Is keeping your computers software updated important? The short answer is, yes. Updates are important for a variety of reasons and the importance of keeping your computer up to date should not be overlooked. With that said, I bring you and write on Software Updates – The Why And How.
Keeping your computer software up to date can:
- Improve performance and stability
- Patch and fix security vulnerabilities
Without updating, your computer will be more susceptible to malware and virus infections as well as overall performance issues. Updates work on patching security flaw and vulnerabilities in your computer and software. They also can help improve the functionality of your overall computer. For example, updating your videos drivers usually yield big performance increases, especially if you are using photo editing or rendering applications.
However, it should be noted that there may be a few reasons to delay software updates. Sometimes installing updates, whether it is an OS, software, or driver update, can affect the functionality of your computer. If you have an IT Department or MSP managing your devices you will not have to worry. For example, at Diligex, we perform a variety of software update activities daily, nightly and weekly. A good IT Department or MSP will test updates before rolling them out to ensure everything continues to run smoothly. However, if you are doing computer software updates on your own there are a few things you should be aware of before processing updates:
- If you are running any specialized software make sure any updates are tested to ensure there are no compatibility issues. You may also want to verify that updating will not take your software out of license agreements or out of supported OS prerequisites
- If you are running older legacy hardware (example: an older printer/scanner, etc.) then updating related drivers might cause these to become unstable and unusable.
In these cases, you may want to halt and suspend any updates that may have compatibility issue or lead to instability.
Updating Your Computer
Your computer should inform you when its operating system has an update available. If it doesn’t, or you don’t want to wait for your machine to notify you, there are ways to manually check for updates for your OS. This is a simple thing to do and can be done at any time. Here are the steps to check for updates on Apple macOS and Microsoft Windows.
Apple releases updates to your macOS software on a regular basis. These include updates to apps that come with your Mac and important security updates. To download and install macOS updates do the following:
Click on the Apple menu (the Apple logo on the top left) > System Preferences, then click Software Update.
On the “Software Update” page you will see pending updates that are available for your mac. You can click on “Update Now” to download and install these updates. If there are no pending updates you will see a message “Your Mac is up to date.” You can also set you Mac to automatically install macOS updates on the “Software Update” page by checking the box for “Automatically keep my Mac up to date.” Note: MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air must have the power adapter plugged in to automatically download updates.
macOS also release version upgrades, which at the time of this writing is macOS Catalina. These can be upgraded on the same “Software Update” page. Make sure to check your Hardware compatibility on the Apple site first to see if your hardware is supported for the next major version release as some older hardware may not be supported.
A quick note before we delve into Windows updates. The latest version of Windows from Microsoft is Windows 10. The older versions of Windows, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, have already reached or are currently reaching their end of life date. Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. Microsoft will end support for Windows 8.1 on January 10, 2023. If you are currently running Windows 7 or 8.1 It is imperative that you upgrade to Windows 10.
To download and install Windows updates do the following:
Select the Start button, and then go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update. In the “Windows Update” page, click on “Check for Updates.” If Windows Update says your device is up to date, you do not need any updates.
Per Microsoft “Feature updates for Windows 10 are released twice a year, around March and September, via the Semi-Annual Channel.” At the time of this writing the latest feature update is Windows 10 ver. 2004.
For the most part your applications will be set to update automatically. However, like OS updates, you can check for updates manually. Because of the vast number of different apps available, we will include the most popular applications in this section:
Firefox is set to update automatically by default. To check for updates manually:
Open a new tab, click on the settings gear at the top right. In the Settings page click on the “General” Heading and scroll down to “Firefox Updates,” From here you will see the option to “Check for updates”
Just like Firefox, Chrome is set to update automatically by default. To check for updates manually:
- On your computer, open Chrome
- At the top right, click More (the three vertical dots)
- Click Help and then About “Google Chrome”
The current version number is the series of numbers beneath the ‘Google Chrome’ heading. Chrome will check for updates when you are on this page. To apply any available updates, click Relaunch.
Updates for Safari are included in macOS updates. The most recent version of macOS includes the most recent version of Safari. To update Safari, you must update the latest macOS updates
- Open any Microsoft Office application
- Go to the File tab and then click on “Account”
- Click on “Update Options” and choose “Update Now”
- A window will appear with instructions on how to apply any available updates
Mac OS X
- Open any Office for Mac application
- Go to Help > Check for Updates
- You will be able to choose whether you want to check for updates manually or automatically
Computer Driver Updates
Most of the drivers on your Mac will be updated when you update your macOS as Apple handles the updates for your Mac, but there are some drivers that may have to be updated manually. These can include specific printer drivers, audio drivers, and in cases where Apple’s generic drivers will not work. To update these drivers, check your device’s manual or the vendor/manufacturer’s website for the latest updated driver for macOS. For example, if you need to install a color enhancing print driver for your Ricoh copier then it you will need to look on the Ricoh site for the driver in question.
Like Apple, most drivers for Windows are automatically downloaded and installed through Windows Update. But for computer specific drivers/firmware, like a BIOS firmware or a driver for a docking station, will not be updated through Windows updates. Some manufactures have built in applications to help download and install these updates. For example, Dell computers have an app called “Dell Update” which automatically updates critical fixes and important device drivers as they become available. Like Dell both HP and Lenovo have their own application, HP’s “HP Support Assistant” and Lenovo’s “System Update.” You can run these applications at any time to check for updates.
Apart from the update applications, you can also visit the manufacture’s site, e.g. Dell.com, and search for your computer’s drivers. Make sure to have your serial number or service tag for your computer on hand as you will need it to get the drivers for your specific model of computer.
In conclusion, whether you have a PC or a laptop, or a Windows or a Mac, keeping your computer software up to date should be a priority. If your Business has a Managed Service Provider (MSP) or an IT Department, this will be done on a regular basis. However, if your business does not have an MSP or you if have personal devices in your home, then you will need to take on the role of keeping your computers up to date.