From time to time, you will see a message on your screen recommending that you update 'Java'. So, what is Java and is it safe? If you are not sure if you have it then you can check here: Test Java.
Java is a program used on many websites to enable games, chat and other features that you will want to use while surfing. So, the quick answer is yes, it is safe and I highly recommend that you update your version to the lates (most secure) version. However, if you don't need it then please uninstall or disable it. Here is my article on how to disable Java. I have to say that Java itself (as opposed to Java Update) is still not safe. I think it best to realise what JAVA stands for: Just Another Vulnerability Announcement!
So, what's the problem? Well, how do you know that the popup message that you get is genuine?!! The short answer is: you can't be sure because this could be a spoof message made to look like Java. Also, how do you pro-actively check your versioin? Java is no more susceptible than others to this kind of malware but there is a way to be safe: go to the Java Download site.
DON't just hit the "Free Java Download" but click underneath where it says "Do I have Java?". This will check what version you have and then you can see if you need to upgrade and let Java do the rest.
This way, you are sure to have the latest and therefore most secure version!
Also, during the install Untick the "Install Ask Toolbar" unless you need it.
Well, Java DOES update automatically but, by default, only once a month. It uses a very small program called 'jusched.exe' to SCHEDule the Updates to Java. Since the program is running anyway, you may as well have it check every day - this way you keep as safe as possible.
Internet & Web