This article is about updates for multiple devices, smart phones, PCs and Apple products. Most of the rules apply for all users and devices.

A question I get frequently is, “What are all these software updates and are they necessary?”

The answer for most tech questions is, “It depends.” Let me explain.

In basic terms, there are usually two types of “updates.”

The first is to bring new technology and features to the end user and the second is to “patch” problems that existed in prior versions that need to be fixed.

My generalized opinion relating to new software updates is that it usually has bugs that have not been discovered through testing prior.

For example, I was speaking to an existing client recently about his iPhone, but prior to saying our goodbyes he was excited to inform me that he was installing Mavericks (the latest operating system for Apple). I cringed. 

Whilst I am an Apple fan and was looking forward to upgrading my own equipment, I felt it was too soon for him to update. I spoke to him a week later and he was almost ready to throw his Macbook out onto Pacific Coast Highway. 

He had a couple of issues with his upgrade, his Macbook was slower than before and his email was not working correctly. There have been numerous reported issues with email, this is a programming issue that Apple are aware of and are working on. The speed issue is common problem when someone is using older hardware and it does not have the resources that the new fan-dangled operating system requires. I was able to tweak his Macbook to operate faster by disabling some features, but the email issues continue.

I usually wait for three or four patches to come out before doing a major upgrade. I upgraded my iPhone to IOS 7.0.4 (this is 4 patches after the major upgrade) and have been happy with it.

Now, regarding the second type of upgrade, this should be installed ASAP because they have found a problem and this will rectify it. When we are discussing Java or Adobe Reader or Adobe Flash, the holes that are being patched are usually security threats that a hacker can utilize to get into your system.

An upgrade may fix an issue but it also can create a problem. Several years ago when Apple upgraded to Lion they decided for the company to move forward they needed to forget some of the past. This meant that some end users would not be able to use some of their old software. Be sure to check what software you “need” before you upgrade and if it is compatible. If it is not, you will have to decide, 1. By new software 2. Find an alternative product 3. Don’t do the upgrade.

Jason Zammit owns both Mac and PC computers and has an iPhone. He has been fixing computers for over 20 years and has been serving Malibu since 2003. Reach him at Jason@calabasascomputers.com

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