Network Administration: Software Updates - dummies

Network Administration: Software Updates

One of the annoyances that every network manager faces is applying software patches to keep the operating system and other software up to date. A software patch is a minor update that fixes the small glitches that crop up from time to time, such as minor security or performance issues.

These glitches aren’t significant enough to merit a new version of the software, but they’re important enough to require fixing. Most of the patches correct security flaws that computer hackers have uncovered in their relentless attempts to wreak havoc on the computer world.

Periodically, all the recently released patches are combined into a service pack. Although the most diligent network administrators apply all patches when they’re released, many administrators just wait for the service packs.

Windows includes a feature called Windows Update that automatically installs patches and service packs when they become available. These patches apply not just to Windows but to other Microsoft software as well. To use Windows Update, open the Control Panel, click System and Security, then click Windows Update.


From the Windows Update window, you can click the Install Updates button to download any updates that apply to your computer. You can also configure Windows Update so that it automatically checks for updates and installs them without asking. To set this option, click the Change Settings link. This displays the Windows Update Change Settings page, as shown in the following figure.


The Important Updates drop-down list gives you several options for automatic operation:

  • Install Updates Automatically: This option checks for updates on a regular basis and installs them without asking. You can specify how often to check for updates and at what time.

  • Download Updates But Let Me Choose Whether to Install Them: If you’re a picky computer user, you should choose this option. It automatically downloads the updates but then gives you the option of whether or not to install them. This lets you opt out of updates you may not want.

  • Check for Updates But Let Me Choose Whether to Download and Install Them: This option lets you determine which updates should be downloaded.

  • Never Check for Updates: This option disables automatic updates altogether.