How to check and install Microsoft Windows Updates

How to Check and Install Microsoft Windows Updates

For Win 7 and 8 Computers

Why are Windows Updates Important?

Hackers are constantly looking for new ways to break into your computer, and every time one of them finds an ‘open window’ in the security  Microsoft have to bring out an update to patch the hole. A lot of the updates Microsoft class as Important are to ‘close the window’ on these kinds of security issues. Other times the updates will be for bug fixes – somebody had their computer crash and as soon as Microsoft figure out why it crashed they make an update to fix that problem. Sometimes the problems being fixed are very rare, and other times they happen because something else has changed (banking security changes, a new printer gets released, the last update caused a new problem).

Of course the downside is that sometimes the update itself causes  computers to crash, and then an emergency update gets released to correct that problem… Which is one reason why some people prefer to install their updates manually. Delaying the update by a couple of days means you’ll get the fixed version instead of the one with problems.

To Check the Windows Update Status:

Click on the Start Button and type in Windows Update, then choose Windows Update.
Finding the Microsoft updates
Click the Start Menu and type Windows Update, Choose Windows Update

You can click on any of the images if you want to see them a little bigger.

This is a Win7 PC, but it will look almost the same on a Windows 8 machine.

Select Change Settings
Windows Update Settings
Windows Update Change Settings
Choose the setting for Updates that you want.
Microsoft Windows Update Settings
Change Windows Updates setting

These are the settings Dave has on my PC – I will be alerted to any new updates, but I’ve chosen NOT to let Microsoft download or install them without my permission. So I have to be responsible and say “yes” when they suggest the update.

One reason people don’t like this setting is because they aren’t sure whether they can trust that the update is really from Microsoft. There are viruses that will put a pop up on your computer asking you to ‘install an update’ when they actually want you to install an even nastier virus – and if you’ve clicked to install it then you can over ride your antivirus protection.

If you aren’t confident which update requests to trust then you can have the Important updates installed automatically, or use the manual update method that we are about to show you.

Important Updates are ones that Microsoft believe will keep your computer safe, so it is actually… important to update your important updates!

You can also choose to automatically download or automatically install the updates. Having them already downloaded makes the installation process faster when you choose to do it.

If you are setting up a computer for someone who doesn’t want to be responsible for checking and installing updates then having Important updates install automatically is a good setting. Most times having the updates install immediately will be safer than not having those security patches for months at a time.

Recommended Updates

Just under the Important Updates is the Recommended Updates. These are a bit less important but Microsoft would like you to do them.

We recommend you untick that box – there are too many updates for anyone to want to receive them all the time. You should check every month or so to see if any Recommended updates are available.


Windows Updates options


Manually Checking for Windows Updates

Windows Update Settings

Choose the Check for Updates setting this time. Your computer will contact Microsoft and let you know whether there are any updates for you.

Install Windows Updates

Some updates can take a while to install, and sometimes you’ll need to restart your computer – so we’d recommend that you save and close any documents you are working on, and choose a time when you can grab a coffee break while they install.

Checking for Microsoft Updates
Checking for Microsoft Updates

You can choose to Install all of the available updates, or have a look at them in more detail by clicking on the blue links. Here I have 11 important updates and 2 optional ones, but no recommended updates.

Microsoft Update Details

This shows you details about each update, and you can choose whether or not to install each one, though for important updates you generally do want to install them all.

Some of these updates may be associated with the graphics cards or other hardware in your computer – your computer will only show the updates that you actually need.

Once you’ve selected Install the computer will take over. You may need to shut down, but the update itself will prompt you with anything you need to do.

Hopefully you’ll now be confident about setting up, and installing your windows updates.
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