If you've not used your computer for a few weeks, expect popular software such as
Progress: There is no hard and fast rule about when an update is necessary, or even beneficial. There's no guarantee that you will like the latest
Old version: If you don't like the new version of a program that's perhaps had nothing more than a facelift, you can re-install an older version. Whether it's safe to do so will depend on what updates to the program addressed. Many are nothing more than cosmetic. If you can't find earlier versions from the application vendor's website, several third-party sites provide these. One of the best known is www.oldversion.com. Note: this website is legitimate and safe, but has some annoying ad banners for software that can be confused with the actual product you are trying to download - the correct download button to use is the smaller green one on the right, so click carefully.
Some programs will hardly ever have updates provided. That's not necessarily an issue. If a program does what it says on the tin and doesn't contain any major bugs or security issues, then there's no problem using it as long as you want to.
Simple updates: Updating each of your applications individually is time-consuming, especially if you're asked to restart your computer to continue, which many updates require. One free tool that makes the updating process simpler is Secunia's free Online Software Inspector, which runs directly from the web at www.tinyurl.com/secosi.
Click "Start Scanner" to scan your computer for outdated software. The Online Software Inspector will provide a report of missing updates, often with links to download the most recent versions.
The scanner runs automatically in most web browsers, but requires Java to make it work. Most computers already have this; if not, download it from www.java.com/getjava. Once installed, return to the Secunia site above and try again. If you still have problems, try downloading and installing its standalone, offline sibling.
This is called Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) from www.tinyurl.com/secscan. It does the same job as the online scanner, but if left installed has fairly regular alerts reminding you to update drivers and software; these can be annoying so you may wish to uninstall the PSI once you've used it. This you can do from Add/Remove Programs.
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