Operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS X are complex software products made up of thousands of individual program files. Although Microsoft and Apple have rigorous quality control procedures, it's a fact of life that, from time to time, defects, or "bugs," will be discovered. Fortunately, as these defects are discovered, both Microsoft and Apple provide fixes, normally called security patches, and make them freely available via automatic update mechanisms or via their support web sites. It's important to keep your computer up-to-date with these security patches; if you don't, it's much more likely that your computer could be infected with malicious software (viruses, worms, etc.) or accessed by a hacker.
Note: This page describes how to keep operating system software up-to-date. For information on keeping third party application software up-to-date, see How to Keep Applications Up-to-Date.
Enabling Automatic Updates
Microsoft and Apple both provide automatic update mechanisms that will download and install security patches automatically whenever they're released. To enable these mechanisms, follow the directions below for your specific operating system
- From the Start menu, select Control Panel. In the Control Panel window, select System and Security and then select Windows Update.
- In the panel on the left, select Change settings, and then in the drop-down menu under "Important Updates," choose Install updates automatically (recommended).
- Under "Recommended Updates," check the Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates check box.
- From the Start menu, select All Programs, and then select Windows Update.
- In the panel on the left, select Change settings, and then select Install updates automatically (recommended).
- Under "Recommended Updates," check the Include recommended updates when downloading, installing, or notifying me about updates check box.
- Under "Update Service," check the Use Microsoft Update check box.
- From the Start menu, right-click on My Computer and choose Properties from the menu.
- In the window that opens, click on the "Automatic Updates" tab and check the Automatic (recommended) check box.
- In the drop-down menu underneath, chose Every day and pick a time (make sure it's a time when your computer is normally turned on).
- Click OK.
Mac OS X
- From the Apple menu, select System Preferences and then select Software Update.
- Click the Check for updates check box and choose Daily from the drop-down menu.
- Check the Download important updates in the background check box.
The New School recommends that all computers, whether they are owned by the university or by individual faculty, staff, or students, be configured to automatically install operating system updates. The New School requires that the following computers be configured in this manner:
- All university computer systems (computer systems owned or operated by the university, or by a third party service provider on the university's behalf)
- Any non-university computer system (a computer system owned or operated by a faculty member, staff member, student, contractor, consultant, guest, or volunteer) that is used to process or store Restricted or Confidential university information.
The Office of Information Technology is responsible for ensuring that all university-owned computers are configured to receive operating system updates. The New School Information Resource Acceptable Use Policy prohibits any attempt to alter or disable this configuration.
Individual faculty, staff, and students are responsible for ensuring that their personally-owned computers are configured to receive operating system updates.