Don’t wait for the latest fixes for your software and hardware – install them yourself.Nik Rawlinson explains how to get essential updates to keep your PC running smoothly and securely Windows generally does an excellent job of keeping itself healthy. Yet, however useful Windows Update might be, there’s still plenty it doesn’t do. It’s blind to many third-party programs and less-common drivers – and even conspires with Microsoft to ‘throttle’ big updates.
Table of Contents
- Force Windows to check for updates
- Patch Windows apps and programs
- Detect and update outdated drivers
- CONTROL WHEN UPDATES ARE APPLIED
- Manually update your drivers
- FORCE YOUR ANDROID PHONE TO UPDATE
- Patch My PC Review
- Keep your programs safely up to date
- Ashampoo Driver Updater Review: Ashampoo Driver Updater – or is it?
- The missing manual: Windows update
- Auslogics Driver Updater Review: Keep your device drivers up to date with this latest
Force Windows to check for updatesWindows updates aren’t always delivered as soon as they’re available. As we’ve already mentioned, large downloads, such as operating system updates, are often rolled out in stages, and there’s no telling how far down the line your PC is set to receive them. Fortunately, you can jump the queue. Open Settings by pressing Windows+i and click ‘Update & security’. Click the ‘Check for Updates’ button and Windows will present you with a list of the latest available patches. Any that apply to your computer will be downloaded and installed – or queued for installation next time you reboot. Windows Update downloads patches for the operating system, Microsoft programs and hardware components Click ‘Advanced options’ and make sure the slider below ‘Receive updates for other Microsoft products when you update Windows’ is on (to the right). You can optionally do the same to the slider two lines below this, for restarting as soon as possible, so that you’re asked to reboot whenever a patch has been downloaded. Windows will always give you the chance to save and close your work before restarting. If you still can’t see an update that you know has been released, you can often download it manually from the Microsoft Update Catalog site (bit.ly/catalog483). Use the search box to hunt for the patch you need. If you had been chasing the May update to Windows because you needed to install it before going on holiday, for example, searching for 1903 would locate it. Be careful what you download, though. Because you’re not using Windows’ built-in update tool, you won’t benefit from the compatibility checks it performs. Rather than directly clicking the Download button for any entry, click the update’s hyperlinked name in the left-hand column to display a summary of what it contains, then read through the pages linked beneath either ‘More information’ or ‘Support Url’ for the complete lowdown. If you’re still in any doubt, close the browser window and wait for it to appear in the usual manner.
Patch Windows apps and programsWindows Update checks for Windows patches, core hardware updates and firmware patches and, optionally, updates to Microsoft applications such as Office and Skype. Updates to non-Microsoft software downloaded from the Microsoft Store are delivered through the Store itself. To find them, open Microsoft Store from the Start menu and check for a down-pointing arrow to the right of the toolbar. A number beside it represents a count of available updates. If the arrow and number are missing, your Store applications are up to date. If you’re happy to cede control of Store updates to Windows, click the Patch My PC Updater identifies outdated programs installed on your PC and quickly downloads updates for them three-dot icon the end of the toolbar, followed by Settings, then make sure the switch below ‘Update apps automatically’ is on (to the right). For third-party programs downloaded from the web or installed from CD or DVD, you’ll need to use their integrated update features (explore the Help or Edit menu because these are common locations for update triggers), check the manufacturer’s website or use an update tool such as Patch My PC Updater (bit.ly/patchmypc483). This brilliant free tool doesn’t need to be installed, so just launch it from your Downloads folder and it will scan your PC, comparing the software it finds against a database of updates. It’s impressively fast. Outdated software will be coloured red in the list of results and ticked in the list of applications beside it. Uncheck any you prefer not to patch, then click the Update button at the foot of the window to bring them up to date. You can also use Patch My PC’s list to install applications from scratch, without having to visit each developer’s site in turn. Everyday essentials such as Firefox, LibreOffice and Malwarebytes are included, along with more than 350 other popular programs.
Detect and update outdated driversOld drivers can conflict with more recent Windows releases to cause instability. Not all manufacturers distribute revised drivers through
CONTROL WHEN UPDATES ARE APPLIED
Manually update your driversFrom time to time, you’ll need to update a driver manually, perhaps because a manufacturer has sent an alert to registered users. If the driver isn’t bundled with an installer, you’ll need to apply it yourself. Before you start, you should create a system restore point to which you can roll back in case anything goes wrong. Click Start and type restore, then click ‘Create a restore point’ at the top of the menu. Click Create in the dialogue box that pops up and, once the restore point has been set, close the System Properties window. Click Start, type device and click Device Manager in the results. Browse the categories until you find the one into which the updated component fits. For example, in the screen grab on the right, we’ve expanded the ‘Sound, video and game controllers’ category, then right-clicked our sound device and picked Update Driver from the context menu. This gives us two options: ‘Search automatically for updated driver software’ or ‘Browse my computer for driver software’. Click the second option, then navigate to the download and apply the update. If you don’t have an installer for a driver, apply it manually via Device Manager
FORCE YOUR ANDROID PHONE TO UPDATEUnlike iOS, which runs in a broadly similar fashion on any iPhone or iPad, Android can be implemented slightly differently by each manufacturer, so the precise instructions for updating it may differ between handsets.
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