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Posted on Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 1:24 p.m.

Software update shuts down thousands of University of Michigan Health System, Medical School computers

By Tina Reed

University of Michigan officials are working to find a major computer fix after nearly a third of Health System and Medical School computers went down around 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

An update to a computer virus protection program from McAfee was being pushed out onto the system when it was discovered the update conflicted with the Windows operating system on the computers, a spokeswoman for the university said.

U-M was just one major institution among thousands of users impacted Wednesday when the McAfee antivirus software update was found to misidentify a harmless file. The problem affected users of the Window XP operating system.

• See the Twitter buzz about the problem at

U-M computer staff members were able to remotely stop the update before it affected additional users, U-M spokeswoman Kara Gavin said.

In all, about 8,000 of 25,000 computers in the system were taken offline by the problem, she said.

No patient care was was compromised Wednesday as the computers went down because enough computers remained up and running to perform necessary functions, she said. Some areas did have to use paper or share computers.

A call to McAfee was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

Gavin said she was not sure when the problem would be fixed and computers would be restored to normal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tina Reed covers health and the environment for You can reach her at, call her at 734-623-2535 or find her on Twitter @TreedinAA.



Thu, Apr 22, 2010 : 4:03 p.m.

In fact, yes, it is very important to get updates out as fast as possible with most software, and virus protection software especially. It would be ridiculously difficult to test every one, on every computer variant. However, in other articles, it seemed to devolve into Mac vs PC bashing. McAfee, in our tests, has been a good product with a long history of working well, with literally thousands of updates. Norton, in my experience, is the crapware. But hey, we all have opinions. What the takeaways from this situation should be: 1. Vista, Win7, Windows Server versions, MacOS, and Linux were all fine, so upgrade if you can to avoid this in the future. 2. Homogeneity at the computer level is a bad thing. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. 3. It's better that it was not an actual attack, as we thought for a bit. This was a good practice run. Now how do we prepare for next time?

Basic Bob

Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 8:08 p.m.

I'm amazed that so many large businesses use this McCrappee antivirus software. This horrible software has forced me to reload a few machines. I will stick with Norton. And how about all the blind squirrels in the IT department? Was it so important that they push out this update to all users without testing it on the most common configuration - Windows XP Pro?


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 3:35 p.m.

An email we got from out IT department said it affected only XP run machines. Vista and Windows 7 are OK.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 2:30 p.m.

EMU is affected too.

Rob T

Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 1:27 p.m.

Slashdot gives a few extra details about the problem: