The latest version of Windows, Windows 10 downloads and installs critical updates automatically, though you are often required to do a full restart until they become active.
Other versions of Windows such as Windows Vista, 7 and 8 allow you the option to disable automatic updates, therefore if you have this featured enabled it's very important that you check regularly if there are any updates to download and install.
Updates don't just protect you from security risks, but also patch general problems with the operating system.
Windows is updated roughly once a month
Microsoft tend to publish security updates on the second Tuesday of each month. The company may release updates outside of this, but this generally only happens if a security patch is urgent. For more information about the latest updates visit microsoft.com.
Manual or automatic update?
If you want Windows to update automatically, you do not need to change the default setting - as it is already enabled.
For most users automatic update is recommended - as you do not need to remember to update Windows. If for any reason you want to have control over this, you can select manual update of Windows, but then you must remember this.
You can configure the update setting for Windows via the Start button, Control Panel, System and Security, Windows Update, Change Settings in Windows 7.
If you have Windows 8, this can be accessed through the Control Panel, which is usually found on your taskbar. Click on Control Panel, then select System and Security, Windows Update then select Change Settings.
In "Change Settings" you can choose to turn automatic updating on or off. You can also select the day and time of the update, if you choose automatic update.
If you want to download Windows updates manually, this can be arranged via the same menu item, namely via the Start button, Control Panel, System and Security, Windows Update, and look for updates. There is a website that does the same, namely that it checks if there are new updates for Windows. This website is windowsupdate.microsoft.com
You simply just have to press the "Install Updates" button, and the current updates are downloaded and installed. You usually have to restart your PC after installing updates - therefore it is wise to not run any programs simultaneously.
Microsoft tends to add a new security update once a month - the second Tuesday of each month.
If you need more information about updates from Microsoft and advice on downloading the updates individually, then visit Microsoft's
How can you update Windows without being on the Internet?
If you have access to a second computer with Internet access, then WHDownloader
is a fairly easy to use application that can be used to download some Windows updates. You select the operating system or Office version, and choose updates, plus a download folder, and press the download button. The updates are made via the download folder, or via the program "update mode".
WSUS Offline Update
is a third party application that can be used to update computers that are not necessarily connected to the Internet.
Download the Zip file and run the program file UpdateGenerator.exe. You can choose among different Windows version and language version.
You can also choose to create an ISO file that can be burned to a DVD disc. This program supports multiple updates simultaneously, ie for different Windows versions. The program has a separate tab for Microsoft Office, so you can update Office as well.
It's not just Windows that should be updated regularly, but also programs that can be targeted and used to gain access to Windows vulnerabilities by hackers.
In many cases, most programs have a built-in feature, which ensures that they update themselves automatically, but not always. Most programs offer a menu choice, often via Help/Help menu, which can be used to update the program manually.
There are programs that can help you keep track of this by updating multiple applications simultaneously. These are some of them:
- Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) is a free program that can detect vulnerable and outdated software that is installed on your PC.
- FileHippo Update Checker scans your PC for installed software. This information is then forwarded to the website filehippo.com, which checks whether there is a newer version of the programs. The result is displayed on their website and has a link to download the updated version.
- Milouz Market is a free program that provides an overview of the programs installed on your PC, and which ones need updating - it gives you an overview over 200 popular applications. The program supports Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, and it supports both 32-bit and 64 bit Windows.
- Software Update scans your PC, and keeps a list of software that needs updating.
- AutoUP takes care of updating the software installed on your PC. AutoUP supports over 60 programs. You decide which programs are updated.
- Patch My PC scans your PC for several applications, and downloads updates automatically.
In some cases you may need to block updates to prevent a program from being updated. If for example you know that an update for a specific application makes it unstable, or if you want to test a patch on a test machine before a full install.
is a free program that blocks updates. The program supports following programs/companies: Adobe, Apple, Google, Java, Mozilla, Skype and Windows.
The program scans your computer and displays the result in the form of buttons that make it easy to block updating of specific programs. You can then choose "disabled" or "enabled" or another relevant choices. The default is marked with blue colour.
If you have problems after updating?
Sometimes an update can be more of a mischief than an advantage. Fortunately, this happens rarely, because an update is usually thoroughly tested by the maker, but there's always the possibility it will be troublesome. What can you do if this happens?
There are several options, including these:
Uninstall/reinstall a program
If an update of a program has created problems, try to uninstall the program and reinstall it. Uninstall can arrange through Control Panel, Programs and Uninstall a program. Right-click on a particular application, and select Uninstall.
If you are unsure which update has caused the problem, look at the date of installations and try to remove the recently installed updates, either one by one or all together to see if this helps.
Use a restore point
Windows has its own feature called System Restore. Windows saves a state of the system, so you can go back in time, if something bad should happen with the system, for example, if a bad driver has been installed.
Restore points are saved automatically when you update Windows so you do not have to do this manually.
System restore can be found via the Control Panel – System and Security – System – System Protection.