Usually these updates fix various security issues or bugs in Windows that have been found by Microsoft or by security professionals working in the IT industry. Microsoft currently release updates for their Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems – Windows XP is no longer updated by Microsoft. You can read the boring stuff about the Microsoft Security Bulletin here.
Organisations will usually manage these updates centrally, testing them in-house first to ensure that they don’t conflict with other software, and then distributing them to all the computers in the enterprise. This is what we do at Ivanhoe Grammar School with the IT Services Department pushing out the relevant updates to staff and student notebooks. If you have a notebook computer supplied by your company chances are you don’t have to do anything.
But for your Windows PC at home you should check to ensure that your computer is being updated by following these easy steps:
- Go to Control Panel.
- Double click on Windows Update.
- Click Check for updates. This will check your computer against the Windows Update site and see what is required.
- If there are updates you will see a list of important updates and a second list of optional updates. You should select all the important updates. The optional updates are often driver updates or Language Packs – you can choose whether to install these or not.
- Click Install updates to start the download and install process.
- Go for a walk, have a coffee, come back in 30 minutes!
- When the updates are finished you will probably have to restart your computer to finish the installs.
The good news is that you can automate this whole process by clicking on the option Change Settings. This will allow you to set a time when updates are downloaded and installed silently – all you will receive is a notification to restart your computer. The setting to change here is the time to install new updates. On my computer the default is 3.00am. Clearly most of us are not up at this time of the day with our computers on, so I would change this to 7.00pm.
If you have an Apple Mac computer please don’t think that you can sit back and relax either! Apple routinely release rather large updates for their computers and you should check for updates regularly.
- Go to the Apple Menu (top left).
- Select Software Update.
- This will load the updater which will check for the latest updates. It also checks other Apple software such as iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, Garageband etc.
- Ensure that the updates are selected and click Install.
- As with Windows this make take some time to download and install, and you will probably need to restart the Mac.
At the same time you should ensure that your Anti-virus software is up-to-date too. We have a post on this already.