One of the most common questions faced by many small business owners is whether they should upgrade software regularly. The answer isn’t as simple as it used to be or you may think, when it comes to certain types of software you should upgrade as soon as possible, and other software can wait. Knowing which can wait and which can’t is extremely important.

Websites and Online Software

Many cloud-based software solutions offer free upgrades, and when it comes to these you should upgrade as soon as possible. For instance, WordPress lets you know inside the Dashboard when an upgrade is available and in some cases automatically updates it for you if you set it up that way. Upgrading your WordPress or website server software is essential, as it will help prevent hackers from invading and harming your website. This also applies to plugins, etc., each of these should be upgraded as new releases often address security issues. One word of warning though, before upgrading anything and especially your website make sure you have a good quality backup, as sometime upgrading software can force errors in old code.

Free Upgrade versus Paid Upgrade

When there is a fee for upgrading, such as with certain self-hosted software (like Amember.com for instance), you can typically wait to upgrade for a little while. But, when an upgrade is available you should start setting aside money to purchase the newest upgrade as soon as you can, because eventually there may be issues with the older version not working as good as it could.

So, anytime there is a free upgrade, do it as soon as you can, and anytime there is a paid upgrade start putting aside the money so that you can upgrade eventually.

Office Productivity Software

Software like Microsoft Office updates a lot more regularly than it used to. Thankfully, you aren’t required to upgrade Office as quickly as you should software that you use solely online. There aren’t the security risks associated with using an old version of Word, for instance, as there could be for an older version of a self-hosted shopping cart.

Financial Software

If you are not using cloud-based software for your accounting, you probably should upgrade it when new versions come out, especially if there have been major changes in the law.

A good example of something that’s happened in the last few years is the issue with independent contractors and 1099 forms. It used to be that anyone you paid $600 or more in a tax year, you would need to send them a 1099 form. But, that changed, and now you exclude those you paid with credit card or other third party system. If you don’t have updated software, it may prompt you to do things the wrong way.

New Operating Systems

Often when you get a new operating system, older versions of your software won’t work. Sometimes even newer versions won’t work. Therefore, anytime you are contemplating upgrading to a new or different operating system, check out all the software you have installed on your computer to ensure it will work with the newer version or that there are upgrades you can purchase to ensure it does keep working.

Computer-Generated Upgrades

Most computers come from the factory and once put together immediately require you to upgrade the native software and operating system as soon as you sign on line. Most computers are also set up to attempt upgrading when you shut your computer down. Many people erroneously stop this from taking place. But, you must keep your computer upgraded at all times to avoid serious issues. Always allow your computer to perform any automated updates. If your computer is not set up to do that automatically, you should check for updates at least weekly.

Virus and Malware Software

Like your operating system, your virus and malware software likely attempts to update itself daily. If it doesn’t, you must manually update it every day to avoid having the software miss picking up on a virus or other malware that can quickly invade your system and wreak havoc on your life.

Compatibility Issues

Most issues with compatibility have to do with outdated software. If you buy a new program of any sort, it’s likely that there are going to be immediate upgrades to even that software that you must perform online. For instance, tax software. If you buy it at the store and bring it home to install it on your computer, the first thing you’ll need to do is upgrade it. Some of the reason will be to do with bugs found, or issues they’re fixing, but some of it will be due to changed regulations and laws.

Keeping your computer updated is an important component of owning a computer. It’s just like maintaining your car or any other item that you own. If you take care of it, keep it updated and clean, it will work for you much longer. Even though some upgrades aren’t free, having the most updated software will keep your business ahead of the pack and avoid any issues with continuity of care for your customers. Having an upgrade plan and schedule will help you to avoid any issues now or in the future.

 Should Businesses Upgrade Software Regularly
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