To update or not to update? When it makes sense to wait

SOFTWARE companies never seem to tire of reminding us to update their products, warning that those who dither will be struck down by viruses or miss out on improved features. But is it true?

When it comes to security updates, you should generally install them as soon as possible, according to Jan Schuessler from computer magazine c’t.

However, some updates bring not only new features but also annoying ones – and technical problems. So might it be wise, in some cases, to avoid installing them?

It’s a trade-off, says Schuessler. When it comes to closing security holes, the matter is clear – if you don’t update, you risk the security of your data.

New browser versions should also be installed immediately, he says, as “these are not usually function updates, but mostly security updates.”

Updates that affect security should always be installed as soon as possible, experts say – but other software updates might do more harm than good

Schuessler, along with Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), advises setting up automatic security updates where possible. These can be enabled within the settings of most programmes.

For programmes that don’t offer the option of automatic updates, the BSI recommends that users establish a routine – for example, by looking around for updated software once a month.

It’s different when it comes to larger software updates, such as those for image or video editing programmes or other productive software.

Here, you should always pay attention to what exactly has changed in the software. Sometimes, developers impose a payment model, or some functions may no longer be available after an update.

When it comes to major version jumps for operating systems like Apple’s iOS for iPhones and iPads, Mac OS, Android, or Windows 10 for PCs, those who wait may be missing out on new features – but they could also be avoiding the teething problems that often come with a major new release. Why not bide your time and wait for the update that fixes those issues?

But such restraint shouldn’t be maintained forever. Sooner or later, Schuessler says, the developer will stop providing security patches for older versions of an operating system: “Then it’s no longer a matter of taste whether you install the new version.” – Text and Photo by dpa