Do I need Java updates on my computer?

Written by sue smith Google
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Do I need Java updates on my computer?
Java is used within a wide variety of both desktop and Web applications. (Courtesy of Oracle)

If you have Java installed on your computer, you will likely see messages prompting you to download and install updates from time to time. If you do use software applications that rely on Java, you may be exposing your computer to security risks by not installing updates. However, if you do not actually use Java you may prefer to uninstall it completely. Before taking a decision about whether to update or remove Java, it's advisable to be aware of the potential consequences.

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Applications

If you have Java installed on your computer, this may be because you are using or have used applications built in Java. You may have installed it when you installed such an application, when you visited a website with a Java Web application on it, or it may have been on your computer already. Many software applications use Java, so it's best to be aware that if you uninstall Java from your computer one or more of the programs you use may stop working. However, you can always reinstall a new version of Java in the future if you need to. Java is used to power lots of different types of application, including those for Web and desktop processing. Even if you have no applications on your computer that are powered by Java, without it you will be unable to access the facilities of certain websites.

Functionality

Java is a programming language and development platform, so Java applications carry out a range of processing functions. The Java platform is constantly being evolved, so the functionality available through it is continuously changing. To take advantage of the possibilities brought and developed with new versions of Java, you do need to keep it updated. If you don't update Java, you may be missing out on some of this functionality. As well as increasing capabilities, updates to Java can improve on other factors of applications such as speed, reliability and efficiency, so you may notice and improvement in how some of certain software or websites function after installing Java updates.

Security

Security is perhaps the most important reason to update Java on your computer. In many cases, Java updates are rolled out to address security issues. If you have Java on your computer and do not update it, this may leave you vulnerable to security risks such as malicious programs. Many people find the frequency with which they are prompted with Java updates annoying, but this happens because the platform is continually being adjusted to address emerging security problems. If you decide you do not want to update Java, rather than leaving it the way it is, it is best to remove it from your computer by uninstalling it.

Older versions

You can uninstall Java from your computer if you decide you no longer want it. You can also uninstall older versions of the platform if you are keeping the current version updated. In general, the most recent version of Java will be the safest and most feature-complete, so as long as you keep it updated you can continue to use Java-powered applications safely. Oracle, the company that owns Java, recommends uninstalling old versions of Java from your computer to minimise potential security risks.

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