Software that updates your other software

Fred Langa

The release of Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) 3.0 prompts a test drive of the new version, plus six alternative general-purpose auto-update tools.

One surprise: Some of these automatic-update programs can worsen your PC’s condition.

The promise and perils of effortless updating

The theory is great: general-purpose automatic software updaters work to keep your entire PC up to date with minimal hassle.

Typical auto-updaters scan your system to learn the version numbers of the software you’ve installed. Then they compare those version numbers against their databases of current version numbers. If a given piece of installed software isn’t current, the updater software either notifies you that a newer version is available or (if you authorize it) automatically downloads and installs the new version for you.

But there can be problems.

For one thing, a higher version number shouldn’t be an automatic green light for updating because newer versions aren’t always better than the old. Sometimes a patch or an update creates new problems that are worse than whatever issue the update was designed to correct.

This is especially true with experimental or unfinished alpha and beta software releases and with drivers (software that Windows uses to control a system’s hardware).

Why newer versions aren’t always better



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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.