Simple Guidelines for Managing Software Upgrades

Take Charge for Trouble-Free  Software Upgrades 

It seems like every morning you are greeted with a notification that your applications were updated overnight, there is a new Operating System available for your Mac/PC,  or there is a new version of your favourite software. Software updates & upgrades happen so frequently these days that they actually get a bit annoying. Also, all too often you experience a number of issues after you do an upgrade that requires you to Google solutions or do a number of additional updates to fix the bugs that were introduced. 

So, what’s the best way to manage this onslaught of updates and upgrades to ensure you get the benefits of the enhancements without all the headaches? Just follow this strategy to increase your chances of success. 

Types of Software to Consider

The best place to begin to understand  how we manage the software on our devices is to realise that there are three basic types of software for us to consider:

    • Operating System – the most essential software that runs on your PC or device. It is responsible for managing the hardware and software on the device and allows a user to run other programs and applications
    • Programs/Software – A collection of instructions that performs a specific task when executed by a computer. Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are a prime examples of a program.
    • Applications – Whilst still technically a program, Application is now used to refer to programs that run on your devices such as smartphones, tablets and watches. 

Each one of these options can have a different impact on performance when you upgrade and should be considered individually. 

Difference Between and Update and an Upgrade. 

Another key concept that is also important to understand is the differences between an Update and an Upgrade.

    • Software Update – is usually a free download for a program, application or operating system that provides security enhancements, bug fixes for features that are not performing as they should be, or compatibility issues. A software update can also include software enhancements such as new features.
    • Software Upgrade – is often considered a completely new version of the software and includes significant enhancements to the current edition which usually incorporates a range of new features and capabilities. There is more often than not a fee for the upgrade which is commonly discounted for exisiting users. 

What Can Go Wrong?

When performing updates & upgrades there are three performance issues you are likely to encounter:

    • Software Bugs – Software developers perform as much testing as possible before releasing new versions of software, but there are so many variations of hardware and combinations of programs and applications, that is it impossible for them to test in every possible environment. As a consequence, software can have performance based ‘bugs’ that prevent the software from performing as designed. This is corrected in the form of additional Software Updates, but you may need to tolerate the bug and decreased performance until the new ‘patch’ is released.
    • Compatibility Issues – Another issue that commonly occurs when updating or upgrading software is hardware compatibility issues. The hardware in your PC or device, requires ‘drivers’ or additional bits of software, that allows the hardware to be managed by the operating system of your device. Often, after a major update to the Operating System, you may be required to also update some of the hardware drives in your system. A prime example of this is when your printer no longer functions correctly after installing an upgrade to your operating system. You will also be required to visit the web page of your printer manufacture and download and install the new driver that is compatible with the operating system.
    • Minimum Device Specifications – it is also essential that you confirm that your PC/Device has the minimum hardware capability to actually run the software.  Most manufactures will identify the Minimum Specs that are required to operate the software effectively. 

The Best Way Forward


The best strategy for managing your system and software upgrades is to take ownership of them and turn Automatic Upgrades off on your system and devices. You will be notified when any upgrades are available and this will allow you to ensure you can make an informed decision prior to installing the upgrade. 

Compatibility issues can usually be prevented with a bit of research. Make a list of the main hardware devices connected to your PC and visit the manufactures web page to make sure the current drivers are compatible with the Operating System upgrade you would like to perform. If the Drivers are not compatible, make sure a new driver is available before initiating the upgrade. If a new driver isn’t available then postpone the upgrade. 

The same goes for compatibility issues with Programs. Visit the web page fo the software developer to ensure that the software is compatible with the new operating system. There is nothing worse than doing an upgrade only to discover that you can longer use any of your essential software. 

It’s also a good idea to do a Google search for any reviews there may be with the new and improved operating system to discover any issues other users may be experiencing. It may be worth holding off a bit. 


In regards to Applications on your smartphones, tablets and watches, there usually isn’t too many issues in allowing automatic updates of these applications. They are designed specifically for your device and usually follow any upgrades to the operating system. 

When it comes to updating operating systems and programs on your PC and Mac, I would urge the same cautions as when performing upgrades. A little research can save numerous headaches. 

In addition to taking charge of manually upgrading your Operating System or Program, it’s usually a good idea to not be one of the first to upgrade. I know that all these new features and promises of enhanced performance are enticing, but it is better to allow others to pave the way of trouble fee upgrades first. There is no prize for being the first to lead the charge!

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Brian Bird
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