What are the steps to updating Windows with the security updates that are available online and are they free?
This question was answered on December 1, 2000. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
Bugs and security “holes” are a fact of life in “Operating Systems” and Windows, in its default installation, is full of “holes” Thanks to the Internet, updating your system and plugging holes has become much faster, easier and free.
Microsoft has built into its current operating systems and browsers, the ability to check your system against the most current updates to see what you may need to update
This feature, known as Windows Update, can be accessed by clicking on the Start button, then on the Windows Update icon (above “Programs” towards the top of the Start menu) If you are not connected to the Internet, your default connection will be activated and the Internet Explorer browser will be launched
You can also launch Windows Update from within the Internet Explorer when you are online by clicking on the Tools menu, then on Windows Update (Netscape users will have to temporarily use the Microsoft browser in order to perform the updates.)
Both of these procedures will take you to a web page on the Microsoft website which will run a script that will examine your current Windows configuration and notify you of any available updates Not every listed update is needed and should not be installed unless they specifically address a known problem you are having These updates are generally broken up into several different categories: Critical Updates, Recommended Updates, Picks of the Month and Additional Windows Features The master geek on my staff, Brian, recommends installing anything in the Critical Updates section as well as the “Internet Explorer 5.5 Service Pack 1 and Internet Tools” and “Microsoft virtual machine” which both reside in the Recommended Updates section.
Place a checkmark in the updates that you wish to install then click on the blue “Download” button at the top right corner.
You will generally have to go through several sessions because some of the updates can only be done one at a time Many of the updates are rather large (especially if you have never gone through this procedure), so it can take more than an hour to download a single update on a dial-up connection (yet another reason to have a cable modem or DSL!)
If you want to be notified of critical updates in the future, one of the optional downloads is the “Windows Critical Update Notification” which will notify you as soon as a new critical update has been posted.
Users of Outlook and Outlook Express should also get in the habit of checking for security updates, since these programs are the most targeted by the current swarm of e-mail viruses Free updates and service packs are available for virtually any Microsoft product at <a href="http://microsoft.com/downloads"><font color="#003399">microsoft.com/downloads</font></a> Select the product that you wish to update and the version of Windows that you are running, then click on the Find it! button Look for the word “security” in the description of any of the Outlook/Outlook Express updates
I recommend checking for updates at least once a month, since new e-mail related virus code and system vulnerabilities are being discovered on a daily basis.
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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on December 1, 2000