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Updating Drivers and Software with Windows Update (Windows 7, Vista, XP)

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This document applies to HP and Compaq computers with Windows 7, Vista, XP and an Internet connection.

About Windows Update

Windows Update is a feature inside Windows you can use to get the latest software and driver updates from Microsoft. HP recommends that Windows Update be used on a regular basis. Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and other hardware and software manufacturers diligently pursue fixes and enhancements for their products. Many, including Hewlett-Packard, use the Windows Update tool to distribute their updates. While it is very important to use Windows Update to keep your computer up to date, Windows Update is not a total update solution. In addition to using Windows Update, you should also use HP Support Assistant or HP's support website to get the latest software and driver updates from HP.
Here are some examples of issues that Windows Update can solve:
  • Security vulnerabilities where the computer can be subjected to malicious attacks.
  • Music problems when recording in Windows Media Player.
  • Cannot establish a Remote Assistance connection.
  • Error SSDPSRV.EXE caused an invalid page fault in module MSVCRT.DLL at 0197...
Here are examples when you would not use Windows Update:
  • Drivers for Non-HP printer or devices that attach to the computer : Check the manufacturer's Web site.
  • HP printer drivers : Go to the HP Software Download page and enter the model name of your HP printer. For non-HP printers.
  • Updates to HP software : Go to the HP Software Download page and enter the model name of your computer.
  • BIOS updates : Go to the HP Software Download page and enter the model name of your computer.
To manage the update process, Windows Update provides options that give you control over how you are notified about updates, as well as the ability to review and approve updates before they are downloaded or installed. At any time, you can also proactively check for, and install any available updates using the Windows Update control panel. You can scan for updates, review details about each one, access your updating history, and manage your updating preferences.

Using Windows Update

Select the following section that is applicable for your computer's operating system to use Windows Update.
To immediately get updates for your computer, connect to the Internet and go to http://www.update.microsoft.com . You might need to select your language or country/region if you have never visited the site before. Make sure to follow the directions in the Web pages to download and install updates.
NOTE:In Windows Vista or later versions, Windows Update is integrated into the operating system and a Windows Update window automatically opens when the web page is visited.
Perform the following steps to find and install updated software and hardware drivers for your computer with Windows 7:
Show me how
  1. If you are not already connected to the Internet, connect now.
  2. Click Start , type Windows Update in the Search field, and then select Windows Update from the list.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • To install only the updates that Microsoft has determined to be important, click the Install Updates button.
      All important updates are installed automatically. Optional updates are not installed.
      Figure 1: Windows Update in Windows 7
      Windows Update in Windows 7
    • To selectively install updates, including optional updates and updates to hardware drivers, click optional updates are available . A list of all available updates opens in a new window. Select or deselect the titles in the list, and then click OK :
      Figure 2: Optional updates
      Optional updates list in Windows Update
  4. After clicking OK , Windows 7 creates a restore point if needed, downloads the update(s) and then provides more information. You might need to restart your computer after an update is installed.
Setting Windows Update to automatically update on a regular basis is a good idea, especially if the computer has a fast Internet connection that is always on. Perform the following steps to adjust the automatic download process used by Windows Update:
Show me how
  1. If you are not already connected to the Internet, connect now.
  2. Click Start , type Windows Update in the Search field, and then select Windows Update from the list.
  3. Click Change settings from the left side of the page.
  4. Select Install updates automatically (recommended) and then select a time when the computer will be on but will not be used to browse the Internet.
    Figure 3: Windows Update settings in Windows 7
    Windows Update settings in Windows 7
  5. Click OK .
    The computer is now set to automatically check and accept any critical updates that become available when you are online.
Perform the following steps to find and install updated software and hardware drivers for your computer with Windows Vista:
Show me how
  1. If you are not already connected to the Internet, connect now.
  2. Click Start and in the Search programs and files field, type Windows update . Then click Windows Update from the results list.
    Windows Update opens.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • To install only the updates that Microsoft has determined to be important, click the Install Updates button.
      All important updates are installed automatically. Optional updates are not installed.
      Figure 4: Windows Update in Windows Vista
      Windows Update in Windows Vista
    • To selectively install updates, including optional updates and updates to hardware drivers, click View available updates (under the Install updates button). A list of all available updates opens in a new window. Select or deselect the titles in the list, and then click Install .
      Figure 5: Optional updates
      A list of optional updates with a Realtek sound driver update selected for installation
  4. After clicking Install, Windows Vista creates a restore point if needed, downloads the update(s) and then provides more information. You might need to restart your computer after an update is installed.
Setting Windows Update to automatically update on a regular basis is a good idea, especially if your computer has a fast Internet connection that is always on. Perform the following steps to adjust the automatic download process used by Windows Update:
Show me how
  1. If you are not already connected to the Internet, connect now.
  2. Click Start and in the Search programs and files field, type Windows update . Then click Windows Update from the results list.
    Windows Update opens.
  3. Click Change settings from the left side of the page.
  4. Select Install updates automatically (recommended) and then select a time when the computer will be on but will not be used to browse the Internet.
    Figure 6: Windows Update settings
  5. Click OK .
    Your computer is now set to automatically check and accept any critical updates that become available when you are online.
Perform the following steps to find and install updated software and hardware drivers for your computer with Windows XP:
Show me how
  1. Connect to the Internet and go to http://www.update.microsoft.com . The Welcome to Microsoft Updates window opens.
  2. Click the Express button. A list of recommended updates displays.
  3. Click the Install Updates button.
NOTE:Microsoft is no longer supporting automatic updates for Windows XP. You may receive little or no updates by enabling this feature.
Setting Windows Update to automatically update on a regular basis is a good idea, especially if your computer has a fast Internet connection that is always on. Perform the following steps to find and install updated software and hardware drivers for your computer with Windows XP:
Show me how
  1. If you are not already connected to the Internet, connect now.
  2. Click Start , right-click My Computer , and then select Properties .
  3. Click the Automatic Updates tab, and select Keep my computer up to date .
  4. Select one of the three settings that best fits your needs and then click OK .
    NOTE:For computers with dial-up Internet access, it is probably best to select Automatic and then select a time when the computer will be on but will not be used to browse the Internet.
    Figure 7: System Properties: Automatic Updates tab
    Your computer is now set to automatically check and accept any critical updates that become available when you are online.

What to do when a Windows Update fails

For help troubleshooting problems with Windows update, visit one of the following Microsoft Web sites: