Keeping Software Up-To-Date

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If you own any kind of smart device such as a mobile phone or a computer, then you are familiar with updates. Every once in a while you will receive a prompt letting you know that a new update is available for your device.

Often, these prompts are not welcome by users as they find them disruptive to the normal flow of use of the device. How do you react when you get a prompt for an update? Are you annoyed, indifferent or excited.

I would not put my money on excited as most people are annoyed by these messages. There are several justifiable reasons why a user may react with annoyance upon receiving an update prompt.

Some Reasons Why People Get Annoyed With Updates

Even though seldom the case, an update can be a technical operation for the user and some people are just not comfortable doing technical stuff. Most users are happy just using a device but get intimidated when they have to do something even in the slightest technical.

Performing a major system update may even be stressful for some because they are always apprehensive of something going wrong and will in most cases delegate the task of updating a device to a friend or relative.

Depending on what type of device is being updated and the size of the update, a user may not be able to use the device during the update process. This can be disruptive to the normal workflow of the user.

Another reason why users may not be keen on updates, is a matter of data usage. All updates involve the download of data from a remote server which may at times be massive amounts of data.

Some users may find these data downloads impacting their set quotas for data usage. On some devices, such as on Linux, the user is able to choose which updates to download and apply whilst other systems such as Windows do not offer you the privilege and automatically download and apply all updates.

Reasons Why You Need To Update

As annoying or inconvenient as it might be to update the software on your device, it is something you must take seriously and update whenever possible. There are good reasons why you need to update the software on your device.

Software goes through cycles from design, development and release. Once the software is released, it is not a "finished product". It is still a work in progress and whilst you are using the software, ideally, its developers are improving it and release these improvements as updates.

Some of the improvements being made on the software after its release to the user are bug fixes to fix some errors that may be discovered after the release. Some bugs may even be known at the time of release but not considered critical such that the software is released in spite of them.

In other cases the improvements contain security patches that are designed to plug security vulnerabilities within the software. This is the primary reason why it is important to download and apply software updates to mitigate security risks.

Whilst some updates contain critical security patches, others are just improvements to give users better working software. These improvements can be in the program flow or in the user interface. Whatever the change, these updates will mean a better user experience with the software.

How Difficult Is It To Stay Up-To-Date

It should now be clear why it is important to keep the software on your devices up-to-date. But what does it mean in practical terms for you as a user of a given device. Does it mean you have to go online to find out what updates are needed for your device?

Fortunately, staying up-to-date is not that complicated. Most systems have a built-in mechanism for delivering updates even though this may vary significantly from system to system. The bottom line however, is that the process is usually automated.

Some devices will automatically install updates in the background where you do not have to do anything. My Android phone for example will update my apps without my intervention and I can also turn this feature off if I so choose.

My Linux laptop on the other hand will list all available updates for me and I can choose which ones to apply. This is an approach I like which contrasts with the Windows update, which I do not use,  that just install updates whenever and can be very disruptive.

If you are a developer working on an app however, you will find that most of your updates are manual as you will often have a lot of components that are interconnected to bring about a functional app. For general use however, it is simple enough and there is no reason why you should not stay up-to-date.

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