This is a question that is easily answered for the Home User. YES. Yes you need them and by not getting them you leave your PC vulnerable to viruses, trojans, worms, and anything else you can imagine that is bad for your PC.
Windows Updates are from Microsoft (the makers of Windows) so they are not malicious and are safe to download. Depending on your Operating System, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, these updates can come in a variety of categories. Home Users should be the most concerned about Priority Updates. These updates are released by Microsoft because a vulnerability has usually been reported that could expose your system to an intruder or infection. Hackers are constantly trying to find exploits and weaknesses in Windows that they can use to hack into other machines etc. These Fixes are extremely important for you to have on your PC.
When you see the Yellow shield it means you have updates that are ready to be downloaded/installed. Simply click on the shield to begin the process. The instructions are very easy to follow and usually just require Next, Yes, or Install etc. Many updates will require a restart of your PC to take effect.
Though this can be a bit bothersome, it is still well worth it to have the latest updates and patches etc. Just like your Anti-virus software protecting you against the latest threats, keeping your Windows up to date also protects you against threats. By keeping your Anti-virus Software, Anti-Spyware Software and keeping your Windows Operating System (XP, Vista, 7) up to date, it gives the Home User maximum protection. This protection against Viruses, Malware, Trojans, Worms and all the others while not guaranteed to keep you from getting infected, certainly will reduce your chances of getting infected. The more up to date your software is, the better chance your system has to protect itself from infection.
There are also Optional Updates that can be installed. These updates are at the User's Discretion. Any Security Update would be listed as a Priority Update, so if you don't install an Optional Update it will not compromise your security. You can also read a description of what each update does. Some are only for specific machines or devices. Depending on the age of your machine, you may see Windows MEdia Player in your Optional Updates. Usually it is not a Priority update as it not a Security related concern, but is something most people would probably want the latest version of. Others are bit more obscure.
Another category of updates is Hardware. This category is one where the idea and theory behind it was pretty good but in the real world doesn't work very well. The idea was to have Windows Update manage the latest Updates to Hardware no matter the Manufacturer etc. The problem with it was that Windows was usually far behind on the latest drivers. Sometimes by more than 2 or 3 versions. Very rarely should you ever download a Hardware update via Windows update. Hardware is controlled by Drivers (Next Week's Topic) so we won't cover it here. The Bottom line is stay away from Hardware updates via Windows Update.
Priority Updates should always be download and installed for the latest security updates. When you see the shield, you should install and apply the updates etc. Optional updates can be installed at your own discretion but are not needed for Security purposes. Hardware updates, stay away from them as they are most likely old and out dated. At Zolex PC, we always keep your Windows up to date. Though it can take a little extra time, the benefit is well worth it. By keeping your Security Software and your Windows updated, you are reducing it's chances of getting infected. Thanks for reading.
Next Weeks Topic: Drivers, Drivers and more Drivers.
Temporary Internet Files are files that are stored on your computer so that certain Internet Pages that you frequent will load faster. This is done so if you go to www.foxsports.com everyday the page will load faster as only changes that have been made to the page need to be downloaded via the Internet. Anything that hasn't changed would be stored on your PC thereby allowing the web page to load faster. They can be pieces of pages (header or buttons) or an image even. These files while harmless in most regards can eventually take up an enormous amount of space on your hard drive if you don't periodically clean them. Sometimes this can even run into the Gigabyte range.
This can cause your machine to run slower while surfing the Internet and even while not surfing. The more files and data that are on your PC, the more your processor has to search through to find what it is looking for. Your Processor may have to scan through thousands and thousands of Temporary Internet Files just to open up a Document or folder. While this time may not seem like much, be it a few seconds, it increases the amount that the PC has to work. This could mean longer scans for your Anti virus software as it would have to scan each item.
Thankfully there is a pretty easy solution to this problem. You simply can delete your Temporary Internet Files through Internet Explorer or Firefox.
Depending on which version of Internet Explorer you have the process may be different. For Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8, while you have the browser open, click on Tools, Options/Internet Options. Once in here make sure you are on the General Tab of Internet Options and click Delete under Browsing History. If you don't want to delete your cookies or your history be sure to remove the check mark. Click Delete button. Close the window and you are done.
If you use Firefox, the process is similar depending on what version you are using. The latest version Firefox 3.5 is quite easy. While the browser is open, click on Tools, Clear Recent History. Again be sure to remove any check marks from anything you don't wish to be deleted. Older version of Firefox are Tools, Clear Private Data, place check marks what you wish to delete and then click Clear Private Data Now. Congratulations you have just deleted temporary internet files from your PC!!
There are some programs available on the Internet that are more thorough than these two here but they may require some technical savvy. At Zolex PC we use a few of them but they are not recommended for the average user. By deleting your Temporary Internet files you can surf the Net just a bit faster and help your PC stay healthy. You should clean your Temporary Internet Files around once a month or so. Thanks for taking the time to read today's blog.
A Root kit is one of the nastiest infections you can have and u don't want one. If your PC is vulnerable or the USER clicks on something they shouldn't have, Root kits can enter your system the same way any regular virus, or malware can. Once they get in you are in for a host of trouble.
One of the things that makes a Root kit different from a normal virus is where it resides on the infected PC and how it hides itself from detection by Windows. After the Root kit is installed it will start up with the hardware drivers when you start up your PC. These drivers etc. all load before Windows itself loads so that once you get into Windows the Root kit and all of its friends are already up and running on your system. The infection usually has to be killed while Windows isn't running. Usually this is done during a reboot of the system.
These infections can be extremely dangerous to your PC as the Root kit can also damage important Windows System Files possibly forcing a Repair or Re-install of Windows on your PC and potential Data Loss. Root kits can create all sorts of havoc on your system, taking control of it and restricting your Access to your own files even. The infection can create files, hide files, delete files, and just about anything else that is unpleasant for your PC.
Only skilled Technicians should be removing Root kits. Though there are some tools out there to remove them, the tools are very dangerous and if used improperly can permanently damage your system. If you are the lucky recipient of a Root kit, back up your important data and have your machine serviced by a professional. I recommend www.zolexpc.com if you get one.
Thanks again and happy surfing.