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Staying on Top of Your Operating System Updates
  • 25 December 2017
  • Daniel Vahab

Staying on Top of Your Operating System Updates

What do you typically do when you get one of those pesky reminders that you need to update your software? If you’re the type of person that just ignores them, you may be putting yourself and your business at risk. It’s important that you keep all of your software up-to-date, which means performing the operating system (OS) updates when they become available.

If you’re not a techy, you might not even be sure which OS you should be paying attention to. An OS is the software that powers the core functions of every desktop, laptop, smart phone, and tablet. Big updates to your device's OS are usually released annually, while smaller updates are released on a continual basis. These updates serve to fix mistakes or gaps in technology, improve cybersecurity protection, and provide new technological innovations.


Before updating your device, Apple recommends that you consider backing up all your files. You can back up a mobile device with either iCloud or iTunes. If you have a Mac computer, you can use the Time Machine feature and connect an external drive for seamless backup. You can also store content on your computer in iCloud, put it on burned CDs or DVDs, or copy files to an external storage device such as a USB. It is a good idea to set up automatic iCloud backups as a safety net.


Once you are confident your files are backed up, you can start updating your OS. If you are using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you will need to download and set up the newest version of iOS. These devices usually deliver a pop-up message that notifies you when an update is available. In that case, you can simply tap "Install Now" to start the process. Your device will then walk you through the necessary steps.

You may need to delete files or programs to make room for the update, so make a note of all the apps, images, and documents you would not mind temporarily removing (and then reinstalling). This is one of many reasons why backing up your files is a good idea.

For Apple's desktop and laptop computers, the latest OS upgrade you can currently get is macOS High Sierra. Click here to see if your Mac can use High Sierra. In order to use this operating system, your device generally must be from 2009 or later, with a minimum of 2GB of memory and 14.3GB of storage space. Again, you may need to delete files to free up space.

When it’s time to update your computer, find the latest release in the MAC App Store and click "Download." From there, you will be walked through another series of simple steps. Follow the prompts on the screen to finish completing the update.

After an OS installation is finished, you will usually be asked to restart your device. To ensure your documents do not disappear, remember to save and close out any open documents or programs before restarting.

One of the best things you can do to make sure your device is always running the latest OS is to enable automatic updates. Just like automatic bill pay, this feature offers peace of mind so you do not have to remember to manually check for updates every couple months. Simply go to "System Preferences," click on the "App Store" icon, and check the box next to "Automatically Check for Updates."


All Windows laptops and tablets have a Windows Update application that you can use to check for OS updates. If you wish to update other apps, like Microsoft Office products, at the same time, you can also download Microsoft Update for free. Microsoft Update allows you to check for updates to any Microsoft applications your business may be using, as well as updates to some third-party products.

To check for OS updates, open the Start menu and search for the update platform of your choice—either Windows Update or Microsoft Update. Open it and select "Check now" to see if there are any updates available. If there are, follow the prompts on the screen to update your device.

It is worth noting that if you are on Windows 10—the latest Windows OS—your computer should be checking for OS updates by default. So if you have a computer that supports Windows 10, you can do that one big upgrade and then rest assured that you will stay up-to-date from that point on.

In order to ensure your device has the latest security and technology features, you must update its OS on a regular basis. The steps outlined here are quick and easy. Be sure to act on update reminders right away to avoid the risk of an outdated operating system that makes you more vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.

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