Author: Jonny Hatch
Service Technician for Allgaier Consulting
My father, a practicing pediatrician, constantly advises patients to eat healthier foods. In response, they complain of how expensive eating healthy is. My father always replies, “Think how expensive your doctor and hospital bills will be if you don’t take care of your body. Plus, you will feel a lot better!”
In much the same way, staying current on our software ensures the best, fastest working systems possible. Effective technology allows businesses to increase profitability and everyday users to simplify their lives. As we keep our software up-to-date, we will need to consider (1) why software updates are vitally important, (2) how often we should update our devices, and (3) how to update our systems.
Why Should I Update?
System updates perform 3 vital functions: Providing new functionalities and features that did not exist before, adding system patches, and providing security updates.
First, when I update a device, I am most excited for the new functionalities and features that come with the update. I love to see the new emojis release periodically by apple. I love the new features to the Maps app or to Safari. Yet in some ways, the system patches and security updates influence me more than the new features do.
Second, system patches help to fix bugs in your current system. Often times, I will talk with a person who complains of poor network connections, slow processing speeds, and overall poor system performance. But, their machine hasn’t been updated since 2 years ago! Over these two years, they likely missed features which increased internet speed, eliminated system bugs, etc. After all updates are applied, their system runs close to flawlessly. Neglecting system updates may save time in the short run, but it will cost you time and money farther down the road.
Third, both Microsoft and Apple constantly release new security updates to keep their customers protected. Hackers work furiously creating viruses, bugs, malware, etc. to infiltrate your system. While Microsoft and Apple have to play a catch-up game of sorts, they do remarkably well in releasing protections against these bugs. Wait! But there is a catch! Apple and Microsoft cannot force you to protect your system. Without updating your system, you leave yourself increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
How Often Should I Update?
How often you update your device depends largely on your situation. For most users, a monthly or bi-monthly update is plenty. For those of us in the Tech Industry, we like to update quickly. Kevin updates his devices almost daily! I suggest setting time aside each month to update your devices. While your systems are updating, become device free for a few moments: read a book, take a walk, enjoy the sunshine!
How Do I Update My System?
For most users, I recommend configuring your devices to run updates automatically. This takes much of the burden off of the end user. Of course, some updates must be installed manually, for this purpose, I recommend taking time once a month to make sure all your systems are up-to-date.
To configure automatic updates on a Mac, go to System Preferences > App Store, and check the following options:
- Automatically check for updates
- Download newly available updates in the background
- Install app updates
- Install macOS updates
- Install system data files and security updates
Enabling these features will allow your Mac to install updates as frequently as they come. Don’t worry though! Your Mac will not restart without prompting you first. If the prompt comes in the middle of an important episode of Avatar the Last Airbender, you can post-pone the restart to happen outside of your normal usage hours.
If you would like to check for updates manually, navigate to App Store > Updates.
Note: For large updates, such as upgrading operating systems, be sure to backup your current system in case of adverse effects.
iOS currently does not install updates automatically. Instead, you will see a notification icon on your Settings app. To install the update, go to Settings > General > Software Update. I recommend checking for updates about every other week.
All in all, individuals can avoid slow machines and security vulnerabilities by staying on top of software updates. For most desktops, updates install in the background, allowing you to continue to work on tasks. This is not the case with all updates, but even so, updating software is probably one of the quickest, best ways to get the most out of your technology.