For most Internet users, your browser is your window to the Web. You use it to navigate to Web sites, and it displays those sites for you, allowing you to follow links and explore everything the web has to offer. There are many different browsers available, but four of them account for over 95 percent of all browsers in use today: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari [source: StatCounter].
The programmers who design browsers are constantly updating them, adding new features, improving their performance, changing their looks, and improving browser security. That last part is especially important. Malicious hackers and Web sites can exploit security flaws in browsers and infect your computer with harmful programs, trojans, and viruses. Regular updates to your browser fix security problems when they are detected, and make your computer safer from those types of attacks.
Getting an internet browser is easy. Internet Explorer comes pre-installed with Windows, and Safari comes with Apple operating systems. Firefox and Chrome can be downloaded and installed by visiting their respective Web sites (using another browser).
Once you've got your browser of choice, keeping it updated is even easier. Internet Explorer (IE) updates are included as part of Windows system updates, so as long as you keep Windows updated, so is IE. Just run Windows Update from your start menu to see if any updates are available. You'll see Internet Explorer updates listed under "Important Updates." If Windows is set to update automatically, then IE will be kept up to date as well.
Firefox notifies you when an update is available, and you can check for updates manually by hitting the "Check for Updates" button (find it by opening the Help menu and selecting "About Firefox"). Chrome actually updates itself whenever it's running, and you can also check manually for updates under the "About Chrome" menu.
When an update for Safari is available, you'll get an "App Updates Available" notification. This will take you to the app store, where you can update all the software with available updates, include Safari. You can also check for Safari updates by looking at the "Software Updates" list from the operating system's Apple menu.
With automatic updates and notifications, keeping your Internet browser up to date has never been easier, so you should always have the latest security fixes and features for your favorite browser.
I remember when you had to update your browser manually -- check your current version number, then check the browser site to see what was current, then download an .exe file. Heck, I remember when you never thought about browser updates at all. You just used whatever came on your computer when you bought it. We've got a much healthier browser ecosystem these days.
- Apple.com. "OS X: Updating OS X and Mac App Store apps." Accessed Sept. 21, 2012. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1338
- Google.com. "Update Google Chrome." Accessed Sept. 21, 2012. http://support.google.com/chrome/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=95414
- Microsoft.com. "Update Internet Explorer." Accessed Sept. 21, 2012. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Update-Internet-Explorer
- StatCounter. "StatCounter Global Stats: Top 5 Browsers on Aug 2012." Accessed Sept. 21, 2012. http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser-ww-monthly-201208-201208-bar