Patching Your Computers
Last Updated: Fri, 22 Apr 2011 > Related Articles
Learn how and why to patch your computers.
Software is always being updated, so patching your computer on a regular basis has become standard practice for IT managers. New patches fix flaws, performance or security holes in software. It is important to check your software manufacturer's web site every week for new updates.
Note: Do not forget to check for firmware updates that apply to your hardware firewalls, routers, etc.
There are a couple of things to remember when patching your software or hardware:
- Setup a test lab.
Create a lab that is separate from your production network. This could be as few as 2 machines or as many as 10. Test the new patches on these computers. This method will avoid downtime for your production machines if there is a conflict with other software on the computer.
- Check your software vendor’s website for any conflicts that have been discovered during testing.
When a patch is released by an operating system maker, they usually have tested the new ‘fix’ with many software vendors in advance. Any conflicts that were discovered should be posted on their web site.
- All operating systems and software have flaws.
The myth is that only Windows has security flaws. This is untrue. All software has the potential to have security flaws and many patches have been released for the Apple OS, Red Hat OS, etc. If you run an operating system other than Windows, you should check at regular intervals for new patches or fixes.
- Create a central distribution for patches.
Using a centralized distribution center for new patches can make patching your network easier then physically updating each machine.
- Patch at night. You do not want to disrupt the daily work with downtime due to a new patch. Apply new ones at night when everyone has gone home unless waiting until after-hours possesses a huge risk to your network.
- Formulate a back out plan.
Make sure all critical files have been backed up before you proceed with new updates and have a plan to restore or ‘roll-back’ your computers to a working state just in case something goes wrong.