Zach Burlingame
Programming, Computers, and Other Notes on Technology

Keeping Applications Up-to-Date on Windows Systems

With so many applications installed on your machine and with many of us having multiple machines, keeping them up-to-date is a real PITA and chews up a lot of time. Microsoft has helped us out a lot with automatic updates to Windows, .NET, Office, Microsoft Security Essentials, SQL Server, and several other applications. Other applications like the JRE and Adobe Acrobat Reader have added automatic application updating as well, but there are still numerous applications on most machines (a quick look at one of my machines shows over 139 applications!) that require at least manual update installations, if not manual update checks as well.

Enter Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector (PSI). Free for personal use, this application detects and installs missing security patches for hundreds of different Windows applications. For many applications it can offer to install the updates automatically and when it can’t, it can link you directly to where you need to go to get the update. If there is an application that isn’t currently supported by PSI, it’s very easy to submit a request to Secunia to have it added by clicking the “Are you missing a program?” link on the “Scan Results” page.

PSI gives you a nice dashboard with some historical “Secunia Score” tracking.

Secunia Dashboard

Secunia PSI Dashboard

The meat of the application is the “Scan Results” page which shows you a list of applications you have installed that it can monitor, the current version you have installed, whether it’s up-to-date or not, and where the application is installed.

Secunia Scan Results

Secunia PSI Scan Results

Occasionally I have to go in and manually remove an old instance of an application (old JDK version, Google Chrome instances, etc.) to get the patch level to 100%, even though I’m only using the latest version. I’ve been running this on several of my machines for close to a year now, and overall I’ve found it to be a real time saver.

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