There's a utility called Windows Update which lets Microsoft update your computer through the Internet to make sure it's safe and secure. Windows 7 has Windows Update turned on as standard to download the latest priority updates (known as Important Updates), but Windows Update can be used to download optional new features and software as well.
- Click Start and type Windows Update into the search box
- Select Windows Update from the list of results - it should be the first in the list
Windows Update will load and you should see the green shield which tells you that all the latest important updates are installed. If not, you'll see an amber shield telling you that important updates need installing.
Next to the shield you'll see if Optional Updates are available. Click this to see the choice of available updates.
- Place a tick in the box next to each update you want to install then click OK
Windows Update will download and install the updates. This may take some time depending on the size and number of them. Your computer will need to restart once it's finished the install to configure them with Windows. It's a good idea to save and close anything you are working on while the updates are downloading.
To make sure your computer is always up-to-date, it's best to set up Windows Update so it will scan for updates on a regular basis:
- Click Start, go into the All Programs menu and open Windows Update
- Choose to Change Settings
- Select Install Updates Automatically
- For Recommended updates, put a tick in the Include recommended updates when downloading, installing or notifying me about updates box, then click Apply
Windows Update will automatically check for any important updates whenever you go online. However it can also check for optional updates which might add new features or updates to either your computer's hardware or software programs.
These updates aren't installed automatically, but you can easily check them by:
- Choose Windows Update from the Programs section
Click Check for updates
Click Optional to see the additional downloads and place a tick to the left of each available optional update you would like to install
- Click OK; now click Install Updates and Windows will download and install the selected updates
Your computer will now download any new patches and fixes on a regular basis. If this has never been done before, or hasn't been done in a while, it may take some time to get all the updates and you may need to restart your computer, after it installs certain things. It's worth it in the long run, though - your computer will perform much better when it's kitted out with all the latest tools.
- Click Start, go into the Settings menu and open Control Panel
- Double-click on the System icon
- Click on the Automatic Updates tab
- Select Automatic, and edit the time of day it checks for new updates if you want to
- Click Apply
Your computer will now download any new patches and fixes on a regular basis. If this has never been done before, or hasn't been done in a while, it may take some time to get all the updates, and you may need to restart your computer after it installs certain things. It's worth it in the long run, though - Your computer will perform much better when it's kitted out with all the latest tools.
Occasionally Windows Update fails to install an update or causes a problem. The easiest way to fix most Windows Update problems is to use Microsoft's Fix It.
- When the "File Download - Security Warning" message appears, click Run
- If you're prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Yes
- Click Accept on the Microsoft Automated Troubleshooting Service Setup page
Click Detect problems and apply fixes for me (Recommended)
- The Fix it tool will start and automatically fix any problems it finds. Once troubleshooting is complete, you'll get a summary screen letting your know what has happened to your computer.
- Click Close, restart your computer and Windows Update should be working once again