Should I?

This week, we answer three frequently asked questions:

  • Should I update it?
  • Should I replace it?
  • Should I renew it?

Should I update it?

Surprisingly, often when I repair a computer or perform routine maintenance on a computer, I’ll find a big whack of updates waiting to be applied.

If you have Windows 10 Home edition, it pretty much updates itself. It’s almost impossible to stop that. But other programs need to be updated, too. In general, if you are using a program and it prompts you for an update, you should update it.

These programs include:

  • Java
  • Adobe Reader
  • Any browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.)
  • Any anti-virus program
  • Adobe Flash Player
  • iTunes (If you don’t use it, uninstall it. If you use it, keep it up to date.)

Updates to those programs tend to be security-related more than performance/feature enhancements.

You might have a specific reason not to update a specific program (“I heard it was bad,” usually isn’t specific enough for me…), in which case hold off. You may subscribe to the theory of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

That’s fine as long as you realize that if it wasn’t broken, no one would be issuing an update for it.

Some anti-virus programs, including the free version of Avast, notify you when programs need to be updated. If you don’t have an anti-virus program that does that, then be guided by the requests from the programs themselves to update.

Should I replace it?

Desktop computers, if you properly maintain them, should last at least five years. Most will last longer than that. The main reason people replace desktop computers is that they are under-powered or RAM-deprived. In short, they are too slow.

When you replace a computer, replace it with something more powerful and with at least as much RAM as your old computer.

Laptop computers won’t usually last as long. If you have a laptop for five years, it doesn’t really owe you anything. Start budgeting to replace it. Again, replacing it with another under-achieving laptop doesn’t make for a good computing experience.

You are backing up those computers, aren’t you? How old is the external hard drive you’re using for your backups? I replace mine every three or four years.

Should I renew it?

Are you using a paid anti-virus/anti-malware program? That means you’re subscribing to it, and eventually you will need to decide whether to renew the subscription or not.

When you buy a new computer, it usually comes with a trial anti-virus subscription. Sometimes that’s 30 days. Sometimes it’s more. Whatever that subscription is, trust me, the program will begin nagging you well ahead of time, urging you to renew your subscription.

That’s the time to ask yourself if you are happy with that product, and whether it’s worth the time and effort of uninstalling it and replacing it with something else. If you don’t want to pay for whatever it is you have, you must uninstall it completely before you install something else.

The choice is yours, but whatever you do have a working antivirus program on your computer. Just one, but a working one!

What have you been wondering about updating, replacing, and renewing?

Send email to [email protected] and I’ll try to help.


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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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