When to update and when to upgrade

by | Jan/28/2009

“Mike, you said to stay current with updates, so should I be using Vista?”

In IT, we often use terminology that is confusing outside the IT world – and that may be the understatement of the year.  This may help you clarify:

Updates refer to your application of recommended patches that “fix” something that is broken in an operating system or application. This includes service packs and high priority critical updates.

Upgrades, on the other hand, refer to moving up to the next version of a program or operating system. An example would be from Windows XP to Vista.

With the successful prior backups and testing, I am a huge supporter of staying current with updates that are designated “high priority security patch” or “critical security patch.” Keep in mind that the patches must come from a trusted source your IT department verifies. Patching is best handled by your qualified IT professionals since they clearly understand the system backup and testing procedures as well. Additionally, they will deploy patches in a staged fashion as described elsewhere in this blog to further ensure the availability of your network systems.

Upgrades on the other hand are not always a good idea until the new version’s record of accomplishment is more established. In fact, many experienced people choose to wait weeks or even months before upgrading to a newer version. It is common to upgrade “every other release” depending on the application.

Therefore, in brief the recommended strategy is:

  • Updates – immediate and carefully
  • Upgrades – delayed