I keep getting the message that a new version is available and asking if I want to upgrade. If I do this do I first have to save all my pics and stuff to put back on my computer as if I had just installed or is it like an update?
I have also been having trouble with Chromium telling me sites like amazon are 'not private', getting a privacy error and it won't let me connect...... any thoughts?

Which version of Ubuntu are you currently using? If it is particularly old, it might be worth upgrading - especially if it is one of the older, unsupported versions.

Before doing any kind of upgrade, it is always an idea to make sure that you have any important data backed up.

But no, when you upgrade from one version to another, your personal data and the rest of the file-systems SHOULD be left alone by the installer - only the software itself gets updated/upgraded. So upgrading to the latest version of the distro is not much different to doing an 'apt-get upgrade' or 'apt-get dist-upgrade'.
So after doing the upgrade to the latest version of the distro - all of your files SHOULD be intact.

But if you have got all of your important stuff backed up before you do an upgrade - then it doesn't matter too much IF something does go wrong during the upgrade, because you can always re-install the OS from scratch and then restore your files from your backup!

WRT upgrade notifications - Somewhere In the settings (I forget exactly where), you can have Ubuntu tell you any time there is a new release, or you can set it to only tell you whenever there is a new LTS release or you can set it to never tell you!

When I used to use various *buntu distros, I always used an LTS version and set it to notify me when a new LTS version was available.
Upgrading from one LTS version to the next always worked for me. But I always waited for a month or two before upgrading to the newest LTS release - that way the *buntu developers had time to fix any major bugs that were in the new version before I upgraded!

As for your chromium related problem - it could just be that the ssl certificates you have installed are out of date.
I had similar problems a while ago - I couldn't connect securely to any google sites along with Amazon and a few others.
Firefox just point blank refused to connect to them.
I could be wrong, but I think the fix was to close Firefox, open a terminal and use the command:
sudo update-ca-certificates

The next time I fired up Firefox, lo and behold - I could securely connect to google et al again!

[EDIT 2]
If update-ca-certificates does not do the trick, you might want to try running:
sudo dpkg-reconfigure ca-certificates
That will re-install the ca-certificates and update them.....
[/EDIT 2]
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Sometimes I've had trouble with the upgrade procedure unable to go on, but the old version was keep okay and I decided to go to a new clean installation of the newer. As doing backup of your stuff, do it constantly, better safe than sorry.
Whatever Distro you install, the /home directory should be a separate partition. On all my systems I create three partitions, "/" (root), "Swap" and "/home". I don't use VM so my system is dedicated to one Distro, and all my systems run Debian.

When I do reinstall Debian to upgrade, I can reformat root and swap, and leave the home partition as is. (After backing it up first, of course, just in case of a problem!!!)

As much of a pain it is, I recommend installing a new version from scratch, rather than just "upgrading" in place over the current version. The result will be a cleaner system. You will need to reinstall packages you have installed in the previous version.
Thanks for all the help. I did upgrade and this also fixed the issue with not being able to access sites online. You guys are great!
Nice! Have fun with your newer system, I love new major versions always...

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