Keeping Your System Secure with Windows Update

Windows Update is a service that provides online updates for Windows 7 . With it, you can obtain updates to Windows that include security updates, performance improvements, and support for new devices . If you're coming to Windows 7 from Windows XP, you'll find Windows Update completely overhauled. It's now a Control Panel application (in the System

And Security section of Control Panel) and no longer uses a web-based interface . (Of course, it still requires an active internet connection .) As before, it can be opened from the All Programs menu or the Tools menu (on the menu bar, not the Tools button on the toolbar) in Internet Explorer as well as from Control Panel. You'll also find a Windows Update link in the left pane of Action Center.

Note

Keeping Windows up to date is an absolutely essential step in maintaining a secure computer and avoiding malware. In recent years, the most widely exploited vulnerabilities in Windows have been patched quickly—usually before these issues became widespread problems. Windows users who installed the updates promptly were able to avoid infection, whereas legions of others (who failed to keep their systems updated) fell victim .

Depending on how you have Windows Update configured, you might not need to visit the Windows Update window at all because it does its work quietly in the background, keeping your computer up to date with the latest fixes and improvements . (It's still a good idea to check the list of available updates at least once a month, to find optional updates such as hardware drivers and nonessential fixes to Windows features you use regularly.) You can view its current settings, see what it has been up to, and find out what else it has in store for you by starting at its main window, shown in Figure 21-3 . The top part of the window displays the current status and alerts you to any actions you should take.

Figure 21-3 Windows Update lets you know if important or optional updates are available to download and install.

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