The best thing you can do for your technology is keeping it updated. It doesn’t matter what we’re talking about. Your computers and smartphones receive or should be receiving frequent updates. The programs on these devices have updates. Even your website gets code updates. It can be overwhelming to keep up with it all, but it’s absolutely essential to keep your business running.
This is arguably the most crucial thing about updates. Cybersecurity is an arms race. The bad guys are constantly trying to find new ways to hack systems. In response, the good guys are always looking for ways to keep the bad guys out. Whenever the good guys find a way that bad guys can break-in, they issue updates that fix these vulnerabilities. If you don’t take advantage of these updates, it’s like going to a gunfight but refusing to wear a bulletproof vest that’s literally offered to you for free. Because the vast majority of the time, these updates are free.
There is a trap a lot of small businesses fall into. They think that because they are small, hackers won’t bother with them. This might have been true at one time, but it’s not anymore. As our technology has become more connected, it has become exceedingly easy to operate remote hacks with no human intervention. This has resulted in hackers throwing out wider and wider nets and, since computers do the hack, it takes no effort to attack small businesses. The lowest hanging fruit is now the most likely to be hacked. The best and easiest way to move higher up the tree is to keep your systems up to date.
Most technology is constantly improving itself. In the past, feature updates would usually cost money. A combination of factors has meant that companies now will include feature updates at no additional cost to you. This isn’t always very compelling. You worked hard to select the right technology for your business. Why do you need more features? Indeed, you won’t use every new feature released, but if it’s free, why would you deny yourself new tools to better run your business?
The older a technology gets, the harder it is to provide support. One of my frequent challenges is providing support for a program that came out in 1991. It’s almost impossible, and the only reason it’s possible is that there is a weird corner of the internet that archives everything they can (it’s called archive.org if you ever want to waste a few hours). You don’t want to fall into this pit. It might seem more manageable, and sometimes cheaper, to go with the version that you have. Eventually, you’ll have to upgrade. If you’ve waited too long, the newer technologies may not be fully compatible with what you are using. When this happens, you’ll be spending way more time and money trying to apply more band-aids than you would have taking incremental updates along the way.
It’s easy for me to sit here and tell you that you need to update. It’s not always so easy to apply those updates. You may have legacy equipment that relies on older technology. In this case, updating is usually impossible. Luckily, this is rare and getting even more infrequent.
More commonly, updates will come with more minor incompatibility issues. For instance, if you update your computer, you may also need to update your programs for everything to work correctly.
Updating can also take time. Technology companies have worked to minimize this downtime as much as possible, but it often requires a restart at the very least. Downtime can be minimized even further by performing your updates when you aren’t using it.