Choosing Windows updates

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For most people, the safest setting for Windows Updates is to automatically download and install the updates as they come in. You can choose that option by going to Control Panel – Automated Updates or Windows Updates.

The other options are to have the updates download, but not install until you say. Or you could have them not even download at all until you authorize it. The problem with these options is that the majority of users don’t really pay attention closely enough to when updates are available, so they would never get any Windows Updates at all. And that’s dangerous, because those updates usually patch up security problems with Windows.

But what if you do want to monitor it, and only install certain updates? You can certainly do that. Here’s how.

When you see the little yellow shield in the System Tray, that is your alert that Windows Updates are available. You can click that icon to bring up this window (click for full size):

As you can see, you should choose the option that says “Custom Install”. That’s the easy part.

The next screen is where you have to make your decision(s). This is where you will see a list of the available Windows Updates, and you have to decide which ones to get or reject. They will all be checked by default, so you have to uncheck the ones you don’t want.

How do you know? That’s the big question. Frankly, there are only a couple of Windows Updates about which I would be hesitant:

1. Windows Genuine Advantage – I have written about this in the past. It has incorrectly determined that some computers are running a pirated copy of Windows, when in fact the installed operating system was perfectly legitimate. You only need WGA if you are going to visit the Windows website and get non-critical updates (Critical Updates are available, even to pirated copies of Windows). So you don’t really need this, but if you already have it and it hasn’t caused any problems, that’s okay.

2. Windows XP Service Pack 3 – This is the third major package of Windows Updates, and is specific to the XP operating system. For the majority of users, this downloads and installs with no problem. For a small percentage, it messes things up. Eventually, if you continue to use a computer that has XP, you will need to get it. You just don’t need it yet. Again, if you already got it and your computer suffered no ill effects, you’re fine.

This week’s video shows a cop doing something that a cop really shouldn’t be doing.

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