Never postpone an update. Here’s why.

We’ve all been guilty of postponing an update. The timing always seems to be very inconvenient, or we think we’ll remember to do it tomorrow. But all those patches and updates are important, and we cannot stress that enough. So consider this post a desperate plea to be an update-enthusiast and a patch-abider.

First step on the path to an update-enthusiast? Easy. When your phone, computer, tablet, smart gadget, or anything asks you to update your device, do it. Immediately. Henceforth. Not tomorrow. Not an hour from now. Not sometime in the future. We always forget, and don’t think you’re the rare one who doesn’t.

These patches are designed for YOU. They keep your devices safe and your data private; however, there’s an underlying issue with patches—we never do them. When you receive a pop-up on the bottom corner of your screen saying there’s a new update available, it will normally ask if you want to update now or if you want to be reminded about the update later. The majority of people gravitate towards the “remind me later” option—except when they are reminded later, they once again click on the “remind me later” button.  You can see how it turns into a vicious cycle that never ends.

The good news is, when you fail to update the first time, it’s probably not a do-or-die situation. The bad news is, if you fail to update multiple times, it might become that way. Updates can fix current or potential issues or add new features to an existing product. This can be to your entire operating system (whether it’s your laptop or your phone) or to your browser or productivity software. Whatever it is, you don’t want these products to be missing critical security updates. That’s exactly what hackers look for: vulnerabilities in systems.

The longer you postpone an update, the larger the security flaw becomes—creating a gap or hole for malicious activity to slip through. Right now, malware is a huge threat. WannaCry or Petya ring any bells? How about malvertising? All one has to do is visit an infected website to be affected by malicious online content, and in the past Forbes, Huffington Post, Reuters, and Yahoo have all been infected (all of which are very legitimate websites). Malvertising employs special coding to search your computer for security gaps. Once it finds a gap, it forces malicious content into it, subjecting your device to threats like Trojans, viruses, and spyware. If your computer, browser, software, and everything in-between is up-to-date, you won’t have an issue. But once again, our devices as a whole are generally outdated and missing patches, giving malvertising and other malware a grand buffet to feast on.

And you don’t always have to wait for the prompt to update because there’s always a chance your device isn’t set up in a way to automatically receive them. The simplest way to check for updates is to find your settings tab and go from there. It’s easy and totally worth it.

So put on that patch-abider hat and wear it proudly! You’ll have the last laugh when Too-Cool-For-Updates-Stacy gets a virus on her computer and crashes the whole network.