Updates and Security in Windows 10

Keep your PC safe and up to date.

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Updates and Security

The Windows 10 Update & security section.
The Windows 10 Update & security section.

One of the first things you'll want to do after upgrading to Windows 10 (or getting a new PC with it installed) is check your security settings, and make sure everything is set up for updates, as well as backing up your data and being able to recover, if something goes wrong. Protection should be one of your top priorities.

I recently wrote an article about the Action Center, which has  group of tiles that help you do various things with Windows 10. One of those tiles I pointed out was "All settings," which gives access to most important functions. Within it is a box called "Update & security," which is where you find out about, and change, things like anti-malware software, backup options and recovery settings. In the image here, it's outlined in green. Click or press it to open the main screen.

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Windows Update

Windows Update.
Windows Update.

The first menu item is Windows Update. This tells you if you have any updates pending, and when your computer will restart following an update. As you can see, I have a cumulative update the needs to be installed. (Sometimes those updates don't go as planned.)

One thing you can't see in the image is a button at the bottom of the window labeled "Advanced options." From there you can choose how updates are installed and check on what updates have been previously installed, among other items. I recommend just accepting the defaults for these.

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Windows Defender

Windows Defender.
Windows Defender.

The job of protecting your computer falls to Windows Defender. Defender is Microsoft's free antivirus, antimalware product (it also replaces Microsoft Security Essentials). By default, the first three options are enabled. The first one is the most important; you should keep it on unless you're running another antivirus security software. The next two send information to Microsoft about malware (i.e. viruses, trojans and other bad stuff), so that they can find out what new threats are out in the wilds of the Internet. I recommend keeping these enabled, too; in this instance, giving Microsoft that information will keep everyone more secure.

At the bottom of the screen (you can't see it in the screenshot) is the label "Use Windows Defender." Clicking it opens up Windows Defender, and allows you to choose options for running it.

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Backup

Backup Options.
Backup Options.

Next up are the backup and recovery options. This is where you'd go to make backups of your important files -- pictures, music, Word documents, etc. If you've plugged in a flash (also called USB) drive, you should find it listed here, and can back up your data to it.

If you created a backup in Windows 7, you can use it to restore files in Windows 10.  

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Recovery

Recovery Options.
Recovery Options.

If something goes wrong with your Windows 10 upgrade, this is where you'll come. The first option is to "Reset this PC." In this case, you essentially get a do-over. It reinstalls Windows again, putting you back to the state of Windows 10 when it was brand new. Important note: before doing any recovery steps, back up your important files.

The second option is to return to Windows 8.1. I wouldn't choose this option unless you really have no choice. Windows 8.1 is significantly inferior to Windows 10. But if nothing else works, it's better to have a computer running Windows 8 than not running at all. If you take this route, though, you've got to do it quickly, as it's only available for 30 days after installing Windows 10.

The third choice, "Advanced startup," is only recommended for power users who know exactly what they're doing. You could do some real damage here if you're not careful. 

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Activation

Windows 10 Activation.
Windows 10 Activation.

The last item we'll discuss is Activation (the final menu item is relevant only for developers). It tells you what version of Windows 10 you're running (Home, in this case). It also tells you if your copy of Windows is activated or not. If it isn't, you'll need to activate it, either online or by calling Microsoft, to keep using it.

You can also change your product key on this page. If, for instance, you upgrade to Pro from Home, you'll need to change your product key. In other words, it's unlikely you'll ever need to click on this item.

Don't Put It Off

It's OK to take your time learning Windows 10, but this is an area you should check out and familiarize yourself with early on. This is where you keep your PC safe, set backups, and recover your system if something goes drastically wrong. Put it high on your to-do list.