We’ve all seen it, that little pop-up in the bottom right corner of the screen, letting us know that important software updates are available.

It can happen at any time. You could be in the middle of composing an urgent memo, vital internet research, or watching the latest video of a cat riding a Roomba while wearing a shark costume. It’s much easier to just click the ‘x’ than to restart the computer, and wait until the green light of productivity is once again illuminated.

While there may be a plethora of reasons why many people choose to ignore software updates, the risks are real. Let’s examine a few of them.

You may be running out of date or inefficient software.

Believe it or not, you rarely receive a completed product when you purchase software. Somewhere within the millions of lines of code are more than a few bugs. When a software company releases a product, the developer will support that product for some time after release. This means that they’re on the lookout for problems that were missed during the quality testing phase of development. When these problems are discovered and fixed, they release a patch that takes care of the issue in the form of an update. If you’re not installing these patches, you are unnecessarily exposing yourself to program errors.

Not updating also means that you are potentially missing out on many great new features and improved functionality. In essence, you could be making your life more difficult and less productive by simply ignoring the updates.

You may be a cyber-criminal’s favorite type of person.

Seedy sorts exist in every corner of the online world. We’d like to think that most of them are easily recognized by now. The person on Craigslist who wants to buy your classic Pong cabinet through a proxy. The Army Sargent who desperately needs to ship $5,450,240.32 to the states and is willing to give you a cut of the action; these are scams that most of us should be familiar with by now.

But there are much more sophisticated thieves hanging out in the dimly lit back alleys of 1’s and 0’s. They look for weaknesses in your software, unguarded back doors to your important financial information, credit card numbers, contact info; your identity. Heavily used programs like Java and Flash are often targeted by attacks because they interact directly with the internet. So much so that Flash attacks are the most popular way to infect a PC.

Luckily, companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Adobe, and many others are constantly monitoring these risks and patching up any holes they may find in their security. However, their valiant efforts are worth nothing if you continue to ignore update reminders.

By not updating, you may be putting your network at risk.

There’s a good chance that you are working on a network, a system of computers linked to each other. If this is the case, you could be a portal in which cyber-criminals or system killing viruses get access to every computer on the network. Imagine a scenario where the IT guy announces that the reason for a 2 day productivity shutdown and the loss of thousands of dollars in revenue came from your computer. It’s not exactly something you would want hanging over your head during the next performance review.

It’s not too late.

Given the above risks, updating your operating system and software shouldn’t seem like the chore it once did. It gets even better. You can easily set important updates for programs like Windows to run while you’re sleeping. It should be noted that some updates suggest you install an affiliate program. This can be avoided by simply paying attention to each screen and checking, or un-checking, the appropriate boxes. It’s always important to update directly from the software developers official site or make sure your notifications are coming from their automatic update utility.

If it’s been awhile since you ran important operating system or program updates, now may be a good time.

And there it is; the relief of security that only an updated computer can bring. Regular updates not only keep your systems secure and running more smoothly, they provide a comforting peace of mind that costs only a few moments of your time.

Contact DWD if you need assistance with your operating system and software updates.