Keeping Windows Up To Date Automatically

It is easy to set Windows to automatically check for updates – good for security. Most of the computers we see have versions of Windows and programs that are well out of date – many people seem afraid to update them in case they ‘break’ something or may not know what the program is so ignore reminders to update it.

Does It Really Matter? Yes – if you care about the security of your computer and want to avoid being infected with viruses/have passwords stolen etc. The updates sometimes add new functionality and performance improvements which are worth having but they are mostly security updates to help protect your computer and your data.

If you do not keep Windows and other programs up to date you may leave gaping security holes that viruses and other nasties will gladly exploit – good antivirus software should be your last defense against viruses, not the first port of call to stop attacks from every quarter.

Fortunately Windows is set to automatically check for updates by default so you should be covered. If updates are available they will be usually be automatically downloaded and installed – you may recall seeing a message like ‘Do not switch off your computer until updates are complete’ when you shut down your computer – this is Windows updating itself.

Check If Windows Will Update Automatically – Double check that Windows Updates are set to Automatic on your computer by doing the following:

XP – click Start, right click My Computer, click Properties to open the System Properties window. Click on the Automatic Updates tab and ensure that Automatic (recommended) is selected and Every day at 03:00 (the default) is selected. If yours is different, change it to as shown below then click OK to ensure you receive regular updates in future:


Vista And Windows 7 – click the Start button, click All Programs then click Windows Update. If a prompt appears asking if you would like to continue, select Continue to proceed and open the Windows Update window.

In the left panel, click Change Settings and ensure that Install Updates Automatically (Recommended) is selected and Every Day at 03:00 (the default) is selected. If yours is different, change it now and click OK to ensure you receive regular updates in future.

Warning: If you have a pirated copy of Windows (perhaps someone else installed it for you), your copy could contain hidden viruses or backdoors to allow other people to access your computer. Even worse, because they could be built into Windows itself, your antivirus software may never pick them up. Pirated copies of Windows (apart from being illegal) may be the biggest security risk around – you would be wise to install a genuine version of Windows.

2 thoughts on “Keeping Windows Up To Date Automatically”

  1. Your workplace has probably ‘locked down’ their computers using Group Policy (security templates) to stop individual computers downloading updates. Try it on your home PC and you should be ok.
    In businesses, updates are often downloaded by a server computer (and installed from there) not by individual PCs.

    The reasons are: 1) the updates only have to be downloaded once from the internet rather than possibly 100s of times and 2) it gives a chance to test the updates and ensure they are compatible with the company’s computers/special software.

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