Configuring Windows Update in Windows 7

December 27, 2010, By Christian Cawley

Your Windows 7 computer will be default regularly check for updates online, with the aim of downloading and installing vital additional software to assist with the safe running of your computer. Such updates might be improved device drivers or security fixes, service packs for Windows or Microsoft Office or even option language packs.

Using Windows Update with its default settings, you will have very little interaction with the utility, although you might be surprised at just how flexible it is.

Updates can be delayed or even ignored, and you can also schedule when Windows Update runs in order to minimise impact on your own use of the computer.

Using Windows Update in Windows 7

Checking for Updates

In order to take advantage of Windows Updates and the fixes and additions to the operating system that it affords, by default you need to nothing; Windows 7 will check and apply fixes automatically. However if you want to take a look at the settings or run a manual update, you will need to go to Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Update.

On the left hand menu you will see several options. One of these is Check for Updates, which will of course connect your PC to the Internet (if a connection is available) and check with the Microsoft Windows Update servers for any fixes.

If any are found, these will be listed, and on the main Windows Update pane you will see information pertaining to this. To check the updates, click 13 important updates are available (you might have a different number displayed) and decide whether to install or ignore the updates by clearing or filling the checkboxes. Once you’re done, click OK and Install updates.

Changing Windows Update Settings

There are other settings in Windows Update that will allow you to decide whether to check or ignore the updates or even prevent them from installing automatically.

Access these options in the Change Settings screen; there are four options, as follows:

Install updates automatically (recommended) – this is the default option and requires little configuration

Download updates but let me choose whether to install them – with this option you can skip updates that you don’t feel are relevant

Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them – similar to the previous choice, this is particularly useful if you have a slow internet connection

Never check for updates (not recommended) – this option will basically disable Windows Update, and is best used on closed or standalone systems.

Further Windows Update Options

Depending upon which Windows Update type you select, further configuration options are available. For instance if you opt to Install updates automatically then the Install new updates: scheduling system will allow you to specify when to check and install the updates.

The Recommended updates checkbox will allow recommended and important updates to receive the same priority when downloaded and installed, and is useful used in conjunction with Microsoft Update, which is used if you are running additional Microsoft applications.

You should also pay attention to the Who can install updates box, which will toggle between allowing all users to install updates and limiting update installation to the Administrator account.

Update History

Finally, you can keep tabs on what has been downloaded and installed in the View update history screen, found in Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Update.

As you might expect, this view displays the name of the update, its status and importance as well as the date installed. Right-clicking and selecting View Details will explain the nature of the update and its purpose, the date of installation and whether a PC restart was necessary. This is a useful auditing feature that might help you identify why your PC restarted at any given time.

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