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The Importance of System Patches and Updates

written by: •edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 10/3/2008

Staying on top of system patches and updates is essential to keeping your computing environment safe from viruses, malware, and rootkits. These electronic demons search for security holes that they can exploit. System patches and updates help plug these holes, leaving the demons out in the cold.

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    What's The Big Deal?

    We've all encountered it. That annoying little pop-up message that materializes in the form of a yellow shield. Ah, the joys of the Microsoft Windows Automatic Update feature. It always seems to rear it's ugly little yellow head when I'm in the middle of something vitally important (like writing an article for BrightHub for example). When you see it, you're tempted to click on it aren't you? But then there's that voice in the back of your mind that tells you, "If you click on that you know what's going to happen." That's right. ANOTHER annoying pop-up. This one more frequent and insistent, pestering you to restart your computer.

    So are these updates really necessary? Well let me answer that question with another set of questions. Do you really need to change the oil in your car? Do you really need to brush your teeth every day? Is it absolutely necessary to go to the doctor when you're deathly ill? The answer is YES to all of the above. A computer, like a car or your very own body, requires maintenance from time to time. System patches and updates do a number of things to ensure that your operating system and/or third party software run safely and efficiently. Here are just a few of the tasks that system patches and updates perform:

    • Fix security holes
    • Update subsystems and drivers to increase software compatibility
    • Optimize how the operating system handles resources
    • Add updated features and tools
    • Remove outdated features and tools

    The importance of system patches and updates should now be obvious. However annoying the process may be, it is critical. A necessary evil. I don't know anyone that likes going to the doctor. But let's face it. It could save your life. Vigilance in staying on top of patches and updates might not save your life, but it will make it a lot easier! So click on the little yellow shield... you know you want to.