Keep up to date with Windows Update

4/28/2012 9:09:19 AM

Get to grips with Windows Update and make sure your PC has the latest fixes and updates.

Updating Windows regularly is important to keep your PC free of errors and secure from any potential threats. You may only ever see Windows updating when you shut your PC down, but this isn’t the only time you can update your machine. Not only will Windows Update find the latest additions for your operating system, but it will also update Microsoft products, including Microsoft Office and third-party drivers. If, like me, you have the Automatic Updates setting turned on, then you may think that you don’t have to do anything. This isn’t always the case though, as I recently found out. To my surprise, I had downloaded but not installed Windows 7 Service Pack 1, which was released quite a few months ago. I thought it was time I familiarised myself with Windows Update. Follow our eight-step guide to refresh your memory too.

At a glance

Skill level: Anyone can do it

Time taken 30 mins

Suitablefor Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Description: Windows Update finds the latest additions for your OS, and updates Microsoft products.

Windows Update finds the latest additions for your OS, and updates Microsoft products.

Best tip

Windows Live has its own separate updating software, so make sure you keep an eye out for that too.

Step-by-step - The updating game

Find Windows Update

Description: Locate Windows Update on your PC

Locate Windows Update on your PC

To get started, you need to locate Windows Update on your PC. To do this, go to the Start menu and either type Windows Update in the search box, then press [Enter], or select the ‘All Programs’ option. You’ll find the Update option just above the list of folders. Windows Update can also be found within the Control Panel under the ‘System and Security’ option.

Importance of being updated

Description: Importance of being updated

Importance of being updated

You’ll notice that the available updates are divided into two areas, Important and Optional, depending on how urgent they are. Clicking on either one of these options will open the installation selection screen. From here you can choose which updates you want to install from the list provided. You can also see the last time Windows checked online for new updates.

Your permission

Description: Permission to install the updates

Permission to install the updates

The Important updates should be dealt with first. As you can see from the green arrow on the right-hand side of the screen, I’ve already downloaded two very important updates – Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and the Windows Malicious Software Removal tool. This was done automatically, but Windows still needs my permission to install the updates.

Spare time

Description: Make sure you have the spare time.

Make sure you have the spare time.

Not all updates will have been downloaded to your PC automatically. For example, the Service Pack 1 update for Microsoft Office is quite large and is currently awaiting my permission to proceed. These important updates can take a long time to download and install, so make sure you have the time to spare and you aren’t in the middle of another task.

Bug fixes too

Description: The updates fix bugs with programs.

The updates fix bugs with programs.

The Optional updates can range from anything like an update for your monitor to installing a new language pack. These updates are optional because they’re not needed for security reasons. However, they may be no less important. Many of these updates fix bugs with programs, or provide support for new technologies that will improve your computing experience.

Better safe than sorry

Description: Save work before you close everything down.

Save work before you close everything down.

Once you’ve made your selections you’re ready to go ahead and click the ‘OK’ button at the bottom right of the screen. It’s a good idea to close all other running programs and leave your PC alone while all the updates take effect. Nearly all the updates will need to restart your PC before they take effect, so make sure you save work before you close everything down.

Time for a brew

Description: Time for a brew

Time for a brew

 As soon as you’ve pressed the ‘OK’ button, you’ll be taken back the Windows Update home screen. Click the ‘Install Updates’ button to proceed. The length of time it takes to complete the task depends on how many updates you’ve selected. Here I’m installing several updates including a Service Pack, so I’m expecting this to take a while.

The master

Description: You’ve now mastered Windows Update.

You’ve now mastered Windows Update.

The good thing about this process is that you don’t have to be at your PC while the updates are taking place. Once you computer has updated and probably restarted a few times, you’ll see the little notifications – you’ve now mastered Windows Update and you’ll no doubt pay closer attention to the latest updates.

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