This article explains how to perform updates for Windows systems. It is primarily written for users of Windows 2000 and Windows XP. The section about getting your updates using Windows explorer will also work for Windows 98 and Windows 95 systems. Example screen shots are from Windows 2000.
Emergency Boot Disk and System Backup
It is always a good idea to be sure you have an emergency boot disk and back up your data regularly. This is especially true before performing system updates since if something goes wrong during the update process you may need to repair your system. Even though Windows provides mechanisms to recover from errors that happen during system updates, there is no guarantee that the recovery process will always be successful. While your updates are being performed, if your computer loses power, it could cause harm which may or may not be recoverable. You can read about Making a Windows Emergency Boot Disk here and Backing up your Windows System here.
You should re-create your emergency boot disk whenever you install software on your operating system or perform updates. How often you back up your data depends on how much data you are willing to risk losing. If you back up your data once per week, then if you have a failure, you could lose up to one weeks worth of data.
Windows Update Methods
There are two primary ways which Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems may be updated. They are:
- Download updates from Microsoft’s windows update website at Microsoft Windows Update Site. Read the page Using the Microsoft Windows Update Site for details.
- Configure your Windows Update tool to get updates automatically. Read the page Configuring Microsoft Windows Automatic Updates for details.
If you are using Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows ME, you will need to use the first method which is the Microsoft Windows Update site.
Windows Update Frequency
If you use the automatic updates, your system will check for updates when you are connected to the internet. If you use the Microsoft Windows Update site to perform your updates, I would recommend you do it about once per week.
Updating Your Windows System
- Windows 2000/XP – If your operating system is Windows XP or former, you should update it to Windows Vista, Win7 or higher, because Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft.
- Windows 7 – You can find out about updates at
- Windows XP Professional – You can find out about updates at
- Update your internet browser with the latest version on a regular schedule. If you use Internet Explorer, update it to version 10 or above by using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Downloads site.
- Microsoft Office Updates – If you use Microsoft Office, you should keep it updated. You can read about how to update Office by reading the article Preventing Viruses in Microsoft Office® Products.