I’m sure it’s happened: you switch on your computer for some instant gratification (whether a video game, a streaming basketball, etc.), and when your system boots there’s a message in the lower right corner of your screen. “Updates are available for your system.” The notice will give you a choice: Go ahead with updates or “Remind me later.” If you’re truly operating under an inflexible time constraint, then you can hit “Remind me later,” but if you have the time, do the updates. The sooner the better.

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Updates do a lot of things, and although your computer may seem to be working just fine those updates are important; sometimes, critically so.

Chief among those updates are often security updates. It’s a truism no matter how well a program is written, someone out there can edit it and cause problems that affect your operating system AND your internet security. The latest update will include patches that close off those edits and/or ensure they can’t affect your system.

Additionally, software companies continue to make changes and improvements in their product. Installing those updates allow you to take advantage of the changes and make the program run more smoothly.

The last reason is both the most obscure and the most obvious. Depending on the program, updates might happen on a set schedule, or they may happen somewhat haphazardly, possibly within days of the last update. Updates for operating systems such as Windows have a scheduled quarterly update but will also issue timely updates to fix a recently exploited flaw in the program or a new feature.

Newsflash: software programmers do not reinvent the wheel for each update. An update will feature the changes and include programming for them to integrate with your system. Sometimes, a new update may need a previous update in order to function properly: Update #33 might fix a new problem, but it will rely on programming that came with update #15. If #15 was not installed, not only will #33 not work correctly because it’s missing key data but it may introduce programming that can adversely affect your operating system because that data isn’t present. Downloading updates and installing them promptly can save you a lot of unneeded problems and help you avoid the situation of paying someone else to sort out your updates.