Software Updates are an important part of periodic maintenance for the programs that keep your technology running. If the “Check Engine” light came on in your car, would you keep driving until the car finally broke down completely? No, you see the “Check Engine Light”, and if you are like most people, you get your car to the mechanic as quickly as possible to have the problem investigated and repaired.
When a Software Vendor, such as Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle (Java), or Apple, releases a Software Update, that is the equivalent of of the “Check Engine Light” telling you there is a potential problem in your technology that needs to be addressed and fixed as quickly as possible.
You have probably noticed that major software vendors that release a large number of patches categorize them in to three basic categories: Critical – as in “ignore at your own risk and peril”; Recommended – as in “I would if I were you”; and Optional – as in “We really think you should install this for the new feature, but the choice is yours.”
Some vendors release Software Updates on a periodic schedule like Microsoft with “Patch Tuesday”, the second Tuesday of every month, to help customers plan and schedule maintenance. Others release Software Updates on an as needed basis and ALL will usually release a critical patch as soon as available.
If you are the type to change your oil “per the car manufacturer’s recommendations” and follow the recommended scheduled maintenance, then you should be following the Software Update Patch schedule of your software vendor and applying the updates as soon as possible on the same scheduled, periodic basis.
Most software products and computers have an “auto-update” feature that is turned on by default. This is usually the best setting for the majority of users. The software or operating system or computer, “phones home” to the Vendor to get notice of any updates and either automatically installs the software update or notifies you that one is available.
To drive home the point of the importance of Software Updates, I just spent the last seventeen hours updating and undoing the damage caused by lack of scheduled maintenance on a File Server. The “Check Engine Light” was on for over a year and no one took any action. You might say I did a transmission rebuild, flush and fill of the radiator, and removed the sludge in the oil pan, all in one service call. Considering that I earn at least as much as an auto mechanic, this was an expensive repair job. And, the company lost two days of productivity with no access to their accounting system, files, or email.
Since few, if any updates were applied by the prior computer consultant, instabilities in the software manifested themselves and caused a cascading failure of the operating system. Conflicts between various drivers – special pieces of software that tell the Windows operating system how to interact with the hardware – and the Windows Server Operating System were causing the infamous BSOD – “Blue Screen of Death.”
Software Updates fix things before they break – and so should you by applying them.
However, if you find that you too have ignored the “Check Engine Light” on your technology and need some after the fact assistance, consider me like the “Triple A – American Automobile Association” and feel free to contact me for a “Tow” back to the Computer Repair Shop garage to get your systems back in working order.