How Do I Update Computer Software?

Daphne Mallory

No matter what type of computer a person uses, there may come a time when he or she has to update computer software. Downloading a software patch or update is the most common method of keeping software programs current. Just because a piece of software is published and sold doesn’t mean the development process has ended. Software developers continue to work on programs, sometimes for years after their release, in hopes of improving the program's quality or other features. It’s often a simple process to update computer software so long as the user has an Internet connection.

Updates may be downloaded online or installed using a CD Rom.
Updates may be downloaded online or installed using a CD Rom.

There are several reasons why a consumer might have to update computer software. Modern programs are often sophisticated and contain hundreds of thousands of lines of computer code when they’re finally written. Sometimes there will be errors in the code that haven’t been noticed during the quality assurance phase of development. Once errors are discovered, a patch or update will be created to fix them, and the update will be offered for free to people who have purchased the software. Other reasons to update computer software often include new security measures and improved features for the users.

A patch, which allows computer software to be updated, may be downloaded online.
A patch, which allows computer software to be updated, may be downloaded online.

The computer owner will need to download a patch in order to update computer software. The patch will often be available directly on the software developer’s official website. Once the patch is downloaded, it will still need to be installed. The user can double click on the patch icon and follow the on-screen instructions to update the software. Some software programs have a feature that will automatically download updates, so the user doesn’t have to go to the developer’s website. Once the update is downloaded, the user still needs to install it, using the same procedure. The user can often configure software to update automatically. Some programs will ask the user during installation if they’d like updates to be downloaded when they’re available. In other cases, the user can set the software to download updates. The software help files often give instructions on how to do this.

Although it’s far less common, some companies will allow the consumer to update computer software without an Internet connection. The software purchaser has to call the company’s customer service line. The user will often be asked to provide proof that he actually purchased the software, which can include the UPC code from the software box or other identifying information. The company will then mail the consumer a disk with the software update on it.

Games are usually updated using patches.
Games are usually updated using patches.

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