Nearly everyone who works with a computer daily can immediately recognize the Windows Updates messages. The pop up at the most inconvenient times. And Installing them can be a lengthy process. There are so many reasons why many people click the ‘Remind Me’ option and pick a date far into the future rather than going through the update process when it is first available. But ignoring these updates can be a grave mistake that can put your PC, your data, and your network at an elevated risk.
The Role of Updates
Approximately a billion devices globally run on the Windows 10 operating system. And many more run on older versions. More critically, cybercrime is on the rise. It increased by approximately 600% during the COVID-19 pandemic. Microsoft issues updates every few weeks that attempt to:
- Protect users from the emerging threats being used by cybercriminals: No code is impervious to vulnerabilities, and eventually, weaknesses are detected – usually because of emerging trends among cybercriminals. These vulnerabilities can make your system vulnerable to malware and other cyberattacks. Even with anti-malware or anti-virus software, Windows updates provide important patches that protect the devices. The consequences of not adequately updating your operating system are damaged software, loss of data, or identity theft, all of which are crimes that can cause millions -if not billions – of dollars of damage every year. And while it may seem like you are getting update alerts every couple of days, they are generally issued only every several weeks. And cyber trends change rapidly. Missing even one update can introduce a window in which a hacker can exploit. While updates can be annoying, and the process can seem to take forever, it is worth the effort to maintain the integrity and security of your device. Taking the time out to do it immediately can save you a ton of time, effort, and money later in the event that you suffer a cyber attack.
- Fix malfunctioning bits of code: Just like no code is impervious to security vulnerabilities, most codes also have general bugs or issues. While these issues are not as critical or time-sensitive as addressing security vulnerabilities, they can impact the performance and stability of your PC. Regular updates optimize this performance and can enhance the user experience.
- Adds new features: Many Windows updates introduce new features or elements that users want or need. When you run the updates, these improvements can be accessible to you, enhancing your experience.
The consequences of ignoring Windows updates can be dire. So, while it may be tempting to ignore these updates, the best move is to update as soon as possible. However, if you want to limit the number of updates you go through, it can be done safely if you understand the different types of updates and their significance.
Types of Windows Updates
Windows issues multiple types of updates since vulnerabilities can often be exploited within hours of them being identified. For this reason, the company engages in constant and continuous upgrades. However, not all updates are created equally. If you are selective about which updates you want, you must know which ones are essential and which ones are not. Windows classifies their updates into several broad categories, including:
- Critical Updates: Critical updates are widely released and contain a solution for a specific problem related to a critical non-security bug. These updates should be run as soon as possible to optimize or maintain the performance of your PC.
- Security Updates: Security updates contain fixes for identified vulnerabilities, rated as critical, important, moderate, or low. While you can take the rating to indicate whether or not you should update immediately or it can be delayed a bit, it’s important to remember that even a low-risk rating could result in a costly data breach under the right circumstances.
- Monthly Updates: Monthly updates are relatively new to Microsoft but provide a way to deliver cumulative updates. If you don’t engage in sporadic updates, using the monthly updates is an excellent way to periodically get all of the updates. These monthly updates address both security-related and non-security-related issues and can include updates released in the past. Like security updates, the monthly updates are rated as critical, important, moderate, or low. If your Windows Update settings are configured to install Important updates automatically, the monthly updates will be included.
- Service Packs: Service packs are tested and include hotfixes, security updates, critical updates, and other updates. They also contain additional fixes to products that may have been identified since its release and features that customers request.
- Non-Critical Updates: Non-critical updates do not contain security-related vulnerabilities, but they can still address issues that impact the performance and stabilities of Windows.
Testing Windows updates is crucial, particularly across enterprise environments with many devices. Usually, if an issue occurs, it is related to software or a driver. Testing can help you to identify any potential incompatibilities and mitigate them before going through an organization-wide release of the update.
As you can see, the best policy with nearly all updates is to install them as soon as you can. The easiest way to do this is by enabling automatic updates. This setting is the default for Widows operating systems, but many users disable this security feature because the updates can become annoying. It is easy to sympathize with that sentiment. After all, many users have lost unsaved work due to updates, they occur frequently, they are time-consuming, and they eat up storage – they are essential.
Regardless of how frustrating the update process can be, these updates provide crucial fixes for problems that can result in severe consequences. And the last thing you would want is to end up suffering a major cyber attack or data breach because you didn’t want to take the time to go through the update!
Sagacent Technologies is a knowledgeable and reputable Microsoft ceritified solutions provider serving the San Jose area. Please contact our team of experts today if you would like additional information about Windows updates.