These days, your personal computer's operating system is in a constant state of flux. Patches, security fixes, and enhanced features are added to the operating system frequently. To keep your system up to date and secure, it is a good idea to periodically run the Windows Update utility and download the latest and greatest fixes for Microsoft Windows.

Requirements for Using Windows Update

You must have Internet Explorer installed on your computer to make use of Windows Update. Internet Explorer is available

How Do I Start Windows Update?

Windows Update is a web based application that can be started from within Internet Explorer or from the Start Menu on your computer. The screenshots below show two different places that you can locate Windows Update on your computer. (Note that these screen shots were taken using Microsoft Windows XP…if you have a different version of Windows, your screen may appear slightly different.)

Windows Update in the Start Menu
Windows Update appears in the Start Menu
Windows Update within Internet Explorer
Windows Update appears as a menu choice in Internet Explorer

Once you start the program, your computer will communicate with Microsoft's web site to determine which files and updates are needed for your system.

How Long Does the Update Process Take?

The very first time you perform the update process, it may take several minutes to an hour to complete the process. This is especially true if your system is missing one or more service packs or if you are using a slow internet connection.

How Do I Enable Windows Update?

Your system must be configured to allow Windows Update to function properly. To make certain that your system is properly configured, you should look at the System Properties window on your computer. You can find this window by right-clicking on the My Computer icon on the desktop.


It is generally a good idea to choose the Automatic Update option as shown in the screenshot above. This enables your computer to perform updates on a regular basis without having to remember to start this process manually.