I'm working on an hourly contract and Windows 10 decides now is a great time to start installing some updates and lock up completely. It takes me 10 minutes to reboot my system, re-open the software I was using, and get back to where I was before the computer froze. Do I include those 10 minutes in my hours worked for the day when billing the client?

edit: For those unfamiliar with Windows 10, you don't have control over when it downloads or begins to install updates. You only have control over when it reboots to finish installing updates that need a reboot. In this case the system froze while starting the install process, which forced me to reboot.


Absolutely not if the update was not crucial for this project! As always, we should not do updates during the productive phase. I personally always do updates on my non-productive machine first. But even then, I have been "out of business" for a few days because Google messed up something with its updates. Could I really charge 24 work hours to my client during those 3 days?

Simply inform the client what happened (only if it will take more time to fix it, like a few days) and fix the issue asap.

  • Windows 10 doesn't give you control over when it updates. Obviously being out of commission for 3 days can't be billed to a client. That's not really comparable to having to reboot your system. I am literally talking about a 10-minute period here, part of which is just opening up their project again.
    – user45623
    Aug 29 '15 at 20:56
  • 1
    such small periods should not be an issue. if I felt bad about charging them, I would not charge them. PS. you have control in Win10 or any other Win. You can set update preferences not to upload automatically, but manually. ;)
    – Peter MV
    Aug 30 '15 at 9:08
  • You ostensibly have limited control over when your computer restarts. You can't choose when to start downloading the updates, or installing updates that don't need a restart. Or rather, you can tell it "download any updates now" but not "don't download any updates until later", nor "don't download or install these specific updates"
    – user45623
    Aug 31 '15 at 6:54
  • 1
    On my Win machines, I set all to manual download and I choose what to download and install.
    – Peter MV
    Aug 31 '15 at 7:47
  • You have clearly never used Windows 10.
    – user45623
    Sep 1 '15 at 22:51

Were you working from your own system where you allowed the update? Then No.

Were you on the client's system and they had it set up to update automatically? Then yes. For 10 minutes I would. I would also inform the client.

If something happened that was taking a lot longer I would try to let the client know what was going on as soon as it started happening.

This is a tricky area because you don't want the client to be blindsided by the time/price, but if it's their system that they configured that is the problem, they can't expect you to sit there for free watching it reboot and freeze. If you have a service agreement you sign with clients, I would consider including something up front in that agreement explaining that you will bill for your time if things on their system that are beyond your control prevent you from completing the task, or take up time.

And/Or you can use this to your experience and next time you work on anyone else's system, check the windows update settings (and other things that you learn might slow you down) in advance.

  • If you aren't familiar with Windows 10, you have no control over when it updates. It was my system, but I didn't "allow" the update, it just happened.
    – user45623
    Aug 29 '15 at 20:52
  • Then I'm torn - If it cost you time on their project because of what you were doing when it happened I would bill for that time as it's part of the job. But I'm torn on the time Windows consumed: It's an unavoidable part of doing what they hired you to do (bill for it). Yet it has to happen for you to be in business regardless of their project - so it's like overhead time needed to run your business - like invoices and taxes (don't bill for it). Do you include time used to use the bathroom or grab some water when it occurs while you're working? I'd treat it like that.
    – Emily
    Aug 30 '15 at 19:00
  • Thanks for your thoughts. I was torn as well, hence posting this question :) . Treating it like a quick trip to the bathroom or for a drink/snack was my best thinking too. Normally I won't stop the clock in those cases unless it takes unusually long. If this kind of problem comes up again (and hopefully it won't) I'll consider whether I could cram in a drink or snack break at the same time - or maybe even look at any new emails from the client on my phone while I'm waiting.
    – user45623
    Aug 31 '15 at 6:59
  • 1. Yes, you can control it. Super User has a few questions about editing the schedule/frequency it checks for, downloads and installs updates. 2. I charge for idle time, but at a reduced rate (if the system is in my shop getting fixed); if I'm on site, still charge the full amount, as they're paying for my time as well.
    – Canadian Luke
    Aug 31 '15 at 16:44
  • It's not officially supported in the UI. Maybe you can adjust it with registry tweaks I'm not familiar with, but I don't think it's reasonable to expect anyone to be making adjustments in the OS innards to save 10 minutes once in a blue moon.
    – user45623
    Sep 1 '15 at 22:55

Yes you do bill.

For a ten minutes delay, it is unreasonable to expect that you can switch to another activity.

  • That's a good point.
    – Emily
    Sep 23 '15 at 18:34

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