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When it comes to keeping a computer up and running, the old adage of “leave well enough alone” is bad advice. Software and hardware developers continually make changes and improvements in their products — to make their devices compatible with ever-changing standards, to close security holes and to keep up with the newest hardware. It isn’t practical for a computer user to check Web sites for dozens of hardware and software vendors to see if a new device driver or security patch has been issued lately. But it can be a fairly simple matter to go to a couple of sites to check for updates for a wide variety of software. Some of the sites even inspect the user’s computer and check current configurations against a database of updates. Here are a few of the most useful update sites: Microsoft Windows www.windowsupdate.com The handy updater found at this site will examine your system and recommend updates for security, the operating system and drivers. A recent test of the site revealed 15 possible updates for a two-week-old computer running Windows XP. Recommendations included six security updates, one driver update and eight changes to the operating system. Some of the latter proposed updates covered such optional changes as adding a conversion utility to handle Euro currency. The site allows users to select only those changes they desire. Microsoft Office office.microsoft.com This site is the MS Office companion site to the Windows updater. Like the Windows site, it also checks the user’s system and installs appropriate updates. Click on “Update Your Software.” Corel www.corel.com/support/downloads/ Corel makes available updates and fixes for WordPerfect and related programs, including CorelDRAW, Quattro Pro, Paradox and more. CatchUp catchup.cnet.com This update service automatically scans your PC for software applications, system files and drivers, and provides a list of available updates. CatchUp claims to support many freeware, shareware and commercial software applications and hardware drivers. The system provides a list of updates available for the system and prompts the user to download desired changes. It also scans the hard drive for “spyware” that has been installed surreptitiously. Versions.com www.versions.com Versions.com has relationships with software and hardware developers to make updates available at a single site. A new user is prompted to set up an account and specify which products should be monitored. Version.com sends e-mail notification when new versions of the monitored products are released. Users also can go to the site to search for updates manually. Operating systems included are Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix, BeOS, Palm and more.

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