Here is the challenge, you know you are supposed to keep all your software up to date, you have come to realize that Microsoft Windows will download updates in the background and even force you to install the important ones when you shut down the computer, but what about all of the other things you have installed on your computer?
There is an answer, but it is not perfect, Secunia Personal Security Inspector <http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/personal/> is software that you can install to check the current version status of many common programs to let you know whether there are known security flaws that have been patched with available updates. And, it will let you know what to download and how to update what needs updating. The biggest downside to PSI is that you can not just tell it to update everything it finds. Which, some would say is good, it lets them keep the tried and true versions of certain software. At least, you will now know what is out-of-date.
And, to keep Windows cleaner, for help in removing many of the temporary and/or unneeded files that build up over time as you use your web browser you can install CCleaner <http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner>.
The Mac equivalent for CCleaner might be considered Onyx <http://www.titanium.free.fr/download.php> and make sure you download the correct one for your version of OS X.
The Mac equivalent for Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector has not been produced, at least not unless you would like to help “test” AppFresh from Aurora <http://metaquark.de/blog/appfresh/>. I almost hesitate to mention it, but someone will want to know and there it is.
Bottom line is that software updates are there for a reason, not to just make your life harder, but in many cases to fix or patch a flaw that someone else has found. If you are working or playing on the Internet, using the Web and such, you can make things a bit safer by applying updates as they come in.
Oh, and if all of this makes your head spin, at least back up everything you would not want to loose if your computer crashes, Actually, you should focus on that first. Think of how much you would pay someone to bring back your pictures, for example, and then think of spending some of that money now so you won’t have to later.