Cornell University

Technology Services

146 Ives Hall, 607-255-5484

Windows Update and Automatic Updates

To aid you in securing your computer, Microsoft has provided both a web page where you can download security patches and a small utility that will automatically update your computer.

Windows Update Website

The Windows Update web site will automatically apply any security patches you need when you visit it.

Instructions for Using Windows Update

  1. If you are asked if you want to install a program from Microsoft answer "Yes".
  2. Then click on the "Scan for updates" link.
  3. After the scan finishes, click the "Review and install updates" link
  4. Click the "Install Now" link.
  5. Click "yes", "ok", or "I agree" in response to any warnings that pop up.
  6. Reboot your computer if you are asked to when it finishes.
  7. Repeat the above steps until the number of Critical Updates your computer needs is reduced to zero.

Warning: Please be aware that the size of these updates can be quite large - if you are using a dial-up modem it may be easiest to go to bed after the install begins (after step 5) and reboot in the morning.

If you have never done this before, it will probably take several cycles through to get completely up to date. This can take quite a while - try to keep in mind that you may be making up for several years worth of neglect. Once you are up to date, staying that way is much easier.

Note: Microsoft also has a web site called Office Update that will apply patches to your Microsoft Office.

Automatic Updates

If you are thinking "There has got to be an easier way", you are right. Microsoft has created a program called "Automatic Update" that runs in the background and does all this for you. How this functions depends on which version of Windows you use.

To check what version of Windows you have:
  1. Right-click on your "My Computer" icon on your desktop. (If you have Windows XP, your "My Computer" icon may be in your start menu instead of on your desktop. You can still right-click it once you find it).
  2. Select "Properties" from the menu that pops up.
  3. The dialogue box that opens will display what version of Windows you have, along with other information about your computer.
  4. If you have Windows 2000 or XP, please note if it says you have any "Service Packs" installed.
Choose your version of Windows:
  • Windows 95, Windows NT, or Windows 3.1
  • Windows 98
  • Windows 2000 or Windows XP
  • Windows ME, Windows XP with Service Pack 1 or Windows 2000 with Service Pack 3 ( link to Using Automatic Updates)
Windows 95, Windows NT, or Windows 3.1

The Automatic Update feature is not available for Windows 95, Windows NT, or Windows 3.x.

Windows 98

The Automatic Update feature is not available for Windows 98. However, a feature called Critical Update Notification is available for Windows 98.

This program will check with Microsoft whenever you are online and notify you when a new security patch for Windows becomes available. It will then send you to the Windows Update web site to download the patch.

How to install or remove Windows Critical Update Notification

  1. Go to the Windows Update Web site.
  2. Click Scan for updates.
  3. Under Pick updates to install, click Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition.
  4. Click Add to select the Windows Critical Update Notification recommended update, and then click Review and install updates.
  5. Click Install Now.
Windows 2000 and Windows XP

Both of these versions of Windows can use the Automatic Updates feature:

  • If you have Windows 2000 but don't yet have Service Pack 3, you will need to download and install the Automatic Updates Feature.
  • If you have Windows XP but don't yet have Service Pack 2, you will need to download and install the Automatic Updates Feature.
Using Automatic Updates

Automatic updates will automatically check for and download any Windows security patches release by Microsoft whenever you are connected to the Internet. This is very similar to the system used to keep computers on the ILR School network updated.

The patch download is done in the background at a low priority, which minimizes its impact on you. If you configure it to do so, it will even install the patches for you as well.

How to configure Automatic Updates

  • Click on the Start menu.
  • Click Settings.
  • Click Control Panel.
  • Look in your Control Panel for the icon labeled "System". Note if you are using Windows XP you may have to click on "Switch to Classic View" to easily access the system icon displayed here.
  • Double-click on the System icon.
  • This opens a window that has several labeled tabs.
  • Look for the tab labeled "Automatic Updates" then click once on that tab. The screen shot below is from Windows XP, your screen may differ slightly if you have Windows 2000 or Windows ME.
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  • Check the box marked "Keep my computer up to date".
  • Click the last radio button next to the description that says "Automatically download the updates, and install them on the schedule I specify."
  • Set it to update every day.
  • Pick a time when your computer is on but you aren't usually using it.
  • Click the "OK" button.