Unless you have a dedicated IT administrator–or preferably a dedicated information security administrator–who performs the role of testing and analyzing new patches and updates prior to implementation, your patches and updates should be automated.
Large organizations have different needs, but home users, and most small and medium businesses should just have Windows 7 PCs set to automatically check for, download, and install any applicable patches and updates. That way, your Windows 7 system(s) will remain up to date without any manual intervention on your part.
Click Start — Control Panel — Windows Update, and select the link on the left side of the window that says Change Settings. The main setting you need to be worried about is the top one. Click the dropdown list and select “Install updates automatically (recommended)“.
You can define how often Windows 7 should look for new updates, and what time of day to try and schedule the download and installation of new patches for a time when the PC is not actively in use. I have mine set for 3am.
Review the rest of the options as well. You can direct Windows Update to apply Recommended updates automatically in addition to the Important and Critical updates, and you can also check the box to receive updates for other Microsoft products in addition to Windows itself.