How to update your computer

Maintaining your computer with the latest updates is one of the most important things you can do to keep your information secure and avoid crashes. Use our guide to find out how to update your PC.

How do I update my PC?

Although each new version of major operating systems includes more maintenance tasks that run automatically, there are still some tasks you should perform to keep your computer updated. An updated computer allows you to run the newest programs hassle-free.

It’s also important to keep your PC updated to avoid viruses and other malware. Hackers are always looking to exploit holes in operating systems and apps that will allow them to send a virus, install adware, or install spyware.

Software companies combat the hackers by putting out updates to their products. It’s important to install these updates to keep your computer operating securely and efficiently.

Updating your Microsoft® Windows® computer

Windows 10 will automatically install Windows & app updates. To make sure your software is up-to-date, first click the Windows icon, select Control Panel, then select System and Security, then Windows Update. Click Check for updates to manually check for additional updates.

For earlier Windows versions, the same process is possible, but check to make sure you haven’t turned off Windows Update. If you get messages prompting you to install important updates, install them.

Be sure to reboot when prompted; rebooting is an important part of the installation process. If you wait to reboot, the queue of items can be very long and rebooting will take longer. Some updates can be installed only after other updates, so if it’s been a very long time since you rebooted the updates can get stalled looking for other updates.

Anti-virus software

You should have anti-virus software running, and updating, to keep your computer safe. There are many kinds of anti-virus software, including anti-spyware, anti-adware, and anti-malware. The important thing is to install software that checks automatically for updates to keep your computer free of malware.

App updates

Be sure to turn on automatic updates when installing any new app. That way you get the most recent versions with protection against any known vulnerabilities hackers can exploit.

If there isn’t an option for automatic updates, be sure to check the seller’s website for updates. Never click links sent by email, as these might not be sent from the seller and can contain malware or phishing attempts.

Driver updates

A driver is a piece of software that tells a specific hardware component how to run. Generally, drivers are updated automatically, but if you are having trouble with a piece of hardware, check the seller’s website to see if there is an updated driver and download any that are recommended.

To find out the exact name of the hardware component, click the Windows icon, then select Control Panel, then Hardware and Sound, and click on Devices and Printers. The window will list all the hardware items you have installed.

Windows 7 Devices & Printers window

Troubleshooting performance issues

If you have updated your operating system, apps, anti-virus software, and any drivers and your system is still having performance issues, try these options.

You need to restart your PC

It’s easy to always leave your PC on; everything you were doing is ready when you come back to it. But leaving everything running all the time can create slow response times. Restarting closes forgotten apps running in the background and clears the memory cache. Restarting can also trigger updates and patches that require a restart.

Be sure to restart properly, by going to the Start menu and selecting Restart or Shut Down.

Too many open apps and tabs

Apps and web browser tabs use valuable RAM resources, even when you’re not directly interacting with them. To combat this, re-configure apps that start automatically if you don’t need them when you first start your computer and close any web browser tabs that you’re not using.

If you use Microsoft® Windows®, you can see the apps that are using memory right now:

  1. Hold down the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys at the same time
  2. Select Start Task Manager
  3. Open the Processes tab

See which programs are using the most resources and decide if you can close them. Be careful which processes you do close, as this might affect the important background tasks running on your machine.

Windows 7 Task Manager window, Processes tab

Hard drive is corrupted or fragmented

Hard drives can become corrupted from a variety of sources, including hard or cold shut downs (just pressing the power button while the computer is running). Follow these steps to check if your hard disk is corrupted:

  1. Click Start, select Computer, right-click on your hard drive and select Properties
  2. Click Tools, under Error-checking, click Check now
  3. A Check Disk dialog will appear, select both options, then click Start
  4. Click Schedule disk check
  5. Close all open programs, then restart the computer. The check will take some time, so keep your PC turned on and connected to a power source.

To avoid problems with hard disks, upgrade your computer to a solid state drive. Learn more about solid state drives here.

Windows 7 Disk Check window


If there is an error message when the check completes, consider upgrading your drive.

Think your computer might need an upgrade? Find out more about upgrades for your device.

Not enough RAM

Many computers can be sped up with the addition of more memory (RAM). To see how much memory your Windows computer has, follow this process:

  1. Click Start and then select Control Panel
  2. Select System and Security, under System, select View amount of RAM and processor speed
  3. The amount of Installed memory (RAM) is displayed 

Find out more about how to install more memory on your desktop or laptop computer.

Windows 7 System & Security Window


A memory (RAM) upgrade is ideal for improving responsiveness, running apps faster, and multitasking with ease. Because nearly every computer operation relies on memory, it’s essential to have a surplus of RAM to allow for sudden peaks in memory demand; and that’s why a memory upgrade is one of the best ways to improve PC performance. Use this guide to see how much memory you need.

Your computer should now be up-to-date with the latest versions of all your apps and games. This will help you not just to run programs faster, but also to browse the internet more safely.

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