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Q: How do I install important patches for my computer's software and operating system?


If you have software updates enabled on your operating system, your computer is already installing the important patches.

Patching Tips

Turn automatic updates on

Configure your computer to receive updates. Across platforms, the Update feature provides automatic or manual options and several levels of frequency. We recommend setting the updates to occur automatically and as frequently as possible. A daily update allows patches to download the same day they are released. A weekly update holds all patches from that week and downloads them together.

Know what is being updated:

If you have automatic updates turned on, you will receive messages letting you know if updates are available and what is being updated. Windows and Macintosh computers only receive automatic updates for software from their respective companies. Any third-party software running on the machine, including browsers, will update separately. Make sure you check the third-party software's update feature for how this works.

Learn about other Windows options:

Win domain computers: Some computers are automatically patched when part of a server service such as In that case, no set up is required; your computer will receive updates automatically.

Subscribe to WAUS: Provided by MIT for Windows users, this service downloads critical security updates after they have been determined to be safe and compatible by IS&T.

Know when updates will be available:

Unless you read technology news, you'll only know there's been an update when automatic updates is turned on. The two most popular operating systems patch on different cycles:

  • Windows: Microsoft releases their biggest security bulletins the second Tuesday of every month. They may also release some out-of-cycle patches when necessary.
  • Macintosh: Apple bundles patches in their security updates and also releases individual software patches for bugs and other flaws several times a year as needed.

A printable version of these tips can be downloaded here.

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

December 23, 2015

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