Are Automatic Updates a Good Thing?

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What are your thoughts on automatic updates? Windows updates, but also automatic updates for my spyware and antivirus programs. I have several and I have automatic updates turned on on all. Could this lead to problems by leaving my computer open to the net?

This one’s easy: I love automatic updates.

Let me explain why, and how to make sure your automatic updates are safe and doing what you think they are.

I’ll also explore one area where things have gotten worse instead of better over the years.

Read moreAre Automatic Updates a Good Thing?

Can I Delete Old Updates?

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As time goes by, I get updates on different programs, which are stored on my computer and taking up space. Can I delete earlier versions as new ones are updated?

The answer to your question really depends on exactly which updates you’re talking about – as well as exactly how they’re delivered and installed.

Read moreCan I Delete Old Updates?

Is there Software that Will Allow Me to Keep All the Software on My Machine Up to Date?

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Leo, is there a program updater out there that you recommend? I’m currently running Windows 7 on my laptop and Windows 8 on my desktop.

The answer really depends on what you mean by program updater. If you mean a third party program that will somehow keep track of all the various versions of all the various software that you have installed and try to manage updates for you, there are a couple to try. But it’s an incredibly difficult problem to solve and solve well.

Read moreIs there Software that Will Allow Me to Keep All the Software on My Machine Up to Date?

Do I Need to Install IE 11?

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Hi, Leo. My computer’s an HP Pavilion Slimline desktop PC. My operating system is Windows 7, Home Premium, 64-bit, Service Pack 1. I noticed in the last Windows Update, Internet Explorer 11 was included. IE 11 was included in the important updates. Now, I remember IE 10 was an optional update. Do I need to install IE 11? I’m still using IE 9. Would I have to install IE 10 before I install IE 11?

Let me answer the last part first: no, you won’t need to install IE 10 before IE 11. Windows Update would actually show you IE 10, if that was what you needed first.

Instead, as you noted, IE 11 is included immediately with Windows Update. Now, I’m not really sure what the criteria for important or optional might be according to Microsoft, but in general, my tendency would be to take the update.

I want to talk a little bit about why you should take the update, and my theory on why it changed from “optional” to “important”.

Read moreDo I Need to Install IE 11?

Do I need all these Office 2007 updates if I also have Office 2010?

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I’m running Windows 7 Home, 64-bit, SP1 on an HP laptop. Originally, I had Office 2007 Professional installed. I subsequently bought and installed a standalone copy of Outlook 2010. Later, I bought and installed a copy of Office Home and Student 2010. I did not uninstall Office 2007 because I wanted to retain the ability to use Publisher 2007. Now, when I run Windows Update, it wants me to install all of the updates for both 2007 and Office 2010. Why would I want to install updates to Word or Excel or PowerPoint or Outlook 2007 or install 2007’s huge SP3? Should I?

Yes, you want to take that update. If you have parts of Office 2007 on your machine and you have Office 2010 on your machine, then you want all of the updates for all of the software that’s installed on your machine. It’s more than just minor improvements and whatnot; it really is all about security.

Read moreDo I need all these Office 2007 updates if I also have Office 2010?

What is InstallShield and Do I Need its Update Service?

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Recently, I did a scan with Autoruns from Microsoft Sysinternals to see what I was loading at log on. I have a program called “ISUSPM.exe” loading at log on. I do not remember seeing it before so I did a search – and answers at Microsoft.com states that it’s “InstallShield Update Service Scheduler” and it searches for updates for software on my computer. It stated that it’s not needed and it can be unchecked/removed from starting at login. Have you seen this? What is it? What software does it update? Where did it come from? Do I need it? Can I safely remove it without leaving my software vulnerable?

InstallShield has been around for years and it’s certainly nothing malicious. In fact, most people have probably already used its software at one point or another.

InstallShield is the set up and installation technology that’s used by many other software vendors to write the set-up programs for their products.

Read moreWhat is InstallShield and Do I Need its Update Service?

Are Silent Background Updates a Good Thing?

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I have a little philosophical question: what’s the difference between Google Chrome silently updating in the background without me ever giving it explicit permission to do so, and malware updating itself in much the same way and getting new commands to wreak havoc? In fact, I believe Google Earth also updates itself with no explicit permission. At some point, it suddenly showed up in my frequently used programs as a new program even though I already had it. If there’s a clause in the User Agreement that says they can, it becomes a legal issue where the question is whether they can just change the Agreement after a user agrees to a different version of it.

Well, I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not going to address legal issues. But I bet the agreement probably contains terminology to give them permission to do silent updates.

It’s one of those things about legalese: lawyers can always interpret it in a way that allows them to say you agreed.

The concern I have with your question is that you seem to be very distrustful of these silent updates and consider them akin to malware.

I strongly disagree.

Read moreAre Silent Background Updates a Good Thing?

Do I need to run the Malicious Software Removal tool?

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I have a Fujitsu laptop running Windows 7 with Service Pack 1. It’s running fine. I used Microsoft Security Essentials per your recommendation. After reading your last newsletter about manual updates, I went searching around the MS download site and found out about the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool and Microsoft Security Scanner. Should I download both of these and run them? Or are they earlier versions of software that are now wrapped up in Microsoft Security Essentials?

I wouldn’t necessarily consider them wrapped up with the existing software. But you don’t have to worry about them. Let me explain.

Read moreDo I need to run the Malicious Software Removal tool?

Managing Windows Update

Windows Update is one of those more-or-less magical components of Windows that we all know should be turned on and that we all hope never causes us a problem. When it’s working properly, it’s something that we can usually just take for granted.

There’s actually more to Windows Update (or “Microsoft Update,” if you have it configured to update all your Microsoft products) than simply downloading and installing the latest security patches for us.  For example, you may want some updates but you’re not aware of them.

And there may be updates that Windows Update offers that simply annoy you.

Let’s look at managing Windows Update a little more proactively.

Read moreManaging Windows Update