I’ve had a few people as recently “What are patches?” To put it simply, patches are software updates provided by the manufacturers. There are many different types of patches, some are very important and some less so.
The most important patches are security patches. And the most important of these are applied to the operating system. If you’re running Windows or Mac operating systems, then these can be largely automated. Patches for other software are usually considered less important, but are sometimes issued. Anything that’s really important will start to quicly show up in blogs like this one.
Feature updates provide new features and functions, but also often include ‘rolled up’ security patches. These are often a good chance to catch up and make sure everything is updated. These usually come out twice a year and offer lots of new features as an added bonus. Don’t miss out on these, but don’t rely on them for security updates. Security updates are issued at least once a month, and if necessary more frequently.
Hackers keep an eye out for patches and will try to exploit computers that are not updated. So don’t fall behind on your patching. End user computers are a soft target for hackers and can lead to ways to infiltrate bigger and more lucrative targets.
It might seem like a tedious processs, but it’s much better to spend a few minutes once or twice a month, than to lose hours or days when your computer is hacked.
If you’re running Windows or Mac operating systems, then it’s probably best to put your computer into a semi-automatic update mode. This allows your computer to contact Microsoft or Apple regularly and check for updates. It will then prompt you to update if it detects updates are needed and you can install the patches. If you’ve set working hours and miss the prompt, it will update automatically overnight (or in the time you specifiy).
If you’re running a Linux operating system, chances are you know a bit more about your OS, but doesn’t mean you can ignore patches. Choose an update option that suits your working style. A similar semi-automatic approach is recommended.