Software Updates: TO UPDATE OR NOT TO UPDATE… THAT IS THE QUESTION?
Published: 17 April 2023
We’ve all been there. You’re in a hurry to shut down your computer and head off when the dreaded ‘installing updates’ message appears, telling you it will take several minutes to complete.
There is always the temptation to just log off and ignore software updates, but this could actually cause more harm than good. Software updates are a vital part of IT maintenance and security and knowing how and when to do them is vital.
- Software updates (known as a patches) are a set of changes to a software to update, fix or improve it. Changes will either fix bugs or security vulnerabilities, provide new features or improve performance and usability.
- Updates are necessary to keep computers and devices running smoothly. Companies such as Microsoft and Apple regularly make updates or patches available for security and functionality.
- Routinely updating software is an important strategy in protecting computer systems from attacks against vulnerabilities that are periodically discovered by manufacturers.
- Updates don’t just apply to computers and laptops – it’s important to keep smartphones, tablets and smart watches updated as well.
WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME?
- There are benefits to automatically installing software updates when you are notified, as this means you will be running the most up-to-date version. However, as with any changes to software, there is always a risk of bugs, problems or compatibility when you do an update, no matter how much testing has been done by the software developers.
- The golden rule is, if it’s a security update, it is imperative that you do it. The notification will tell you it’s a security update, sometimes using wording such as ‘Vulnerability Update’ or ‘Vulnerability Patch’.
- If it’s a features update, whilst it is important, it is not as vital as a security update. Sometimes if you install a features update too soon, you run the risk of being a ‘guinea pig’, as the manufacturer will iron out glitches whilst the update is tested in real time. With features updates, it’s probably best to speak to your IT advisers to get their guidance.
- It’s also worth remembering that software updates are often automatically installed on company-owned equipment. Once an update is released, your IT provider will test it, then schedule a download on your machine. This may require a restart which you would be prompted to do if needed.
- However, for your own personal computers and devices, updates have to be done manually so it’s important to keep on top of these.
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