I know many people that get really concerned about updating their computers. Every time we do an update there are always warnings to shut everything off, don’t turn off your computer, the update may cause problems or conflict with something we have in our computer, and on it goes. So how do you know if the update is safe? How do you know when to be concerned or worried?
Well here are some things to think about.
1. General Software Updates
If you’re updating something simple like your e-book reading software and something goes wrong, chances are good you can uninstall or delete the software and try it again. It is very unlikely that it’s going to go so badly wrong that it will shut down the entire system. Just make sure the software you are updating is not running and relax.
2. Operating System Updates
If you are updating your operating system, Windows for example, you need to be a little more cautious. Because those updates tend to affect necessary system files, having an update run badly has more potential to cause problems. Now that said, major updates done through Microsoft have built in protections in place. Often if something goes wrong, the installer simply begins the uninstall process and aborts the installation. It’s much less dangerous than it has been in years gone by.
I always recommend installing Microsoft’s security updates week to week. As hackers find holes in security Microsoft issues updates to plug those holes. It is important to keep your computer secure. Microsoft often also provides updates to other software on your computer. Again, completing those updates is a good idea.
3. Firmware Updates
This is probably one of the most dangerous kinds of updates to do. Firmware updates are updates to specific files that certain pieces of hardware need to function. Errors or issues with this installation process can make the hardware unusable. You don’t always have to do firmware updates. Unlike Microsoft security updates, which you should do regularly, firmware updates are not required unless the update is providing additional functionality you need or solving a problem you have. It is best not to do firmware updates unless absolutely necessary.
4. Driver Updates
What’s a driver? It’s software that allows your computer to use the hardware you have in your computer. So for example, you may have a video card in your computer. Without the driver, the video card won’t work or won’t work properly. Driver installations that go wrong usually aren’t the end of the world. They will not render your hardware useless, although they may create some difficulty with your computer. Typically just removing the offending hardware and the driver will solve the problem.
5. Recovery Options
So something has gone wrong. Now what? Here is a list of things to try, in no particular order, depending on the problem.
- Uninstall offending software
- Remove offending hardware
- Use System Restore to go back to last known working state
- Re-download new software or drivers before trying again. Sometimes files get messed up during download.
- Replace hardware that has had a failed firmware update
- Try running software in compatibility mode if you get errors about conflicts or compatibility. Here is a little guide for Windows 7 users. http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/using-windows-vista-compatibility-mode/
- Ask a computer technician to help you.
My final thought is this, software shouldn’t be scary. Whether you’re updating what you already have or installing something new, the process is generally the same every time. Once you’re familiar with it and you learn what to expect you’ll be better prepared to deal with problems if or when they occur. Keep your computer updated! It’s an important part of keeping your computer running the way you want it to.