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
Anyone can do it
Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP
Windows Update finds the latest
additions for your OS, and updates Microsoft products.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Better safe than sorry
Save work before you close everything
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
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.
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.