Sometimes I am guilty of doing the very thing I criticize others for.  I recently told you about some critical Windows updates that you should apply ASAP. I thought I gave some pretty detailed instructions on how to handle the update, but a reader called me out:

“The article is lacking in quality: Shouldn’t the alert contain the number of the Microsoft Windows update needed? How do I know if I already have the update? Who guarantees that the update needed will be automatically available?”

I was assuming a level of familiarity with the process of Windows updates that not everyone has.  I apologize.  Let’s take a look at the process of Windows updates.  In the first part of this article, we’ll look at Windows 7.  In part 2, we’ll cover Windows 10.

Let’s get basic.  What are Windows updates?  They are security patches and bug fixes issued by Microsoft to correct holes in security that could allow hackers to damage your PC or steal your information and to correct issues with programs.  Also, sometimes they bring changes to programs like Internet Explorer or Paint or add new features to the system.

Here’s how to check for updates in Windows 7.  Type Windows Update in your search box in the start menu.  Click on the result.

windows-update-7

windows-update-7

If there are updates ready to install for your PC, you’ll receive a notice.  You’ll also see when the most recent check for updates happened and when the last updates were installed. These updates are provided by Microsoft, free of charge, for supported Windows operating systems. Microsoft provides this type of support for at least 10 years from the time an operating system is released.

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install-windows-updates

You might see a screen like this, that says no important or critical updates are available, but that there are some optional updates available.

optional-windows-updates

If I click on the blue letters, I’ll get a listing of the available updates.  You can click on them to get more information. Then you can decide if you want to install. I’d suggest installing all updates labeled “critical” or “important.”

optional-windows-updates-listed.jpg

To check which updates you’ve installed, click on view update history.

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You’ll get a list of updates and be able to see when they were installed and if the attempt at installation was successful.

update-history-listed

If you want to make sure that Windows updates install automatically (which I suggest), click Change settings at the left of Windows update.

updater-change-settings

Click the drop-down arrow under Important updates to choose to have updates installed automatically.  You can also set it to ask your permission before installing.

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You can also select a preferred time for installation and whether or not to automatically install recommended updates and other types of software updates like mouse drivers.

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Make sure to hit the OK button to save the changes. The process is a bit different in Windows 10.  We’ll check that out tomorrow.