|March 8, 2003
The biggest complaint about
Windows by most people is how buggy and insecure the operating system is.
This is especially true if you are using your Windows machine in a server
role where it may be the subject of various types of attacks. The
best thing you can do as a system administrator is to constantly keep your
machine current with the latest patches, drivers, and updates. This
is true whether you use your computer as a workstation or server.
Back in the day, people who
wanted to keep their operating system patched to the most current level
would have to scour Microsoft's website for news bulletins for updates
and briefs. Then you would have to find the proper patch, download
it, and install it. This was a real pain in the butt since it was
very difficult to remember which patches you installed, whether the patch
was critical or not, and it was simply time consuming. Things are
much better now.
You can still do things the
old way as I described above, but I'm not sure why you would want to since
we now have Microsoft Windows Update. Windows Update is a very handy
web tool that will scan your computer and keep track of which updates you
need to install. You can choose between critical updates, optional
updates, and the latest drivers. Let's see how this thing works.
There are two ways
to start Windows Update. The first way is to double-click on the
icon on your desktop labeled "Windows Update". Sometimes this icon
is on your Start menu as well.
What if you were a genius
and deleted the Windows Update icon? Don't worry, all you have to
do is open up Internet Explorer and go to windowsupdate.com.
Simple. This only works in Internet Explorer and not any other web
browser (Netscape, Opera, Mozilla). Both methods of starting Window
Update are essentially the same thing.
The first thing you'll see
when Windows Update starts is this message. It is checking if you
have the latest plugin for Internet Explorer to run Windows Update.
If you have never used Windows
Update or haven't used it for a while, then the plugin is likely missing
our outdated (as is the case with this computer) so you'll be prompted
to install the latest version. Click on "Yes".
Okay, now that the plugin
is ready, click on the "Scan for updates" button. This will begin
the process of checking your operating system to see which patches have
already been installed and which patches still need to be installed.
If you are worried about privacy, Microsoft adds a little note at the bottom
which states: "Windows Update does not collect any form of personally identifiable
information from your computer". Whether you believe this or not
is up to you! :)
Scanning is now done.
Under "Pick updates to install" are 3 different sections with the number
of patches in each section that are available.
Critical Updates and Service
Packs - These are very important security patches that must be installed.
They are so important that Windows Update automatically puts them in the
"Review and install updates" section.
Windows XX - These are optional
updates that might be nice to install but aren't super critical.
For example, you'll find the latest version of Windows Media player here.
However, it is up to you whether or not you install these.
Driver Updates - The latest
drivers for your hardware are listed here. This way you don't have
to go hunt down each manufacturer individually.
In this example here, I'm
not going to install any optional updates. If you want to, all you
have to do is click on "Windows XX", select which updates you want by clicking
Once you've added all the
updates you want to install, click on "Review and install updates".
This is a summary list of
the updates you will be downloading and installing. Click "Install
After a few moments, you'll
see a dialog box which contains the License Agreement for the updates you're
about to install. After you read them, click "Accept".
Then the update files will
begin to be downloaded.
The files have been downloaded
and are in the process of being installed.
Now the installation is complete.
As with almost all Windows
patches, you'll have to reboot your computer. Save your work and
If you are running Windows
Update for the first time, there will be a lot of Critical Updates to install.
Some of these Critical Updates have to be individually installed from the
rest of the updates. This is true especially of Service Packs.
All you have to do is run Windows Update multiple times until the program
shows that you have zero critical updates left.
Windows Update makes keeping
your computer up to date much easier. However, there is even an easier
way that I'll show you in a separate article. You still have to use
Windows Update like I just showed you, but once you get all those updates
installed, you can use Automatic Windows Update.
Here we go!