3 Reasons Why You Should Be Running The Latest Windows Security Patches & Updates

Windows Update Logo   3 Reasons Why You Should Be Running The Latest Windows Security Patches & UpdatesThe code that makes up the Windows operating system contains security loop holes, errors, incompatibilities, or outdated software elements. In short, Windows isn’t perfect, we all know that. The latest Windows security patches fix the vulnerabilities and errors in Windows and associated software, and they occasionally add new features. This essentially summarizes why you should regularly run a Windows Update.

In case you are still not convinced, let me elaborate a little more on the three main reasons why you should install the latest Windows security patches and updates.

1. Protect Your System From Malicious Software

Hardly any code is perfect and sooner or later weaknesses will be identified. Security issues are the worst possible errors, as they may be exploited by malware to access and potentially damage your system. Here is a description of a cumulative security update published in December 2011:

Security issues have been identified in ActiveX controls that could allow an attacker to compromise a system running Microsoft Internet Explorer and gain control over it. You can help protect your system by installing this update from Microsoft. After you install this item, you ay have to restart your computer.

Windows Security Update   3 Reasons Why You Should Be Running The Latest Windows Security Patches & Updates

Security issues are regularly identified in various parts of the Windows operating system, including ActiveX, Internet Explorer, .NET Framework, or the main platform. Even if you do not run the respective software, it is a risk not to patch it, simply because it is installed on your system. Note that these updates are required, even if you are running anti-malware or anti-virus software, as that software may not sufficiently protect you from Windows security issues.

Potential consequences of not installing security updates are damaged software, loss of data, or identity theft. Every year, malware causes damage of millions of dollars worldwide. The main reason is that users don’t install critical software or Windows updates, allowing malware to exploit loopholes that have long been patched. Vulnerabilities can potentially be exploited within hours of them becoming publicly known. So once a security update is available, you should immediately install the fix to protect your system from malware attacks.

2. Resolve General Windows Issues and Bugs

The second type of update addresses more general bugs and issues of the Windows operating system. These updates typically contain several fixes in one go. Below is the generic description of an update published in February 2012:

Install this update to resolve issues in Windows. For a complete listing of the issues that are included in this update, see the associated Microsoft Knowledge Base article for more information. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

Microsoft Knowledge Base Article   3 Reasons Why You Should Be Running The Latest Windows Security Patches & Updates

While these non critical errors are not responsible for security-relevant vulnerabilities, they may still be very annoying as they potentially impact the performance and stability of Windows. So the main reason for installing general updates is to avoid or resolve Windows issues and hopefully have a smooth and pleasant Windows user experience.

3. Access New Windows & Software Features

Finally, Windows updates often introduce new features, while also fixing some known issues. A good example is Internet Explorer. Even if you don’t plan on using the respective software, you should still run these updates, considering they often come with significant improvements and you may end up being forced to use the software after all. Moreover, Microsoft will eventually cease support for outdated software, e.g. old versions of Internet Explorer. This means that if new vulnerabilities are discovered, they will not be patched, as users are expected to run the latest version of the program.

Conclusion

It is critical to install security updates to protect your computer from malicious attacks. In the long run, it is also important to install software updates, not only to access new features, but also to be on the safe side in terms of security loop holes being discovered in outdated programs. And it is in your own best interest to install all other updates, which may potentially cause your system to be buggy.

I recommend to download Windows updates automatically, but choose whether and when to install them. Do, however, make an effort to install them as soon as possible. Rebooting really isn’t that bad!

Windows Update Settings   3 Reasons Why You Should Be Running The Latest Windows Security Patches & Updates

How do you handle Windows updates? Have you ever had to roll back an update or did you ever suffer the consequences of not installing an update? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

17 Comments -

0 votes

Dhanushka

I selected ” Don’t download updates automatically, but notify me when they are available “. Because it takes lot of  time and might slow down the internet connection too. Usually I install security updates immediately and keep the rest to install later. Because I think it consumes space and affects the system performance and slow down the computer. If I installed Microsoft Security Essentials and installed the latest updates, will it be enough? And I learned a lot from your article. Thanks a lot.

0 votes

Tina

Dhanushka,

a slow internet connection could indeed be impacted by these downloads, so disabling automatic downloads is a good idea.

In addition to Windows Security Essentials, I would recommend to install a third party antivirus software (e.g. Avast or Avira AntiVir), as well as a malware scanner (e.g. Malwarebytes).

Glad the article was helpful for you!

0 votes

Josh Navarro

MSE is a very bad AV. i’ve tested it, as well as seen other tests, and it fails miserably. avast isn’t that bad but there are other free, better AVs i’d recommend such as comodo internet security, or kingsoft AV 2012

0 votes

Tina

Thanks for the heads-up and the recommendation, Josh.

0 votes

Kieran Colfer

Did a windows update one time, they updated some generic graphics driver for my onboard intel gfx card. Straight after I rebooted, a quarter of my screen started greying out. Within a few mins, my whole screen had gone. Seems there was a pre-existing problem with that batch of graphics cards (bad quality control in HP) and whatever dud update had gone out through windows had fried my onboard gfx chip, which meant a new motherboard and $600 down the toilet. So, since then I’ve  been very careful with what crap I allow microsoft to put on my machine. 

0 votes

Tina

Kieran,

if that had happened to me, I would also be careful with automatic updates! In fact, I have had my issues with Windows updates in the past.

So how do you decide what to install and what not?

0 votes

phoenix

I suffer the consequences of not installing (a)n updates. Lots of programs don’t work properly anymore.

0 votes

Tina

Could that not be solved by simply installing the updates?

0 votes

Avastyu

I choose 
” Don’t download updates automatically, but notify me when they are available ” because I have limited internet speed. But I will still download the update…

0 votes

Tina

Good point!

0 votes

peg

Well i lost my acer flatscreen monitor with this last windows update of march 2012 – i am at my wits end with it and am now using my old dinosaur gateway ev700 monitor on here so i can still use the puter (hp pavillion media center edition 1630n – new guts in it from a computer shop tech so about a year old but still win xp – which i prefer to the other os) so i check and see this software distribution update and did search and found all sorts of uglies about that so i uninstalled the update and restored back to a couple days (luckily i still had some restore points – i saw also where this thing will remove that from your system) but it did no good so I went back and reinstalled the updates for security and it had nvidia updates as well – hmmmm so i did it and went to the nvidia site and got the most recent driver(s) – still no good no monitor its black and done i guess cuz if this monitor works why won’t it. I will now no longer allow auto updates from windows/microsoft – especially for other items (like video card etc) that microsoft has nothing to do with in the first place – i feel they fried my monitor somehow with a auto restart (probably several times in a row – i dunno for sure but i was asleep when it all took place and woke to a bsod from it)

0 votes

Tina Sieber

Peg,

sorry to hear that you had such a severe issue with Windows update.

I find it hard to believe that a simple Windows update could damage hardware. Does that screen still work with other computers?

0 votes

Ralph Patrick Villaluz

My settings for the Automatic Updates is on “Download updates but let me choose whether to install them” in my Vista laptop. While my internet connection is somewhat fast and not have experienced any slowdowns while the updates are downloading, my biggest gripe is having them installed automatically without me knowing what updates are being installed. There was one time my laptop got SP2 installed automatically, and the consequence was that no sounds were coming out; what was worse was that I don’t know what audio driver I needed, so I had to reformat my laptop. Ever since then, I have Automatic Updates in the setting that I have right now.

0 votes

Tina

I take it you also check every update that was downloaded before you allow it to be installed. How many updates on average do you reject? How do you know whether or not an update will cause an issue?

0 votes

alfE

its the ultra hidden updates that bug me with windows 7, things like hotfixes that are hard to find for non techies, and visual basic redistrib’s , masses of them alone! (well if you run x64 apparently you need x86 and x64 versions for optimimum compat!) any chance you might know more about tracking down the right hotfixes for non-techs Tina?

0 votes

mac microsoft office 2011

I am really inspired along with your writing skills and also with the format in your blog. Is that this a paid subject matter or did you customize it yourself? Anyway stay up the excellent high quality writing, it’s rare to peer a great weblog like this one today..

0 votes

Josh Navarro

it’s sad how often i see people not update their computers. thje same people often us IE too. /sigh