What's New in Technology for January 2008

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Technology: Optimizing Software Applications

Of all the many high tech features that touch our lives, perhaps none is more important, or more taken for granted, than the software applications we use for work and for play. Keeping your software updated with the latest features to insure the best performance has become relatively simple as more developers include automatic update features with their software. However, this feature doesn’t mean that computer users can sit back and rely solely on automatic updates. The New Year is a good time to develop a simple system to make sure the performance and security of your computer is not compromised:

Here’s a check list of considerations:

    • Are automatic updates—wherein a program automatically searches for any updates whenever the computer is connected to the Internet—in place? Some updates wait for the user to OK installation, others download and install automatically with no user input. Undoubtedly a boon to PC users at a time when security breaches and other knotty problems are a fact of life, programs that update automatically can create problems of their own if applications remain unpatched until they are used—i.e. vulnerable to malware and other bugs that might be able to access the application. Until someone develops a single utility that can check updates and download as required, the responsibility for developing the means to verify that all your programs are regularly updated is on your shoulders.

    • Make sure you maintain a current list of all installed applications, and that you establish your own regular review process. Once a month, go through all applications on your computer. If the program is configured to check automatically for updates, allow it to do so. Note: some third party firewalls may try to prevent this access, and you’ll need to override this. Some application developers issue updates more frequently that once a month and it’s important your PC is updated on a timely basis.

    • If the application doesn’t have an automatic update feature, check for one in the program itself. Failing this, find the manufacturer’s website and search the Help or the Support Sections for updates. Some manufacturers require you to create an account complete with login ID and password.

  • Don’t forget to include driver updates in your monthly review. Device driver programs instruct other devices, including the operating system, how to communicate. Without current drivers you’ll encounter problems with graphics, video or soundcards. Perhaps the best way to keep your drivers updated is to check the appropriate manufacturers’ web sites during your monthly software review. If you find the idea of checking and installing driver updates each month on all your office equipment too daunting or time consuming, you have the option of purchasing a driver service which will scan your system for devices and indicate which need updates. These services are purchased on a contractual basis for a year or more. Costs vary – provides a service for an annual fee of about $30 that scans your system in a matter of seconds to identify and update drivers as needed.

Manufacturers and developers have done a great deal to keep the never-ending business of updating and optimizing software as painless as possible for their customers. Regular reviews on your part can make the process complete.


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