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Computer Care: Updates vs. upgrades: Know the difference
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Every program on our computers needs updating every now and then as does the operating system itself. But wait; is it an update or an upgrade?

Let’s see, if I upgrade to a newer version, it will be current, but is it free? Hmm, I’m not going to pay every time I get a new version of a program. Or will I?

You upgrade an operating system, but update an application. No, you can upgrade them both, but you can also update them both.

Well, who’s on first?

OK, now that I have thoroughly confused some of you, this is the way it works. There are both updates and upgrades for programs, utilities, games and even operating systems, Windows included. The difference being that usually updates are free while upgrades are not.

For example, if you have the free edition of Advanced System Care, version 3.60 and it advised you of an update, it will be free. You then go to the website and download version 3.61.

But they also want you to upgrade to their Pro version. It has more bells and whistles, perhaps a scheduler and is an all-around better program. That one will cost you.

Some companies charge when the update is to the next full integer, like from version 3.9 to 4.0.

If you paid for an application like your anti-virus program, then you will get free updates for that year, as they are on an annual basis. Those you should set to update automatically.

In most programs, you’ll have the option to set it to update automatically. To upgrade though, you’ll need to click on a link or a button.

Keep in mind, whenever you initiate a system restore with Windows, you will lose your updates previously installed and will need to redo them. Some installations in Windows Update are permanent. Be sure you need these as there is no going back.

Driver updates are always free from the device manufacturer and a good thing to look for occasionally.

The big one in question is Windows Update. There are many options when it comes to updating. Upgrading would be from XP to Vista or Vista to 7, and we all know that is not free.

If you click on the update link in Windows, whatever version you have, you will be given choices. You can set it to Automatic and let it download and install whatever and whenever it sees fit. It is in control.

There is also an option to only download the important updates, but they decide what is important. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like decisions being made for me.

You can also choose to have it download the updates, but not install them; that would be on you.

Alternatively, you can turn it off and look for the updates manually from their website. They will let you know when the updates are available. This way, you are in control. You get to look over the menu and order only what you want. You choose what to download and when to install it. This is the way I like to do it.

You can also turn off the update option completely, should you want to.

In XP, you can right-click on My Computer, choose Properties and then click on the Updates tab. All of your options will be there.
In Vista, click on the Start button and then go to Control Panel. Click on the Security heading and you can get your updates there. Look in the left panel to change your update settings.

In Windows 7, you click the start button and then go to the Control Panel, then to Windows Updates. Look in the left column to change the settings.

There are other ways to get there in all versions. That’s one of the nice things about Windows. There is always more than one way to get somewhere.

So more about updates; I used to let the system call the shots. I set it on automatic and soon discovered I was downloading and installing fonts I’d never use (Korean and Russian), security patches for Internet Explorer (I use Firefox and Chrome) and add-ons for the scientific calculator (I’m a wordsmith, not a mathematician). So now I avoid the ones I know I won’t need or use.

Plus the fact, I hate when I get a pop-up telling me Windows is installing something and then wants to reboot the computer. I feel like I’ve lost control of my system. Hey, I’m writing a column here. Hold off on the reboot, will you guys!

It’s like the User Access Control in Windows 7 and Vista where you are constantly being asked for permission to open a folder on your computer. I thought I was in charge; obviously not. You can turn that off too, by the way. But that’s another column.

Arthur Glazer is a freelance writer and computer technician in Gainesville. His column appears biweekly. Arthur welcomes your computer questions and ideas for future columns.