Update your operating system, but you really should back it up first

Do you pay attention to the nagging popups to install updates to your computer’s operating system?

Apple and Microsoft both have some pretty decent upgrades to their respective operating systems rolling out this fall and if your hardware can handle it, you really should upgrade.


Well, I’d say security is one of the big reasons. Hackers are constantly looking for ways to get into our computers to steal our personal data, and believe it or not, Apple and Microsoft spend millions of dollars each year to try and keep our systems secure.

As vulnerabilities are discovered, either by hackers, researchers, engineers or even the general public, Apple and Microsoft are busy creating patches to the system to close up the holes.

These operating system updates and patches cannot help keep your data safe if you don’t apply them.

I’m occasionally asked to help friends and family members with their computers, and one of the first things I look at is how long it has been since they upgraded their system. One of my first questions is usually why they are behind on installing updates.

“Oh, that’s been popping up for a while now, and I’ve just been clicking ‘later.’ ”

I hear that a lot.

Window users should be using an antivirus program as well as keeping up with OS patches and upgrades.

Microsoft is rolling out its Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, and Apple has just released High Sierra, the annual Mac OS X update. Both of these are a pretty big deal.

You really should consider upgrading. Both companies try to make it as painless as possible, but sometimes problems do occur.

I’ve written about my issues getting High Sierra installed on my Mac, but I didn’t let those little problems keep me from getting the upgrade installed eventually.

Both Mac OS X and Windows 10 should show you a popup message when there is an update. If you click on the message, it should open the upgrade install window.

If not, you’ll find it in your system preferences or control panel.

But before you upgrade, you really should have a full backup of your computer’s hard drive. I can’t stress this enough. My recent issues with High Sierra on my Mac would have been really bad if I didn’t have a recent backup to reinstall.

Mac users can find Apple’s built-in backup program called Time Machine in their system preferences. You may also see a popup window appear when you plug in a new external hard drive asking if you’d like to use it as a Time Machine backup destination.

Windows 10 users can type Backup in their Windows search bar and find the backup preferences in the Update and Security control panel. There, you can specify a drive to use as a backup.

You’ll need an external drive at least as large as your internal hard drive to store the backup.

So if you want to upgrade, your homework for this week is to make sure you have a proper backup.

Next week, I’ll talk about the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and what it has to offer.



Jim Rossman writes for The Dallas Morning News. He may be reached at jrossman@dallasnews.com.

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