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Updates, get your updates here…

by Tris Hussey on February 16th, 2007

One of the most important things you can do to keep your computer, and applications, safe and happy is to keep it updated.  Back in the day, when the Internet was young and I was doing tech support, finding updates wasn’t fun or easy.  We pretty much had to do a lot of the work ourselves making sure we had the latest updates installed and available on hand.  The concept of “automatic updates” hadn’t caught on.

Fast forward to today and life is a lot easier.  Both OS X and Windows have nice automatic update checking, downloading, and installing.  Now I don’t know how it works in OS X, since I don’t have a Mac and the Mac faerries haven’t left one on my doorstep, so I’ll just focus on Windows for the moment.

First, make sure that automatic updates are turned on.  If you’re running XP or Vista, you’re going to be nagged until you do turn them on.  Just to be sure, check the Security Center (both versions of Windows) and make sure they are.  Okay, done.  Great.  The next thing that you should know is that often Microsoft Update (I use this over the stock Windows update because it catches updates to all the MSFT stuff on my machine) doesn’t show you important updates when you just use the “Express” option.

About once a month, or more often if you’re running Vista, you should do the “Custom” option and check to make sure there aren’t any goodies you need (like WiFi drivers, extra patches, etc).  It looks like Vista has really improved things in this respect, the “Custom” option is gone replaced by “just check and tell me you moron” (speaking to the computer of course).

Now for your apps.  Lots of my favourite apps check all by themselves.  Nice touch I think.  For those that don’t there is often a “Check for Updates” option on one of the menus (sometimes Help, sometimes Tools…it just depends on the app).  If neither of these are there, wander over to the app’s site once and a while and give a peek, see if anything is new.

I also subscribe to a feed for software updates that tends to be pretty good, but not 100%.  I also suggest VersionTracker.  This was a cornerstone of my update hunt when I was a Mac guy.  They expanded to cover Windows too a while back (note to self, add VT feed to Google Reader).

Yeah, I know checking for updates can be a drag.  Really, though, it’s an easy thing to do and it helps you keep that computer safe and happy.


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POSTED IN: Mac OS X, Software tips, Staying Sane, Vista, Windows, XP

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