Microsoft routinely puts out updates for current versions of Windows (and Windows applications). Some of these are critical updates, such as security patches, while others just tweak a program or fix a bug. Your operating system will run better if you stay up to date on the important updates, and an easy way to do this is by using Windows automatic updates.
To turn on automatic updates, right click on My Computer (in Windows Vista or 7, right click Computer) and select Properties. Then go to the Automatic Updates tab. Here you will see the different update options.
The safest choice is to pick Automatic, which will check for updates on a schedule that you choose (daily or weekly, at a certain time) and download any new updates it finds. However, if you want some control over which updates are installed, you can choose either of the next two options:
- Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them
- Notify me but don't automatically download or install them.
If you pick either of these two choices, a yellow shield icon with an exclamation point will appear in the system notification tray when new updates are available, and you can download or install them by clicking on it.
The last option is to turn off automatic updates completely. Choosing this option may leave your computer at risk, because you won't get any security fixes Microsoft comes out with. If you do choose to turn automatic updates off, you should check for updates manually once in a while by visiting Microsoft's Windows Update web page at WindowsUpdate.Microsoft.com
Whichever option you choose, click Apply at the bottom of the window to save your preference.