The Importance of Keeping Your Operating System Up to Date

In today’s working environment, we tend to take updates to our computers for granted. While in college, I had a friend that swore he didn’t need Windows updates and had ‘automatic updates’ completely disabled on his laptop.

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These software manufacturers work hard to keep our PC’s up to date and also can provide these updates to be installed automatically to your device.

These updates include software bugs/patches, driver updates for devices, security updates and minor enhancements to make a user’s live a bit easier.

Some consequences of not doing these updates could be:

  • Devices not working due to out of date drivers
  • Security loopholes for viruses & malware
  • Cyber attacks

If you are using your own device at work (BYOD) and it has to connect to a network that we maintain, then we would insist on automatic updates being turned on.

Wi-Fi issues due to lack of OS updates

Recently, an engineer encountered an issue with a several users, at a prestigious client of ours, disconnecting from the network via Wi-Fi. Upon investigation, it was found that the users that were having theses issues were using Apple devices such as the Apple Macbook and Apple Mac Pro. When these devices were checked, it was found that operating systems were not being kept up to date. Researching the topic of Wi-Fi and problems with Apple products, brought up the release notes of OS updates confirming that there were patches for Wi-Fi related issues and forums of users having issues connecting to or disconnecting from Wi-Fi networks. This issue had originally been logged as an issue with the Wi-Fi access points but the lack of updated devices was proven to be the issue in the end. Once the updates were installed, the users could connect via Wi-Fi again.

Since figuring this out, we’ve seen also it in cafes and hotels where guests are having trouble connecting to the Wi-Fi offered there. In hospitality, guests expect the Wi-Fi to just work. However, in these cases, the only solution is for the guest/user to update their machine.

How to know if you have automatic updates enabled

Your best course of action to make sure you are protected and kept up to date is to check and see if you have ‘Automatic Updates’ enabled on your device.

On an Apple Mac, updates can be found in the ‘Mac App Store’ (OS X Snow Leopard v10.6.6 and later). To set automatic updates, you must go to ‘System Preferences’ then ‘App Store’. Here, you will find a selection of check boxes relating to ‘Automatic Updates’. Checking these will keep your Mac up to date.

In earlier versions, this can be found under ‘Software Update’ in the Apple menu.

The screenshot below is an example of what you would need to have checked on an Apple Mac running OS X:Mac_App_Store_settings

On a Windows OS, this can be found under ‘Windows Updates’.

Here is a screenshot from Windows 8.1 where you can change the option for how your computer performs its updates:

stop or Disable Windows 8 or 8.1 auto update step 4