When was the last time you used your phone? Or computer? What about your smart TV? In today’s world, we are using some type of system technology, nearly every day and we do it without much thought. All of these systems are using software of some kind to run your device. Without it, you have a lot of gear that doesn’t do what you expect it to. In fact, it doesn’t do much of anything. In order to keep your devices working, you need to keep the systems and software that run them up-to-date.
Should I update and why do I care?
In short, yes, you should run updates, but it’s not always as simple as that. Today we’ll cover why to update, when to update, and what to look out for. Software updates are typically done for 3 different reasons:
- Patch Security Vulnerabilities
- Fix Broken Functionality
- Enhance Functionality
With phones and computers, there are security updates coming out nearly every month, so make sure your computers are updated (patched) on a regular basis. These security updates do not mean you need to update to the latest Operating System – that’s something completely different. The security patches should be provided by themselves as a standalone update. If any update says, “new version of Windows…or MacOS”, then it’s not just an update; it’s a full upgrade. Upgrades are different then updates. Those do NOT need to be applied right away.
Security updates are most important for the safety of your information and your device. For example, a security hole in your phone OS could allow your contacts to be accessible to anyone online. Other security fixes include preventing your device from being used as an “attack” bot to attack other devices on the Internet. These are just a couple of scenarios where security updates can help resolve critical vulnerabilities in your systems.
Fix Broken Functionality
Many times, software is released but still has functionality that isn’t quite working. Sometimes this is due to a scenario that happens infrequently, so it wasn’t caught in testing. Other times, it’s a known issue, but due to deadlines and product release schedules, it may be deemed as not critical and can be addressed later. This is often why a brand-new phone will already have a .1 or .01 software update coming just days after the new phone was released. There are even other times where issues come up as a result of compatibility issues with other software or hardware components. In this case, it takes time to determine the issue and how to resolve it. If you are having an issue, for example, with the iPhone and the auto-correct, you’ll want to update it to get those issues resolved.
Lastly software updates are provided to improve functionality or even add new functionality. Companies will get feedback on how the software is or isn’t working and will provide updates to improve capabilities or add functionality. Many times, these aren’t critical but can make your life easier.
What do I️ update and when?
Update as often as you can. These devices are inherently less secure than your phone or computer and are considered “Internet of things” devices and typically do not have great security on their software. Also, updates for these types of devices tend to fall off 12 to 18 months after they have been purchased because the vendors are on to the next model and typically stop updating software for them. So, make sure to update as much as you can while the vendor is still providing the updates.
Update approximately every 2 weeks. If there is a critical security update, then try to apply that sooner versus later. Normally, I️ recommend waiting about a week after the update has been out to see if there are known issues with the update. If there is, you should hear about it on various sites and know to wait until a proper update is available. If you are unsure, contact someone like myself to see what you should do.
Update within a month of release. If it’s a critical security update, then try to apply within a few days of release. Don’t be the first person to apply it though. You want to make sure there aren’t issues with the update – even if it’s just a security update. Phones, unlike computers, tend to have a major “operating system” upgrade every year. These upgrades aren’t just fixes, but also tend to include overhauls in the user interface, added features, and much, much more. These upgrades are not required immediately but typically are recommended.
Now here’s my tip when it comes to phone operating system upgrades. If your phone is less than 3 years old and was current when you bought it, it should be able to handle the upgrade just fine. I️ would typically wait 2 to 3 months after release, make sure you have a current backup, and then apply the upgrade. If your phone is 3 or more years old, or wasn’t the current model when you bought it, then I️ wouldn’t recommend doing the operating system upgrade because it will typically slow your device down. If your phone falls into this category, then just apply current updates but don’t do the operating system upgrade.
Don’t forget to perform backups.
As with any updates, make sure you have a full backup of your device in case something goes wrong. If you need help with that, please feel free to reach out to us. With Smart TVs, it’s not typically feasible to have a backup, so just make sure the device keeps power while performing the update. Your computer should have backups happening on a regular basis unless none of your data is stored on your machine.
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