If you’re moving from XP to Windows 7, you probably know that keeping the OS and other software updated is very important for patching security holes and improving performance. Today we take a look at methods to keep your software and hardware up to date.
The Windows Update feature had come a long way since the days of XP and is much improved in Vista and Windows 7. To access Windows Updates type Windows Update into the search bar in the Start menu.
In the new Windows Update it’s easier to review, install, manage, and check updates. It also shows updates for MS Office products without having to check them separately.
It would be nice if it gave detailed info versus a generalized description to save time. But if you aren’t sure about an update or want to find out more information, click the link in the right column.
It brings you to the MS site where you can read up more on what you’re installing.
Some updates will require that you agree to a MS EULA.
Some updates will require a system reboot, but you’ll have the option to postpone the restart for a few hours or until you reboot manually.
It also allows changing the settings for how Windows installs updates from completely automatic to turning them off and settings in between. Important updates should be enabled by default on a pre-installed system but if you want to make sure you can select that option here.
It’s also easier to uninstall Windows Updates if one breaks another application or makes the system unstable. They’re listed in their own section and you can right click and select Uninstall.
To stop seeing unwanted updates, highlight them, right-click and select Hide updates. If you want to install them later you can always restore them.
Update Third Party Apps
Keeping Windows updated is very important, but it doesn’t end there. You also want to make sure your other applications are updated as well, and not just for the reasons of stability and new features. Security holes can pop up in common third party applications like Adobe, Flash, Java…etc.
You can certainly go through each app individually and check for updates, but that can be tedious and you may not remember to update them all. To save time, use a utility like Secunia Personal Software Inspector which will check apps installed on your computer for updates. The really neat thing is that it also provides direct links to patches and updates for you to download and install. You can also set it to run in the background for continuous monitoring for updates.
Another popular and free solution is Belarc Advisor. It won’t actually update problems for you, but it gives a detailed report and points you to where updates can be found.
Hardware Driver Updates
Keeping your drivers up to date is important for system stability and performance. With newer hardware I have noticed Windows Update will sometimes include new driver versions, but not for everything. You can check out your computer manufacturers website to check for new updates for your hardware.
Some computer manufacturers include a utility to check for your system updates that you can run from time to time.
Or you can use a utility like DriverMax which will find updates for your drivers and will also backup and restore them.
Other Update Tips
If you have any Apple apps on your system such as iTunes, it includes its own software update utility. You might want to monitor these updates closely because they tend to add a bunch of unwanted apps during an update.
It should go without saying to update your Antivirus program, but it is surprising how often this can be overlooked.
By keeping Windows, drivers, and other software updated you will keep your system secure and running smooth.
Programmer by day, geek by night, The Geek, also known as Lowell Heddings, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on Google+ if you'd like.
- Published 11/3/09