Be Sure to Use Windows Update Often to Protect Against Viruses

By Kenny Williams

In light of the recent viruses that took the opportunity to exploit a weakness in the windows operating system, I have decided to remind all of you about the Windows update function found on your computer. If you want to keep your system operating smoothly and securely it is important to update your operating system as often as you update your virus patterns. This is especially true if your PC connects to the Internet full time. When you surf the Web or send an e-mail message, your PC becomes part of a vast network of computers. Although you gain access to multitudes of information and can communicate with people all over the planet, you also expose your system to hackers, viruses, and harmful programs.

Windows Update is a function that will protect your computer and its valuable data. As new vulnerabilities are discovered, Microsoft releases updates for its OSes, including WinXP/Win2000/WinME/Win98/Win98SE. Obtaining these updates is very simple if you use the built in function to auto update your windows.

Introduced with Win98, Windows Update is a Web-based service that provides updates for most Windows OSes, including Win98/98SE and Windows 2000/Me/XP. Regardless of your OS, using Windows Update is pretty easy, simply click a link and Windows Update generates a list of updates tailored specifically to your system.

To generate the list of updates, Windows Update employs a control program that automatically checks configuration information about your PC, such as OS version, Windows Product ID and Product Key, Internet Explorer version, and version numbers of related software, such as Windows Media Player. According to its privacy statement, Windows Update does not collect your name, mailing address, e-mail address, or any other form of personally identifiable information. In addition, if the control program is not already installed on your system, Windows Update prompts you to download and install it the first time you use the service.

After using the control program to generate an update list tailored to your system, Windows Update provides links for you to review, select, download, and install the updates. Windows Update also maintains an ongoing history of the updates that you download and install.

To set up Windows update open Windows Update and scan for updates. To access Windows Update, you must first connect to the Internet. Next, access the service using one of the following three methods: Click Windows Update directly from the Win98 Start menu, click Windows Update from the Tools menu in IE, or open IE and type in the Address line.

After the site verifies and, if necessary, installs the control software, the Welcome To Windows Update screen displays. Click the Scan For Updates link to find the updates your system needs. Depending on the speed of your connection, the scanning process may take a few minutes. During this time, Windows Update displays a completion percentage so you can monitor its progress.

When scanning is complete, youíll see the Pick Updates To Install screen. On the left navigation pane, Windows Update organizes the results into three main categories and displays them below the Pick Updates To Install area. The three categories are: Critical Updates And Service Packs, Windows 98 And Windows 98 Second Edition, and Driver Updates.

Critical Updates And Service Packs consists of security patches and known issues that Microsoft deems essential to your system. The Pick Updates To Install screen automatically shows the number of critical updates missing from your system. To view a detailed list of the critical updates, click the Review And Install Updates link. This displays the Total Selected Updates screen, which shows all of the currently selected updates for download and installation. By default, Windows Update automatically selects all critical updates, so all critical updates display here.

In general, if you want to remove a selected item from the Total Selected Updates screen, simply click its associated Remove button. Windows Update cleverly shrinks the item until it no longer displays on the screen. However, you can still view all updates, whether selected or not, by clicking the category links in the left navigation pane.

After you look through the critical updates, click the Windows 98 And Windows 98 Second Edition category in the navigation pane on the left. Windows Update groups these items under several headings, such as Recommended Updates and Internet And Multimedia Updates.

To verify your selected items for Windows Update, click Review And Install Updates in the left navigation pane. Windows Update displays the Total Selected Updates screen. This screen summarizes the updates that you have chosen to download and install on your system. After you verify that the list of updates on the Total Selected Updates screen is correct, itís time to start downloading. To initiate the process, click the Install Now button.

Depending on your connection speed and the number of updates selected, the download process may take some time. When the download is complete, Windows Update automatically launches the installation program to update your PC. If you are downloading and installing many updates over a slow connection, itís safe to leave the download unattended. If you do this, be sure to periodically check back and monitor the progress. When installation is complete, Windows Update displays the Installation Complete screen. At this point, youíre free to leave the Windows Update Web site.

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