One of the questions I get asked is “do I have to update my computer?” This is often accompanied by the comment that the computer is behaving itself and working just fine.
Of course, the real reason for the question is the sheer amount of time Windows Update takes, especially when you want to shutdown your PC. The message “Applying update 1 of 15” brings dread to many people. So, why go through the agony?
The biggest two reasons for program and system updates are fixes for bugs, errors, and for security problems. Often a known bug will be exploited to enable an attack on a PC. The third reason is enhancements, improvements or adding new features to programs.
Security fixes for computers became an absolute necessity now that many PCs are left running, connected to the internet, for most of, if not the whole, day. Your phone similarly has a network connection 24hrs a day (in theory) as do many tablets. Internet connected devices are accessible from the internet, the data can flow both ways. Most of the time, this is not an issue.
Your computer also connects to systems around the world to check if any programs need updating. Some programs, such as Internet Explorer, Java, Firefox, Chrome, Adobe Flash etc are deliberately targeted to identify security flaws in order to attack computers; therefore updates are relatively frequent and should be applied as soon as possible.
Windows, MacOs and Android all require regular updating, but some phone and tablet apps seem to update almost weekly! Microsoft releases updates for Windows on the second Tuesday of every month and this time, Jan 14th, Java and Flash both have major security updates on the same day. The Java update is to fix a known security problem that has already been exploited – your computer is at serious risk if you do not update. As Java runs on every PC, laptop, tablet, phone and smart telly, updating is not unique to Windows PCs.
Please don’t ignore the “Updates are available” messages!