Why You Should Update Java

 Posted by on April 28, 2011  general
Apr 282011
 

Java use is so widespread it is often the target of virus attack. Oracle (formerly Sun) Java is a common programming language – tiny Java programs run inside a web browser to allow you to play web based games etc. Java is installed as an add-on or extension into the web browser and is one of the core Windows programs that you should keep updated.

You probably already have it on your computer – many websites use Java programs because they are portable (able to be used by different computers with different operating systems) and are used to enhance web pages. Without it you may not be able to use some websites or they will not display properly – and they will keep prompting you to install Java…

Why Update It? We have lost count of the number of computers we see with very old versions of Java installed. Many people ignore repeated reminders to update it because they don’t know what Java is or are afraid it may cause a problem. However, there are 2 very good reasons to keep Java up to date:

1.  Performance and Reliability – The latest version provides better performance and improved compatibility with new releases of web browsers and Windows Service Packs.

2.  Security – Because Java use is so widespread it is often the target of virus attack. New versions with security updates help block any security holes found in Java and keep your computer safe – using an older version leaves your computer more exposed to viruses and other malware.

How To Update Java – You can check which version of Java you have by visiting Oracle’s website here and clicking the ‘Verify Java Version’ button. You should see a message telling you whether you have the latest version of Java installed which, at the time of writing, is Version 7 Update 10.

If your version is older, or you do not have Java installed, you will be prompted to download and install the latest version. Follow the simple instructions but keep an eye out for any other options ticked during the installation process e.g. the Google Toolbar – untick these options if you do not want to install them as well.

The latest version will automatically overwrite the last older version and you will now be up to date. Remember to update it on a regular basis – a reminder will pop up in your system tray (bottom right of screen) when a new version is available.

Now Uninstall Older Versions – The later versions of Java automatically uninstall the previous version during the installation process so in future you should only ever have one version of Java on your computer.

However, older versions did not use to remove the previous version when they were installed so you may still have older versions of Java installed on your computer. Having them there leaves you open to security and performance issues e.g. virus infected webpages may try to use the oldest (most insecure) version of Java on your computer – it is wise to uninstall any older versions now.

To remove older versions of Java just follow the steps below in the same way – just as you would remove any other software from your computer. Note: Older versions of Java may appear in the list of installed programs as ‘J2SE Runtime Environment’ or ‘Java 2 Runtime Environment’ – uninstall these too.

Windows 7 and Vista – Uninstall Programs

Click Start then select Control Panel.
Select Programs then click Programs and Features.
Select the Java version you want to uninstall by clicking on it, and then click the Uninstall button.

Windows XP – Uninstall Programs

Click Start then select Control Panel.
Click the Add/Remove Programs control panel icon.
The Add/Remove control panel displays a list of software on your system, including any Java software products that are on your computer.
Select the Java version you want to uninstall by clicking on it, and then click the Remove button.