How do I... Secure Microsoft Windows XP Professional?

The Automatic Updates configuration window.

If your Automatic Updates setting is Off, click the button marked Turn on Automatic Updates. Besides just enabling Automatic Updates, you can also configure how the feature works. At the bottom of the Security Center screen, click the Automatic Updates option under the heading "Manage security settings for." This will open up the screen shown.

From this window, you can make a number of changes in Automatic Updates' default behavior. The default (and recommended) option is Automatic. When you select the Automatic option, you can also decide how often you want to install updates. Your choices are Every Day, Every Sunday, Every Monday, etc. As for times, you can choose any hour of the day that is convenient, but the default selection is to install updates every day at 3 AM. For most people, this will work fine, if the machine is left on for the night.

You other automatic update options are:
  • Download the updates, but install them manually.
  • Don't download any updates, but notify the user when new updates are available for download.
  • Turn off Automatic Updates altogether. This is not recommended at all.
When you're done configuring Automatic Updates, click OK.By the way, if you fail to stay current on service packs for Windows XP, you're out of luck on updates. Microsoft is making new Windows updates available only to those that have installed Service Pack 2.

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