full virus scan is scheduled during the maintenance window, but is unneeded at each startup.

Using a maintenance window requires increased specialization of skill of the IT staff, and requires a certain amount of time set up, test, and deploy. For small businesses with only a few employees, it may be simpler to just go around and manually apply updates at each computer, rather than spending hours trying to set up deployment through a maintenance window.
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