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Are Windows Updates Necessary?

Helen from Saugerties NY writes:

I was wondering if you have to install all the windows updates? Every time I do I have problems when the computer start up.

Excellent question, Helen. Anyone who’s recently used a computer with the Windows operating system on it is most likely familiar with the little pop-up window reminding them to update. Many people tend to ignore these little reminders, which can be detrimental to your computer’s health. The Windows patches and updates that are periodically available contain security updates and other pieces of software to help your computer run quicker, function more efficiently and resist attempts by hackers.

So, to answer the question “Are Windows updates necessary?” — the answer is yes.

Determining Whether Updates Are Available

The first step in updating your version of Windows is to determine if there are updates available. If you have not updated in a while, or you’ve never updated, chances are there will be quite a few updates to install.  To check for updates, make sure your computer is connected to the Internet then launch Internet Explorer. Go to the Tools menu and click on Windows Update to be taken to the update page. From here, you’ll be able to see which updates are currently available for your computer. You have the opportunity to install all the updates, or you can pick and choose the ones you want to install.

If you choose to only perform certain updates, make sure you read the descriptions of each update to determine if it is a critical update or not. At the very minimum, you should install all of the critical updates. You may want to consider setting your computer up for automatic updates, that way the updates will automatically be downloaded and installed. This eliminates the possibility that you’ll forget to perform these updates on a regular basis.

Why These Updates Are Necessary

Microsoft is constantly searching for and eliminating any vulnerabilities it can find in its operating systems. These vulnerabilities open up your computer to hackers, who could potentially steal your information and your identity. Each month, Microsoft releases updates and security patches that remove these vulnerabilities and make your computer safer. Additionally, these patches and updates will fix newly discovered problems or glitches within the operating system that may be slowing your computer down or causing it to lock up on you. Not installing the updates could cause your computer to be sluggish. Some Windows updates even add new functionality or features, so there’s a chance you could be missing out on some great new tools or features by not updating your operating system.

You should make a habit of routinely updating your Windows operating system, or if you’d prefer not to think about it, opt for automatic updating. This will install the majority of the updates and patches without any intervention from you, although from time to time an update may need your attention to proceed. You’ll get a notification in the task bar if this happens. If you’re skeptical about allowing Microsoft to automatically install updates, add checking for updates to your monthly computer maintenance routine along with updating your virus definitions and scanning and defragging your hard disk.

Hope this helps!

~Chad Stetson