How to Help Your Computer Survive Software Updates

by Barrett

Do you feel like you’re playing Russian roulette whenever a message pops up to update your computer’s software?  Here are six tips to keep the odds in your favor…

Do you feel like you’re playing Russian roulette whenever a message pops up to update your computer’s software? Here are six tips to keep the odds in your favor…

You’re happily typing away at your computer with your cup of Joe.
All your software is functioning properly.
Your media is backed up.

It’s a moment of digital harmony.

Suddenly, a message appears in the center of your screen.
“New software is available for your computer. Would you like to install it now?”

Ooohh… free updates to make your Apple computer even better!

Endorphins get released at the mere thought of enhanced computer functionality, and your trigger finger quickly moves towards your keyboard.

Then your left brain screams, “Wait!!!”
Maybe tinkering with a good thing isn’t always such a good idea.

And even if the word “critical” is attached to the update, you should always think twice about when and how you do your updating.

Because the truth is….
Your computer and its software will probably perform the same after a recommended software update.
But sometimes, things aren’t quite the same.

My experience has run the gamut. It’s ranged from minor settings having to be reset to my computer not wanting to reboot!

Total disaster like that is rare, but there’s really no way to know for sure what’s going to happen.

It feels a little like Russian roulette.

Six Tips to Promote Successful Software Updates

Here are a few tips to help ensure your software updating adventures go smoothly:

1.  Do Nothing
One thought is – If it “ain’t” broke, don’t fix it.
Close the update window and go about your digital day.

But if you fall too far behind in your software housekeeping, you’ll eventually end up with a different set of incompatibility problems generated by your neglected software.

And if the update is more about security than functionality, you’re leaving your computer in a vulnerable position.

So, sticking your head in the sand is a strategy you shouldn’t rely on for too long…

2.  Back It Up First
I know I’m not the first to mention this, but it bears repeating…
If you’re going to take the plunge and introduce new bits and bytes to your computer, no matter how few, you should make sure you’ve got yourself a fully updated back-up drive waiting in the wings.

Follow the same precautions as you would when downloading a brand new software package.

3.  Do Your Research
You really don’t have to be the canary in the cage.
Just Google the software update, and I promise you there will be lots of folks talking about their own experiences with the update.

4.  It Doesn’t Hurt to Wait a Bit
Even if your research fails to turns up any red flags, why not wait a week to make sure you’re not amongst the first to encounter a glitch?

5.  Close the Necessary Open Programs
Usually, Apple’s Software Update utility will prompt you to close the requisite programs before beginning the software update process.
A single click usually can perform this step.
(It really can’t get any easier!)

That said, I recently ran into a little roadblock while performing Microsoft Auto Updates. (which runs separately from Apple’s utility)

Two crafty Microsoft processes suddenly became stubborn and wouldn’t automatically close upon request with the rest of their cousins.

The offenders-

  • Microsoft Database

After some frustration, I eventually realized you need to call upon a more powerful utility to deal with these little critters…

Activity Monitor to the Rescue!
You can find this digital ally in your Utilities folder, which lives in ‘Applications.’
Open Activity Monitor, and it shows you everything that’s running on your computer.
(How cool is that?!)

Just locate your two unwanted guests and zap them away with the ‘Quit Process’ button.

The glitch is now gone, and your software update process is free to move about the cabin…

6.  Do the Updates on Your Own Schedule
You don’t only have to do the software updates when your computer asks you.  (and doesn’t that always seems to happen when you’re in the middle of a deadline?!)

You can call up the updates whenever you want and when you’ve got a little more time to consider these tips.

The Software Update utility is the second listing when you click on your Apple Menu on the very top left of your screen.

Whitewashing Your Digital Picket Fence
Performing software updates is a necessary chore that’s both a blessing and a curse.

It’s designed to be a no brainer, but leaving your housekeeping to an auto pilot program can easily lead to an unexpected crash.

Don’t pretend to be a digital Tom Sawyer. There’s never an easy way out…

Life is a hands-on experience.
Why should your digital life be any different?