Once again there are urgent security patches released for Windows, and this time the problems they fix are Potentially Catastrophic issues with the encryption stack. This is why you should have Windows install updates automatically.
It’s possible you leap into action every time you see the security notification, but many people don’t. And, if you do, what’s the point of installing critical security updates manually? Just have them install themselves.
Patches Should Be Installed as Soon As Possible
You often need to patch security problems as soon as possible to fix whatever the problem is. After a patch is released, the security hole becomes public knowledge if it wasn’t already. Attackers now know the problem and can rush to start exploiting it as soon as possible before people update. Attackers know business and home users are often slow to update, and they can wreak some havoc in the time before people patch.
Just selecting “manually install updates” and installing updates when you remember to do so isn’t really good enough. You want Windows Update to install those updates for you automatically. For software like your web browser and browser plug-ins, you also want to leave automatic updates enabled — thankfully, that’s the default these days. If you disable automatic updates for Firefox, Flash, Adobe Reader, or other important software, you should go turn them back on right now.
It’s Not As Annoying As You Think
Automatic updates get a bad rap. In Windows XP and Windows Vista, your computer might automatically install updates while you get up for a coffee break and have rebooted itself by the time you get back. You could lose all your work if you weren’t there to stop the 10-minute automatic reboot countdown. This led to many people disabling those automatic updates.
But Windows has improved since then. Windows 7 and 8 are configured to install updates at more convenient times, often when you reboot or shut down your PC if possible. On Windows 8 and 8.1, there’s a much longer grace period — you see a “you recently updated, so you need to reboot your PC” message, but your computer will wait three entire days before rebooting on its own. You’ll have plenty of time to restart on your own terms without losing your work.
That’s right: You don’t have to click a button every four hours to postpone the reboot. You can actually use your computer without being harassed! If only Windows 8 and 8.1 didn’t have so many other problems that are making people cling to Windows 7.