Network Administration: Operating System and Software Patches

One of the annoyances that every network manager faces is applying software patches to keep your operating system and other software up to date. A software patch is a minor update that fixes small glitches that crop up from time to time, such as minor security or performance issues.

These glitches aren’t significant enough to merit a new version of the software, but they’re important enough to require fixing. Most of the patches correct security flaws that computer hackers have uncovered in their relentless attempts to prove that they’re smarter than the security programmers at Microsoft.

Periodically, all the recently released patches are combined into a service pack. Although the most diligent network administrators apply all patches as they’re released, many administrators just wait for the service packs.

For all versions of Windows, you can use Windows Update to apply patches to keep your operating system and other Microsoft software up to date. You can find Windows Update in the Start menu. Or, you can fire up Internet Explorer and browse to microsoft update.

Windows Update automatically scans your computer’s software and creates a list of software patches and other components that you can download and install. You can also configure Windows Update to automatically notify you of updates so that you don’t have to remember to check for new patches.

For larger networks, you can set up a server that runs Microsoft’s Software Update Services (SUS) to automate software updates. SUS essentially lets you set up your own Windows Update site on your own network. Then, you have complete control over how software updates are delivered to the computers on your network. For more information, see windows server update.