The Windows Update Service is an integral component of any Windows Operating System as it ensures your system and any other installed programs are always up to date. This is due to the fact that the Windows Update Service constantly sends requests to Microsoft’s Servers about the latest updates for your system, installed programs or hardware device drivers. If any updates are available, it then downloads and installs them to keep the system running efficiently.
The Windows Update Service runs in the background and can be easily configured to suit your needs, as it allows users to set automatic updates, choose specific updates to install or select not to do any updates at all. However, Microsoft recommends selecting the automatic option for Windows Updates, as it ensures instant detection of available updates once your computer is connected to the Internet. If you are among those users who prefer installing the updates manually rather than automatically, then you should constantly check the Windows Update option at least one to two times a week, since Microsoft is constantly releasing important updates which may be crucial for your system or installed programs. The Windows Update service also updates Microsoft Security Essentials, a free anti virus software, by downloading new definitions for viruses, malware and any other malicious software.
The software updates that are provided by the Windows Update Service are divided into three categories including; important updates, recommended updates and optional updates. Some examples of important updates include security patches and bug fixes for your system software or other installed programs. New features for the system or any other installed software are considered as recommended updates and updates for hardware device drivers, or trials for new software are seen as optional updates. You can find the Windows Update Service in your control panel (Control Panel > All Programs > Windows Update) or by typing Windows Update in the Search Bar located in your Start Menu.
Additionally, The Windows Update Service keeps a history of what updates were installed for user reference. It also utilises the system tray to ensure users are notified if the computer must be restarted. As a result of this users are able to postpone the restart if required. Furthermore, if the Windows Update Service is not working efficiently and as required, you can use its built in Windows Update Troubleshooter tool to find and repair any issues. If you are an advanced user, you can diagnose the problem yourself or visit Windows Answers for further assistance.
Sources: Install Windows Update in Windows 7, Understanding Windows automatic Updating