Don’t let buggy patches goad you into disabling Automatic Updates. Instead, take charge with these steps.

This article appears in the September 06 issue of PC Advisor, which is available now in all good newsagents.

Set Windows Update to automatically download patches, but to install only when you say so. Open the Control Panel, choose System and then click the Automatic Updates tab. Select ’Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them’ and click ok. When you’re prompted to install patches, select Custom Install (Advanced) to see a short description of each patch, as well as its Microsoft KB (Knowledge Base) number.

Use that KB number to search for any reported problems at Microsoft’s Security Response Center Blog (blogs.technet.com/msrc/default.aspx) or the company’s Windows Update security newsgroup.

Set a restore point before installing patches so you can always revert to a working configuration. You can remove most patches via the Windows ’Add/remove programs’ utility, which lists the date and KB number for each installed patch as long as you check the Show Updates box up top. Remove critical patches only as a last resort.