Computer Updates

I’m sure you are somewhat conscious of the update capability of your computer. Updates come in several forms. Some updates come in the form of firmware updates. This type of update directly affects the hardware aspects of the computer. Firmware updates are not a security issue; rather they are designed to enhance the computer’s hardware capabilities. One type of firmware update affects the BIOS which is inside the computer. The ordinary user rarely, if ever, gets involved with firmware updates. These updates are best left to the computer technician and then on a case by case basis.

Software updates are the most popular type. These updates are usually security updates but they can also include performance, stability, and feature enhancements. You may wonder why you need to be concerned about all these updates when there is a good up-to-date anti-virus program installed. An anti-virus is only as good as its underpinnings, namely the operating system (XP, Vista, and Windows 7). To have strong security protection so the anti-virus program can do its job, you must have installed all the available security updates from Microsoft. If you use Windows XP click on Windows Update in the all Programs menu. If you get a prompt to convert to Microsoft Update, that’s fine. Microsoft Update includes updates for Microsoft Office and other Microsoft programs as well as to Windows XP. Once you have converted, you will automatically get all of the Microsoft updates on the second Tuesday, or thereabouts, of each month.
Vista and Windows 7 updates can be found in the Control Panel by clicking on Windows Update. Checking for updates in this fashion can assure you that you have all the important or critical updates your computer needs so it can support your anti-virus program.

The virus creators are constantly looking for entry paths into your computer. They will take any path possible to get in to create mayhem. You may think that you have done all the updates and checked your anti-virus program to make sure it’s up to date. What else can you do?

Any installed program can lead to a virus infection. There are 3 programs that often exist on computers that are on the security radar. They are Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, and Java. Adobe Flash provides animations and video on web sites. Flash is part of the Chrome and Firefox browsers. Updates to these browsers include the newest versions of Flash. However, with Internet Explorer Flash is separately downloadable and it is usually automatic. You can check and update if necessary by clicking the Flash Player icon in the Control Panel, then click the Advanced tab, and click the Check Now button. Adobe Reader is used for reading PDF files and can be updated by opening the program and clicking Help, then click Check for Updates. Java, which is used for certain web site development, can be checked by clicking the Java icon in the Control Panel. Click the Update tab then click the Update Now button.
All 3 of these popular programs are not installed on all computers. If you are satisfied with your computer’s operation, then you probably don’t need these optional programs.

Remember, our PC Computer Club is open to all residents. There is no formal membership or experience required. Your questions and problems will be addressed at the meeting. We meet the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM upstairs in the Ardmore room of the Community Center.