Never underestimate the importance of PC maintenance. It’s easy to keep using your computer while it’s running well but if you don’t keep your software up-to-date, you could open up a whole can of worms – or rather bugs.
This is especially true for Windows: Microsoft constantly monitors the performance and security of its flagship product, with updates to squash bugs, close security holes and add new features or support for other products. So, if you don’t update Windows, you’ll miss out on the latest innovations and safety checks.
These updates are free, but it’s up to you to make sure your PC doesn’t get left behind. Luckily, Windows makes it easy. You can get important updates delivered and installed automatically, as and when they’re available, or you can pick and choose which updates you want.
It’s worth manually checking every now and then – even if you use automatic updates – just in case you missed something. If you follow this step-by-step guide you’ll be up-to-date with every update.
1. Launch Windows Update
Click the Start button then click All Programs, followed by Windows Update. If automatic updates aren’t switched on, click the button to set it up, or click Change Settings (in the left-hand pane), to verify your settings. You should see Install Updated Automatically selected under Important Updates. Click OK, then click Check for Updates to get Windows to immediately check for any new updates.
2. Review available updates
If this is the first time you’ve updated your computer, you’ll see quite a few updates (which shows how essential it is to keep a regular check). These are separated into Important and Optional updates. By default, a number of updates will have been automatically selected – click Install Updates to let Windows download and install these critical updates.
3. Check terms
You’ll see a progress bar showing the updates being downloaded and installed. If there’s a lot to get through it will take a bit of time. Some updates have a new license agreement that you need to read and agree to before they install. Choose I Agree and click Finish to continue installing them.
4. Install and reboot
When all the updates have been installed, you’ll get a message telling you how successful the process has been. You might also be prompted to restart your computer, so make sure you’ve saved any open documents then click Restart Now.
5. Check for more updates
Once your PC has restarted, launch Windows Update again. There might be more updates to install but this is because certain updates aren’t available until others have been installed first. Just repeat the process and keep checking Windows Update again, until all the important updates have been installed.
6. Review optional updates
Optional updates aren’t critical to the health of your computer, but they can be useful. If there are any available, click the X Optional Updates are Available Link. If you select an update, you can read more about it in the right-hand pane and decide if you want it. If you do, simply tick the box. Once you’ve reviewed all the updates and chosen what you want click OK, followed by Install Updates, to download and install them.
7. Other Microsoft updates
You can also get updates for other Microsoft products like Office, through Windows Update. Click the Find out More link, next to Get Updates for other Microsoft Products. Tick the box to agree to the terms then click Install. Now the update process will cover Windows, Office and any other Microsoft programs that you use.