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The Xbox has existed in some form since 2001, and Microsoft has made several changes or improvements to the console since its initial version came on the scene. Since then, Xbox itself has become a global gaming brand just as much as a series of consoles. The current generation is the fourth one, and it contains the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X versions of the console.

Regardless of which device you might be using, most Xbox devices need updates from time to time. These could be updates to the system itself, or they could be updates that developers and publishers need to roll out with various games.

In either case, users will need to download these updates over an internet connection before they can use anything again. The console may ask for an update the next time a gamer turns it on, or a specific title may request one the next time they load the game.

Because the updates can be large or take some time to download, some players wonder why the sizes need to be so substantial, particularly given that some updates are smaller than whole game files. We will discuss this topic, and we’ll also address why some consoles from the Xbox line seem to update quite frequently.

After that, we will get into ways you might be able to skip or postpone certain updates, what you can do if you find yourself stuck on the progress bar of an update with no resolution, and whether you might be able to play any games without updating them first.

Depositphotos_469112582_S oystick controller for playing on the new xbox series x console.


Why Are Xbox Updates So Big?

Xbox updates can be quite large, and this can apply to both the system updates and the game updates. For the system updates, the size you get might be based partially on the frequency with which you use the console.

Whenever Microsoft wants to implement new core features for the Xbox, it asks for a system update the next time you turn it on. It is not uncommon for some of these updates to be at least several hundred megabytes in size.

This can take a bit of time to download on slower connections, but you may have noticed that there are larger system files you need to get, too.

If you seem to need system updates that are a few gigabytes in size, it is probably because you haven’t used the console in a while. Some of the system updates the company has wanted to roll out have now piled up, and the console is trying to update the firmware to have it run the latest versions of everything all at once.

Although there is not a set schedule for Xbox system updates, it might be a good rule of thumb to turn on the console at least once per month.

This can give you a good cushion for checking out whether Microsoft has decided to add a system update for more features or changes. In doing so, you should be able to keep the size of these updates to a more manageable number.

Game updates are another matter, and there is no way to tell when you might need to update a title you are interested in playing. Such updates should happen more frequently with new games that need fixes or patches of any kind, but they can still be large. Many updates to games are several gigabytes, although smaller changes may not need this much space.

You’ll be met with a request to update your game whenever you try to launch it while your console is connected to Xbox Live and the title has a pending update. Additionally, you can go to the appropriate section in your Xbox’s settings to check to see which games might need updates before you launch them. If you do, you have the option to queue them up to download in sequence while you’re doing other things on the console.

Why Does Xbox Update So Much?

Some Xbox consoles seem to update much more frequently than others. Because updates don’t let you use the devices until they are complete, this can be frustrating to users who encounter it too often.

The reasons here have more to do with different programs more so than the device itself. If you find that your console updates more often than seems normal, it could be because you are in the Xbox Insider Program.

The Xbox Insider program is a particular type of preview program that allows participating users to get Xbox updates while they are still in beta test mode or not yet released to the rest of the user base.

Because the developers at Xbox might be working on nearly constant fixes or improvements to how the system’s software works and then releasing that content in beta form, gamers in this program may find that they get updates often.

If you are not part of this program, you should find that you don’t get updates more than once a month or so, although this is just a general estimate. You may still get system updates on a slightly more frequent basis, and it could be several months before your next one.

If you would like to try getting fewer system updates, you can leave the Xbox Insider program. This will ensure that you only get the updates that are already tested and approved for wider release. Within the program, you may have access to different tiers, and lower tiers get updates less often than their counterparts in the higher ones.

As we touched on already, game updates are most frequent during the initial weeks and months following a new release. It is not uncommon to need a day one update right after the game launches. For the most part, these updates address bugs, balancing issues, broken features, and other things that the developers need to fix in order to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.

However, you may notice some games asking for updates for well over a year after they release. In most cases, this will be because of the nature of the games.

Many titles have a regular schedule of add-on content that is added to the major portion of the game at specific times. This can be particularly true for games that function mainly as online multiplayer experiences.

In order to enhance the longevity of these titles, developers will add new updates or content on a regular basis. Depending on what is changed, some of these updates can be very large or frequent.

Can You Skip an Xbox Update?

The answer here depends on which kind of update you might mean. If it is a system update, you won’t be able to skip it once you turn the Xbox on. Most Xboxes connect to the online services as soon as they boot up, and this is how you would get the system update.

If your console is not connected, you may be able to use it without applying an update. As these changes are meant to improve stability and convenience, it is recommended that you try to get them as soon as you can, especially if they are no longer in beta form.

For game updates, you can skip them if you are not playing online. In order to make sure of this, you would have to go to your console’s settings and make sure that you disconnect it from Xbox Live.

Effectively, this would do the same thing as unplugging the console from the internet, but you won’t have to mess with any wires.

Furthermore, you would have to set your console to not keep games up-to-date automatically. If this option is selected, games that need updates will get them from the internet in the background whenever the console is on or in sleep mode.

If you do make both of these changes, you can skip some of the updates that game might have available. When you do want to go back online or update a title, you may need to download much larger file sizes, however.

Why Is My Xbox Stuck Updating at 100%? (Solved!)

An Xbox stuck at a full update bar that doesn’t go away may indicate corrupt files somewhere in the system. The first thing you can try is to do a simple restart of the console. This may restart the update as well, but it could get rid of the problem.

If it does not, you may need to do a full reset of the console without touching your games or apps.

To do this, you can navigate to ‘System’ from the Xbox’s settings and look for ‘Console Info’. From here, tell the device that you want to perform a reset. Or you could press the Xbox logo on the controller for a few seconds until the console goes off.

Can You Play an Xbox Game Without Updating It?

Yes, it is possible to play a game without updating it. To do so, you’ll have to follow the rules we mentioned above about staying off of Xbox Live and forbidding your games from updating by themselves. If you do, you should be able to launch a title without it asking you for an update.

Once done, you should be able to play it in offline mode. This can work for many titles, but some games are online-only, and you will need connectivity in order to boot them up at all. Therefore, some game updates are not things you can skip.

It is also important to remember that you may have some issues with syncing or accessing certain save files if you flip between online and offline modes.


Xbox updates can seem large to some players, but they are mostly about improving the overall experience for everyone. These improvements can relate to how each console functions, how fair online gaming is for everyone, or add new, exciting features to your favorite single-player titles. While there is some chance that a system or game update can get stuck, you can reset the console or cancel a game download and try again. If necessary, there are ways to hold off some game updates, too.