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Update Your Operating System

Even though your computer may be brand new, its operating system probably isn't completely up to date. Automatic Updates will ensure that your system always receives the latest critical OS fixes, most of which plug security holes. With all new PCs that have Windows Service Pack 2, you'll be prompted when installing Windows to choose whether you want Automatic Updates or not. We strongly recommend that you do.

Even with Automatic Updates enabled, it's still a good idea when you first go online to make sure you have the latest updates right away. (Automatic Updates are scheduled once every 24 hours, and by default, at 3:00 A.M.) Since you're now firewall-protected, it's safe to connect.

If you're lucky, connecting the Ethernet cable from the router's WAN port to your cable or DSL modem will give you instant access to the Internet. Go straight to the Windows Update site ( ). You may see a prompt recommending you install Microsoft Update. This is a good thing to do since it covers more products than Windows Update. Install any critical or security updates, starting with SP2 if for some reason your new system doesn't already have it. Some updates can't be installed in conjunction with any others, and some require a restart when finished. After installing what you can, go back to the Windows Update site to double-check whether there are more critical or security updates. You can install lower-priority updates later, when you've finished armoring your system by choosing Custom Install, rather than Express Install on the Windows Update Web site.

Once you're sure your system has all the latest updates, you don't need to keep returning to Windows Update. From now on, you can rely on Automatic Updates to keep your system current.

Another product you can use to update your machine is AutoPatcher. It is meant for updating machines that are offline. If your machine is way out of date (i.e. SP2 installed but no other updates), it can get you up to date in one shot. Also, if you're on dial-up or some other slow connection, you may want to download the (~290 MB total) packages at a friend's house and create a CD. If you only have one computer and have high speed internet access, you will want to just go the Router -> Firewall -> Windows Update route. I've found that AutoPatcher often has more Recommended and Component updates than what you can get from the Windows Update site. Again, even if you use this, turn on Automatic Updates to keep current.

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