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Securing WinXP Step 1
Securing WinXP Step 2

Windows XP Security

This tip is written about Windows XP, but it can be applied to all Microsoft operating systems, but the details may be slightly different.

Step 2 - Automate Microsoft Updates

In "Securing Windows XP - Step 1" we discussed visting the Microsoft Update web site and getting Windows XP fully updated. Now it is time to discuss letting Windows XP download and install the "High Priority" updates by itself.

Since vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered in Windows XP, Microsoft periodically releases patches, fixes and updates. While it is possible to visit the Microsoft Update web site once a month, once a week, or better yet, once a day, most users would rather spend their computer time doing more productive or enjoyable things.

This is why Microsoft developed the "Automatic Updates" feature. While this feature only handles "High Priority" updates, this is enough to provide an additional layer of security to protect your computer and data.

If you have an "always on" Internet connection (cable modem, DSL, etc.) You can actually schedule Automatic Updates to do its work when you are not using your computer. Scheduling it for 3:00am works for Castle McCall's computers as well as for most of our clients.

How To Enable Automatic Updates

To enable the Automatic Updates feature on you Windows XP computer after following the instructions in "Step 1" is quick and easy.

If your Windows Control Panel opens in "Category View" find the Security Center icon (at right) and click it to open it. Once the Security Center is open, look at the "Automatic Updates" section, if it is red this feature is disabled and you will not even be notified of new "High Priority" updates when they are available. If it is green "Automatic Updates" are enabled and your computer will automatically download and install updates at a predefined scheduled time. If the "Automatic Updates" section is yellow, your computer will notify you of updates and possibly download them, but you will have to tell it to install them. To modify these settings, click the "Automatic Updates" link in the "Manage Security Settings For:" section.

TIP: If your control panel opens in "Classic View" you can bypass going to the Security Center and just click the "Automatic Updates" icon (at left) that is displayed. This will take you directly to the settings for configuring "Automatic Updates" on your computer.

Like Microsoft, Castle McCall recommends that users use the "Automatic" option, as shown above, downloading and installing updates at a time that won't interfere with work (or play!).

Of course, we also realize that some more advanced users might want or need a little more control over the process, for those users we recommend the "Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them." option.

After you have changed your settings, click "OK" to save them, and you are done!

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