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Windows updates and patches

Question: I get popups about Windows updates and patches that need to be installed. What is a patch and should I do it?

Answer: Software is made by people, and sometimes they make mistakes when making a program. As the software developers become aware of their mistakes they issue little mini-programs to fix the main program. These little mini-programs are called patches, and hot fixes.

All software needs to be fixed from time to time and Windows is no exception. Microsoft has built in an automatic updating system in Windows where patches and hot fixes can be automatically downloaded and applied to the computer. You can access the updating program by going to Control Panel and then choosing Windows Update.

Double-click on Automatic Updates and you will see four options: Automatic, Download, Notify, and Turn Off. Microsoft recommends the Automatic option, but I don’t. This will automatically download and apply all updates without input from you. While it may seem nice, I think blindly letting your computer apply updates isn’t a good thing. Take Internet Explorer 7 for example; I strongly recommend not installing it as it has some problems. However, if you have the Automatic option selected it will be installed regardless if you want it or not.

I recommend the Download option. You get a little more say-so as to what gets applied to your computer. You will see a little yellow shield with an exclamation point in it at the bottom-right of your computer next to the time. Double-click on this shield and you will have the option of applying the updates. Chose the “Custom Install” option to pick and choose which ones to apply. Don’t be afraid to deselect which ones you don’t want to apply. After all, it’s your computer. It should run how you want it to.

The last two options are pretty self-explanatory; Notify and Turn Off. Notify will just tell you about the updates and you’ll have to download them manually and Turn Off will turn off all updating (which I don’t recommend at all).

All software has glitches. It doesn’t matter who made it; Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Linux, HP, etc. Eventually the glitch will be found and will need to be fixed. Sometimes they are minor issues and sometimes they can be major problems. If you trust the software then you should trust the updates that need to be applied to it.

Posted on February 23rd 2013