BRINGING YOUR COMPUTER UP TO DATE
How often are you getting messages on your computer that your Operating System (OS) is in need of an update? Those little pop-ups – triggered by your current OS – are more than just a nuisance. They're warnings of a sort. Warnings you say? Yep… truth is, they are. Why? Lots of reasons.
Regardless of what computer you own – a Windows based PC, a Mac, laptop or desktop – the manufacturers of those computers are constantly bumping up the performance of their software and hardware to meet the demands of today's technology. Sometimes that entails minor patches to current systems. Other times it means a whole host of updates and upgrades to both software and hardware. Keeping your system up to date is one of the most important things you can do to keep your machine running at its peak.
UPDATING YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM
Both Windows and Mac computers are set up to automatically look for updates and patches. They do so by first knowing what OS you're currently on then they match uninstalled patches that are available for that OS. Many of those patches were created to close vulnerabilities that have crept up since the initial launch of the OS version you're on. Some are simply upgrades that allow the OS to take full advantage of new technology, be they new features in Internet Browsers, Social Media or Apps. Either way, patches play a big role in your systems health.
Not updating opens the door to trouble. Security issues remain the top reason manufacturers put out these patches. A system that has not been updated is subject to viruses, malware or hacking of all types. Should you not know for sure if your system has available updates, look for a "Check for Updates" option in your Help menu. That's something you'll need to do if you've unchecked the "automatic updates" feature in your operating system's preferences.
These types of updates are easily done... usually just a click and follow instructions routine. Once the update is done you'll be prompted to restart and voila.... you are done!
UPGRADING YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM
This one gets a little trickier for the layman. It may have been years and years since you've upgraded, and considering that most systems see completely new OS's every two or three years, you might find yourself a couple of upgrades behind. Often that means you'll need to purchase upgrades from one version to the next to get to the next highest level – and yes, that means you may have to upgrade a couple of times to get to where you want to be. That in itself can be a daunting task for the average computer user.
There's also the fact that some OS upgrades were in fact considered a mistake. Many users panned Windows 8 as being a huge step backward in speed, reliability and usability. When preparing to upgrade your OS it's best to do your homework and choose to upgrade to a version that has definite benefits with few or no drawbacks.
The most commonly used computer operating systems today are Microsoft's Windows and Apple's Macintosh OS 10. Both have different versions of the OS (for example: 8, 7, Vista and XP for Windows and 10.9 or "Mavericks" and 10.8 or "Mountain Lion" for Macintosh) so you may find that some updates only affect specific versions.