With more than 1 billion devices, Windows 10 is far and away the most popular desktop operating system on the planet. It's become increasingly capable in recent years, with a wide range of features aimed to cater to almost every possible use case. 

In order to keep things ticking over nicely, Microsoft releases a steady stream of software updates. In addition to monthly security updates, the company has settled into a regular biannual schedule for so-called 'feature' updates. This is the most likely place you'll find any big new features.

To keep your PC as secure as possible, and ensure you get the new features as soon as they're ready for your device, you'll want to enable automatic updates. This is a relatively easy process - we'll show you how.

Why you should update Windows

Windows 10's immense popularity means that bugs and other issues are almost inevitable. In addition to the large number of manufacturers that use the operating system, Microsoft now has to optimise the experience for a range of different form factors - you'll now find it on regular tablets and laptops, 2-in-1s, convertibles and desktop PCs. 

To keep things running smoothly, Microsoft releases updates on a regular basis.  This can include updating driver software so that displays, peripherals, and printers all work the way they were intended, or adding new features to existing software and the operating system itself. 

Finally, there's the issue of security. Malware and viruses are becoming increasingly capable and difficult to detect, so it's vital that Windows 10's security evolves alongside them. Of course, it's still important that you have effective antivirus software installed.

Recent updates to Windows 10 have been accused of causing bugs or other issues, but for most people regularly updating their PC will be beneficial. What’s more, there’s a good chance these updates are already being downloaded automatically. 

How to use Automatic Updates in Windows 10

With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft took the decision to make automatic updates the default setting. That means unless you have changed the setting manually, you’re probably already receiving the updates as soon as they come out. Checking to see if this is the case only takes a couple of minutes:

  1. Open the Settings menu, either via the Start Menu or taskbar
  2. Head to Update & Security > Windows Update
    Windows 10 automatic updates 1
  3. You should see a summary of the update status. Click 'Advanced options' at the bottom of the list
    Windows 10 automatic updates 2
  4. Under 'Pause updates', make sure no date is selected from the drop-drop, as is the case in the screenshot below
    Windows 10 automatic updates 3
  5. For a more effective update process, under 'Update notifications' turn on the toggle which says 'Show a notification when your PC requires a restart to finish updating'.
    Windows 10 automatic updates 4
    If you're desperate not to miss any updates, you can even set the device to restart as soon as possible once an update has been downloaded. Don't worry, you'll be able to stop this manually if you're in the middle of something

That’s it! Now Windows will periodically search for updates and then apply them as they arrive. To see which ones have been applied in the past just click the 'View update history' option.

If you’d prefer not to receive updates automatically, check out how to disable updates in Windows 10, while you may also be interested in how to stop Windows 10 updates. To learn more about the most recent feature update, here's everything you need to know about the October 2020 update.

You might also like our tip on displaying the Task Manager performance widget on your desktop.