Tech Tips: Don't Forget the Optional Updates

Doug Hayman, DO-IT Staff

Most people know about running Windows Update, which protects their machines by installing recent updates to the Windows operating system and hardware to fix security vulnerabilities. People may have their machines set to automatically download and install critical updates as a background process.

Photo of DO-IT staffer Doug works with Phase I Scholars Ellen and Hannah with something on their laptops during Summer Study 2013
Doug helps DO-IT Scholars protect their laptops from harmful viruses and install the latest software choices.

What many people don't know is that when manually running Windows Update, there is a subsection of the process that reveals non-critical "optional updates." These include updates to devices like the video card, sound card, and Ethernet card.

If you go into Control Panel, run Windows Update, and pick the "check for updates" option, your computer will connect to Microsoft to reveal updates that are available, placing the critical or important ones front and center. After installing those and restarting the machine, run Windows Update again and look for the "optional updates" link.

There you'll see a list of items that although not deemed critical, can be of benefit to the user if it improves the performance of your hardware devices.

Click the checkbox next to available updates and run the installer for those. You may find that the screen may flicker when installing new video card drivers. In the case of wireless or Ethernet adapter updates, the system may lose connectivity briefly before re-connecting.

Check to see what new drivers may be available for your system.