Computer Updates How important are they really?

We have all seen the annoying pop ups that tell us that Windows, Java, Adobe, iTunes, or some other important program needs to install an update.  They always seem to happen at the worst time. 

But are they really necessary?  That depends on which updates you are talking about from which applications.  Some are very important to the workings or security of your computer while others will only affect the quality or some other aspect of your computing experience.  Let’s look at the major updates that you will be prompted to install.

Windows updates: When you get the notice from Windows, they usually list the number of updates and then they break it down into critical and other.  Of course, you want to install the critical updates but look at the others; they might be for items that you don’t use or need.  If that is the case, there is no reason to download those updates.  It won’t hurt your computer to install them but why waste the time and storage space if they are not necessary or even used?  Failure to install the critical updates can sometimes leave your computer vulnerable to attacks that have been discovered; besides, they usually correct some glitch that has been a problem. Windows also has VERSION UPDATES, These come out twice a year and are a major update that can change the look and feel of Windows, and might have new features. I tell people to wait a few months before installing these. They often have glitches that can cause damage to your system. It is best to wait until these glitches have been fixed.

Java updates: According to a message displayed on their downloads, Java runs the things that run your life.  It is used in almost every type of electronic gadget.  Unless you have a situation like a friend of mine who can’t update her Java because her work requires her to connect to a server that has an older version and they won’t update it, you should install the Java updates.  If you don’t install these updates, eventually you will begin to have internet problems and possibly not be able to use the internet at all.  These updates don’t usually take very long, and you can continue to work while they install in the background.  One thing to be careful of with Java and a few other updates is adding on extras.  I have seen Java updates that want you to install the Ask.com toolbar or Mcafee virus protection.  You don’t need more toolbars (they just slow you down) and it isn’t good to have more than one Anti-virus running, this can also slow you down.  Read the install page carefully and uncheck the boxes if you don’t want their extras. Java is slowly fazing out, so if you have a new machine, you might not have Java installed and will not have to worry about these.

Adobe updates: There are two major kinds of updates by Adobe, Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader.  Adobe Flash updates will help you view videos and other animations online.  These are usually important and sometimes you won’t be able to access a site unless you update flash.  Adobe Reader is used for viewing PDF files online and offline.  It doesn’t update very often but it is usually necessary to accept these updates also.

Apple:  There are two kinds of Apple updates, QuickTime and iTunes.  QuickTime deals with video and other animations so these are important to update.  iTunes updates usually take a long time and are very large.  I usually wait until iTunes forces me to update.  A better idea would be to update at the end of the day or if you know you will be away from your computer for awhile.

Other updates: Most printer companies and a lot of other software companies ask you to sign up for updates when you install their programs.  For all of these it comes down to how much you use the program and how sophisticated the software is.  If you do sign up for the updates you can still cancel them when they prompt you to update.  If the updates can run in the background or they don’t take too long it would probably be a good idea to install them.

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