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SECURING YOUR WINDOWS NETWORK / HOW-TO GEEK SCHOOL

How-To Geek

Lesson 8: Keep Your System Updated for Security and Stability

Network Security

Another important step in securing any computer or device is setting up automated updates. Your device’s security relies on your operating system, apps, plug-ins, and programs always being up to date. For example, using outdated Internet browsers and plug-ins like Adobe Flash, Java, or Silverlight represents a big security problem. There are many websites on the Internet that exploit security bugs in your browser or the plug-ins you have installed.

Also, popular programs like Adobe Reader are heavily targeted by malware creators, and there are many forms of malware that infect your system through the use of specially crafted PDF files. Therefore, in order to keep your system’s security at good levels and have as few issues as possible, you should keep your apps, plug-ins, and programs up-to-date.

Luckily, there are tools that will help you with this task. First, you have Windows Update which keeps the operating system up-to-date and can be set to automatically install updates also for Microsoft software like Microsoft Office or Silverlight. You will learn how to do this in this lesson.

If you use Windows 8.x and modern apps, the Windows Store is set to keep your apps updated automatically. You can also use it to manually check for updates and installed. You will learn how this works from this lesson.

Last, but not least, there are solutions like Ninite which help in keeping your favorite desktop programs up-to-date, as well as the plug-ins we have mentioned earlier: Adobe Air, Java, etc. We will end this lesson by sharing how to use Ninite to keep these programs up-to-date.

Set Windows Update to Keep Microsoft Software Up-to-Date

One of the most important steps in keeping your system secure is to leave Windows Update turned on and working on a regular basis. Each week Microsoft delivers fixes for all kinds of problems, including lots of security hotfixes. Without them, the operating system is vulnerable to all kinds of attacks and malware. Since Windows Update is turned on and working by default, we won’t spend any time sharing how to use it. It literally does its job in the background.

However, we do want to show you how to set it so that it delivers updates automatically for other Microsoft software that is installed on your device. For example, updates for Microsoft Office or Silverlight. They are just as important in keeping your device safe from harm.

First, let’s see how you do this on a Desktop with Windows 7 or Windows 8.x. Open the Control Panel and go to “System and Security,” and then to “Windows Update.”

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In the Windows Update window, click the link that says, “Change settings,” on the left-hand column.

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In order to maximize the security of your system and get all the updates that are available, we recommend that you enable the following settings:

  • Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates – this will make sure that both recommended and important updates are installed automatically.
  • Give me updates for other Microsoft products when I update Windows – this will enable the distribution of updates for software products made by Microsoft, including Microsoft Office and the Silverlight plugin.

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Only in Windows 8.x you can also set the hour when all updates are automatically downloaded. In order to change it, click the link that says, “Updates will be automatically installed during the maintenance window.”

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The “Automatic Maintenance” window is opened. This is where you set when the automatic maintenance is performed by Windows 8.x. The automatic maintenance includes downloading and installing Windows updates, making a secure scan of your system, and performing automated system diagnostics including the Action Center checks that were mentioned in the previous lesson. Unfortunately, this feature doesn’t exist in Windows 7.

Change the hour when you want the maintenance tasks to be run daily and click “OK.”

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Don’t forget to also click “OK” in the “Change Settings” window so that updates for Microsoft software are also installed.

If you have a tablet with Windows 8.x, then you can configure Windows Update also from PC Settings. Open it and then go to, “Update and recovery.”

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Select “Windows Update” and then tap the link that says, “Choose how updates get installed.”

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We recommend that you enable the following settings:

  • Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates – this will make sure that both recommended and important updates are installed automatically.
  • Give me updates for other Microsoft products when I update Windows – this will enable the distribution of updates for software products made by Microsoft, including Microsoft Office and the Silverlight plugin.

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Tap “Apply” so that you settings are saved and Windows Update also delivers updates for Microsoft products.

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Ciprian Adrian Rusen is an experienced technology writer and author with several titles published internationally by Microsoft Press. You can connect with him on 7 Tutorials, Twitter, and Google+ or even buy his books on Amazon.

  • Published 06/4/14