One of the common features of Windows computers is the often annoying and frequent operating system updates that take place. These can take time to install and time to download. If your internet connection is already slow it can affect the way that web pages' load and the way other software applications run. However, these updates are essential to the security of your computer.
When your operating system was first released, it was tested, and any issues that were found was fixed. But since the release date, there have been numerous issues that have been found some of which were found by Microsoft and others that have been found by hackers or other people who had ill intent.
The problems that require an update are those that are a security risk. There will be a way of exploiting them that someone could use against you, that could allow a virus to be installed, for someone to steal your personal information or even for them to use the vulnerability in the system to take control of your computer.
Anti-virus software will help you overcome some of these weaknesses by providing real-time protection from threats as they occur, and also by quarantining and removing infected files that have been downloaded. However, they will not protect against other threats.
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This is where updates come in. Microsoft will release all updates as they are developed, and send them out to all users. Your system may be set to download and install updates automatically or be set to download and notify you but not install or to do nothing. Leaving it up to the user to choose which updates to install and when.
Unfortunately, choosing any setting other than automatic updates leaves you at risk with these vulnerabilities for a longer period of time. Though allowing the system to take care of its own updates can be a nuisance, it is the best way of maintaining the safety of your computer when taken as a part of your overall computer maintenance routine.
The other major consideration is the software that is installed on your computer. Software too can have vulnerabilities and when these are found they can be exploited in just the same way as operating system vulnerabilities can be exploited.
Programs such as the Java run-time environment and Adobe's Flash seem to update particularly often. In the case of software updates, it is important to ensure that the outdated version of the program does not remain on your computer, an ongoing threat. Older versions of software such as Flash should be removed as soon as it is replaced with a newer version.
Of course, there are also other measures that you should take in order to completely protect your computer and the files that are stored on it. Keeping a firewall turned on, and an anti-virus program installed, up to date, and running is equally essential to prevent viruses and other malware infections being able to populate your computer. However, the importance of running regular software updates should not be underestimated.