Keeping Software Updated Simply
Many computer problems can be avoided or cured simply by keeping all of your software up to date. Updates include patches for security vulnerabilities as well as fixes for bugs, new features, and improvements of existing features. Check out these free programs that will do the job for you...
Update Your Software: How and Why
An old version of any program may seem “good enough” but it is constantly getting worse in terms of vulnerability to hackers and conflicts with more recent software. It is essential to keep one’s software up to date.
Unfortunately, that’s no easy task. Sure, Windows Update can be set to download and install Windows security updates and enhancements automatically; optionally, you can include other Microsoft products such as Office. But you probably have other vendors’ software on your PC that also needs updating. Some vendors provide auto-updater utilities like Windows Update, others do not. Either way, you have a problem.
If no auto-updater is provided you must remember to check for updates periodically. If an auto-updater is provided it may be loaded every time you start Windows, consuming system resources and providing another target for hackers; multiply that by a half-dozen or so auto-updaters and you have a big problem. The best auto-updaters, in my opinion, are coded into their applications and check for updates only when you start the application.
Ring Updater to Rule Them All?
It would be nice to have one auto-updater for all software on your machine. Then you could disable all of the vendor-specific updaters to conserve system resources, reduce boot time, minimize conflicts and security risks. We aren’t quite at the “universal updater” stage yet, but a number of programs are getting close.
Patch My PC silently updates over 100 programs ranging from Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Adobe Flash Player to more obscure stuff such as ImgBurn and SandBoxie. It also installs important Windows updates. Even better, it strips the foistware out of installation packages before installing updates; no toolbars or browser hijackings! It also helps you manage startup programs so you can disable those other auto-updaters or uninstall them completely.
Patch My PC is free and only 500 KB in size. The user interface is a bit cluttered, but just keep in mind that outdated software will show in Red, and software that's already up to date will show in Green. You can scroll through the list of suggested updates in the left column and uncheck any items that you do not want to update.
The Personal Software Inspector (PSI) is a free utility is a free tool from Flexera (formerly Secunia). It scans your hard drive for executable files; reads the meta-data in each file to determine the program’s version number; transmits that info to PSI; compares the versions on your computer to PSI's database of programs and their current versions; and reports back to PSI what needs updating. PSI automatically installs updates when it can; if user action is required it provides helpful instructions such as the URL where updates can be found.
Ninite is a Web service that bundles updates into a single, foistware-free installer package. Just check boxes next to the programs that you want kept up to date; and click “Get Installer;” and Ninite does the rest. It fetches the latest updates, bundles them in a Ninite installer package, and downloads the installer to your computer. When the Ninite installer is run, it installs all the updates in the background, stripping the foistware out of each. And my favorite part, it eliminates all the Next, Next, Next button clicking during the installation.
The web version of Ninite lets you pick one or more software packages to download and install. When you want to update your software, you can return to the Ninite website to update your apps to the latest versions. Or you can download the Ninite Updater ($10/year) which runs on your computer and automates the process of checking for and installing the updates.
Anti-malware and Internet security suites such as Avast and PCMatic may include optional scans for outdated software and automated updates. Some of them don't actually update your software, though. Instead they give you links to the software download websites and you have to take over from there. Personally, I’d rather depend upon one of the dedicated updaters whose success or failure in the market depends on making this single function as easy and automatic as possible.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 27 Jan 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Keeping Software Updated Simply (Posted: 27 Jan 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved