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Keeping software patches up to date with UpdateEXPERT

Patch management can be a huge job. After all, security patches aren’t the only types of patches that you need to worry about. It’s just as important to apply other types of bug fixes and service packs. Furthermore, there are also patches for applications
Written by Brien M. Posey, Contributor

One of the most frustrating parts of network management is trying to keep up with all of the available patches that should be applied to the various servers and workstations on the network. Patch management can be a huge job. After all, security patches aren’t the only types of patches that you need to worry about. It’s just as important to apply other types of bug fixes and service packs. Furthermore, there are also patches for applications, not just for operating systems.

To make matters worse, not all patches are reliable. Anybody remember Windows NT Service Pack 6? Microsoft almost immediately replaced it with Service Pack 6A because it caused so many problems. A more recent example is Windows XP Service Pack 1. In certain environments, this service pack slowed Windows XP network access to a crawl and caused problems with writing data to network servers.

To help you with patch management, St. Bernard Software has recently released a product called UpdateEXPERT. UpdateEXPERT is a software patch management tool that can automatically apply patches to your workstations and servers. In fact, UpdateEXPERT manages patches for a wide variety of operating systems, applications, and server applications. These include Windows NT 4.0, 2000, XP, Internet Information Server, Terminal Server, Media Player, Windows Media Services, NetMeeting, Microsoft Office, Outlook, and more.

One-stop patch updating
UpdateEXPERT has a unique way of managing patches that seems to get around many common patch management problems. The most obvious problem with traditional patch management is that there are just too many patches to track. Rather than requiring you to visit Web sites for each software package, you can simply check the UpdateEXPERT database for any updates available. The research database is organized into a tree view. This means you can either search for a specific patch in the traditional manner, or you can browse through the tree to see what’s available for your specific products.

The best part is that when you're deploying a patch, unstable updates are no longer a factor. St. Bernard Software claims to thoroughly test any available patches for reliability prior to publishing the patch in its database. If you attempt to deploy a patch that UpdateEXPERT considers unsafe, the software will block the installation.

Built-in scripts
Another common patch management problem is that in larger organizations, deploying a patch can be time-consuming. Manually deploying a patch to thousands of workstations is simply not an option. In most cases, you can deploy a patch by writing a deployment script. However, it takes time to write and test these scripts—time that your programmers could better spend doing other things. UpdateEXPERT has deployment scripts built in. Each deployment script is written for a specific patch and is tested for reliability. You can use the UpdateEXPERT interface to deploy a patch with just a few mouse clicks.

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