Are Windows Updates Friends or Foes For Consumers?
by Robert McNicholas on June, 23 2014
Years ago, I used to hate Windows updates. They would inevitably download when I wanted to stream Netflix or install when I was trying to work from my PC, slowing my underpowered laptop to a crawl. What’s with all these patches? I would think. Get it right already, guys!
Well, don’t be too hard on Windows updates. Whether you like the updating process or not, it’s here to stay, and we all need it. Here’s why.
Why Windows Updates Itself
Windows updates are not the programmer’s equivalent of “Oh, wait! One more thing!” The fact is that technology is changing—and cyberthreats are evolving—so rapidly that you simply cannot expect an operating system to stay secure without updating it. Updates not only help plug security leaks, they also fix bugs that weren’t discovered during the testing process.
Microsoft releases many of its updates on Patch Tuesday, the second Tuesday of every month. Other updates may also be released throughout the month, as needed. However, Microsoft is far from the only company that needs to release regular fixes for its product.
There are two kinds of updates: critical and optional. Critical updates are needed to keep your PC secure and functioning well. They should always be installed. Optional updates are, well, optional; you can have them installed automatically, or you can decide on a case-by-case basis if you want to include them.
Making Updating Less of a Hassle
Today’s computers make updating Windows less of a hassle. For one thing, Internet speeds are fast enough now to let you download and stream multiple things at the same time, and most PCs are equipped with powerful processors that allow you to run many programs without affecting your computer’s performance.
Another way that updates have gotten easier is that they’re usually handled automatically via Windows Update in the Control Panel. You can use this program to regulate how, when, and what Windows chooses to update. If you go fully automatic, you can pretty much set it and forget it.
What about problems with updates? Sometimes, updates seem to mess up more than they fix. Here’s some first aid for failed updates:
- If an update failed to install, re-download it from Windows Update and re-install it.
- If you think an update is taking too long—just have patience. Sometimes they will take a long time. If your computer freezes during an update, however, you’ll have to restart it.
- If your computer restarted or powered off during an update, the process may simply resume where it left off when you turn your PC back on. If not, try reinstalling the update as described above.
- If you think an update has made a serious problem on your computer, you can use System Restore to undo the changes it made, but this should be a last resort. Check out the information on the Windows Update troubleshooter first, or read this page from About.com.
Is updating inconvenient? It is a bit, but not as much as it used to be. And compared to the alternative—an operating system full of bugs, holes, and hiding spots—it’s a small price to pay for security.