Microsoft frequently releases security patches for its Windows software. Rather than doing the updates by hand, you can set Windows to automatically detect and install these vital updates.

General Instructions

See below for specific instructions for older operating systems.

  1. Open Windows Update with one of the following paths:
    • Start > Windows Update.
    • Start > Control Panel > Windows Update
    • Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Update

    Windows Update

    This screen will notify you of any available updates.

  2. To check if your computer is set to automatically update, click Change Settings.
  3. The resulting page will show you how your updates are configured. In the Important updates section, make sure that Install updates automatically (recommended) is selected.
  4. Click OK and close the window when you are done changing update settings.

  1. Click Start and then go to Control Panel -> System and Maintenance -> Windows Update.

  2. Review your settings in this Windows Update window. Make sure your computer is set to “automatically install new updates every day”. (If it is, you are already set for automatic updates: please skip to Step 6.)
  3. If you are not set for automatic daily updates, or if you want to check your settings more closely, then in the left pane, click Change settings.
  4. Choose Install updates automatically (recommended) and select an option to update Every day. Pick any time of day that you would like (the 3:00AM shown here is just an example).
  5. Under Recommended updates, select Include recommended updates when downloading, installing, or notifying me about updates, and then click OK.
  6. Now, click the Check for updates link on the left side of the screen to check for the very latest recommended updates.
  7. Windows will check for updates, and if it finds any, you will see an Install updates button; click that and follow the on-screen instructions to install the updates.
  8. Now you have installed all the recommended Windows updates and Windows will download and install updates for you automatically on a daily basis. If you ever want to check or change your update settings, simply repeat the steps above.

  1. Click Start and then go to Control Panel -> Security Center.
  2. In the Security Center, make sure Automatic Updates is set to ON. (If this is set, you may now skip to Step 6, if you wish.)
  3. To adjust your Automatic Update settings, scroll to the very bottom of the Security Center window, to the Manage Security Settings area, and choose “Manage security settings for… Automatic Updates.”
  4. Select Automatic (recommended) and set the download time to Every day and to a time of your choice (the 2:00AM shown below is just an example.)
  5. Click OK. You’re all set now to receive future recommended updates.
  6. Now go ahead and check for the very latest recommended updates. Choose “Check for the latest updates from Windows Update” on the left side of the screen. Follow the on-screen instructions to finish installing these updates.
  7. Your computer is now set to download recommended updates on a daily basis, and you have also downloaded the latest recommended updates. If you ever want to check or change your update settings, simply repeat the steps above.

The instructions below are adapted from Microsoft’s web page at

  1. Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Double click Automatic Updates.
  3. Click the Automatic Updates tab, and then select Keep my computer up to date.
  4. Select a setting. Microsoft recommends selecting Automatically download the updates, and install them on the schedule that I specify and setting a daily schedule.
  5. Click OK. You’re all set now to receive future critical updates.
  6. You should now go right away to the Windows Update website at and install any critical updates that your computer requires.
  7. Automatic Updates will take care of future critical updates, but you should still visit the Windows Update site on a regular basis so you can get high priority and optional updates for your computer.