What are Microsoft updates?
Microsoft updates are changes to software that can help prevent and fix problems related to your system. They also enhance the security of your computers and in some cases can help improve the computer’s performance in general.
You have probably seen your Microsoft system notify you when an update becomes available. Other software providers also let you know that a new version of a program is available.
Most Microsoft updates are categorised into the following groupings:
The main point of security updates is to secure your software from vulnerabilities. They are classed as critical, important, moderate, low, or non-rated. You should when possible always apply critical updates to your systems, they help prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited by malicious users.
These patch major issues found in Microsoft products that could cause errors or strange behaviour. In conjunction with security updates, they are classed as “High Priority” and should be installed as soon as feasibly possible.
These cover off “non-critical” problems and issues, such as additional features and less critical software bugs. These should be applied if any bug is manifesting itself within your software environment.
Service packs are literally a cumulative amalgamation of previous updates to date for a specific piece of software or operating system. Most service packs normally have additional feature changes. Service packs should be applied once released as they will help patch your systems to the very latest levels.
Why bother to update?
To help prevent problems before they occur. In general, most updates aren’t harmful, they do occasionally cause unexpected issues but this is far outweighed by securing your software. They also plug security holes that could leave your system vulnerable to malicious attack. Due to the adoption of Microsoft systems worldwide many viruses and exploits are specifically targeting unpatched Microsoft systems.
How Can I Stay Secure?
You have a number of options to stay secure depending on your internal setups:
Use Automatic Updates
A Microsoft operating system feature built-in that allows you to define a time to download and install High Priority updates.
Although very helpful please bear in mind that:
• All High Priority updates are applied with no user input. What happens if it breaks something else?
• Some updates are not applied automatically; you may miss something important.
Use software management
Update management software can resolve many of the shortfalls that come with having each computer responsible for updating itself. However, there are also some limitations:
• Setup requires a high level of knowledge in order to be successful. The software can be challenging if you are not used to working with it.
• You need to manage storage for the software patches you can quickly use a large amount of storage for software patches for a variety of operating systems.
• On-going management is required after setup, you can’t just set and run! Servers need to have managed re-boots, this helps make sure a service or piece of software comes up after an update.
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