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For Seniors: How to Understand Microsoft Windows Update Options

Companies such as Microsoft release updates to their software, both to fix problems discovered post-release and to deal with new threats to computers that appeared after the software release. You can use Windows Update to make sure that your computer has the most up-to-date security measures in place.

You can set Windows Update to work in a few different ways by choosing Start→All Programs→Windows Update and clicking the Change Settings link on the left side of the Windows Update window that appears. In the resulting dialog box, click the Important Updates drop-down list and choose from these settings:

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  • Install Updates Automatically: With this setting, Windows Update starts at a time of day you specify, but your computer must be on for it to work. If you’ve turned off your computer, the automatic update will start when you next turn on your computer, and it might shut down your computer in the middle of your work to complete the installation.

  • Download Updates But Let Me Choose Whether to Install Them: You can set up Windows Update to download updates and have Windows notify you (through a little pop-up message on your taskbar) when they’re available, but you get to decide when the updates are installed and when your computer reboots (turns off and then on) to complete the installation. If you don’t want to be surprised by a computer reboot, choose this setting.

  • Check for Updates But Let Me Choose Whether to Download and Install Them: With this setting, you neither download nor install updates until you say so, but Windows notifies you that new updates are available.

  • Never Check for Updates: You can stop Windows from checking for updates and check for them yourself, manually. This setting puts your computer at a bit more risk, but it’s useful for you to know how to perform a manual update if you discover a new update, such as updated drivers or a language pack, is available that you need to proceed with a task.

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