When Is the Best Time to Update my Operating System?

Your operating system (OS) is the software that supports the basic functions of your computer. This helps control any applications and controls within the system; it could be be considered to be the skeleton of your computer. As time passes, however, OS updates need to be implemented. This is due to changing programs and software as a result, not being as compatible over time.

When is the best time for an OS update?

This is a question answered very differently depending on the person. Keep in mind that OS updates are generally unavoidable, and at some point will need to be carried out due to advancements in software and technology. Below are some factors to consider when making that decision.
Need: Is this update really needed? Someone who simply browses the web won’t utilize as much of the OS as a code intensive web developer. Do you need to use Visual Studio, or are you wanting to use Final Cut Pro which only works on a Mac’s OS? Generally, when an OS is being updated it’s important to make sure your hardware is properly prepared to adjust to that update, otherwise it could just end up bricking your system. It would be wise to create a list of the programs you currently use , as well as what you may need further down the line.
Security: A rule of thumb in IT is that after five years an OS won’t receive further notifications to make security improvements. This can lead to holes in your OS if not checked on, and will leave your hardware vulnerable to hackers and viruses. Programs can also lose support and compatibility over time without any notification to the user, so keep that in mind when using them as well.
Cost: Cost comes into play in that, for example, updating to Windows 10 can cost you around 100$, where Windows 7 is free in certain areas. Generally, Mac updates are much cheaper or free and contain minimal changes, so bear this in mind if you are trying to decide between the two Operating Systems. Linux is open source and has historically always been free, but can have a steep learning curve associated with it.
Customization: Whenever anything is updated, certain applications can be broken and other custom interfaces could potentially be nullified. Functionality can be affected, so make sure you carry out the proper research into the version you want to use – this can save you the headache of potentially having to learn a completely new interface. An example of this would be Windows 8 as compared to Windows 7, with many users complaining about the very different interface. It’s usually safe to not upgrade immediately to the new OS update, but rather read user reviews first since initial launches have bugs and multiple patches that need to be implemented rapidly after the first couple months.
Time: How long will the OS update take for you? If the hardware is old, going to a newer version could take a significant amount of time to upgrade to due to your computer’s CPU and hard drive limitations. It’s always recommended to use a solid state drive instead of a hard disk drive due to faster read and write speeds used for the installation of the OS and necessary drivers. Doing the research for which version to use can also take some time, so time management can play a critical role here.
Data: Do you need your data from your old system? If so, how will it transfer to the new OS? This can range from software to simple documents. It’s wise to install an OS on a brand new hard drive instead of one already containing files in order to make it a clean and fast install. More complex applications should be tested if possible on an already existing installation of the OS to see if they would work on the upgrade.