Free Windows Update alternative is released

By Brian Livingston

In my last issue, I reported that Microsoft’s in-house Windows Update routine is now likely to download marketing gimmicks such as Windows Genuine Advantage to your PC. I advised all Windows users, other than novices, to turn off Automatic Updates.

Because promptly patching Windows is vitally important to your security, however, I recommended a trusted, third-party replacement: Shavlik Technologies’ HFNetChkPro, which supports a much wider variety of programs than does Windows Update. The only downside is that the HFNetChkPro software, while priced reasonably at $25 USD per PC, requires a license for a minimum of 5 PCs.

After that newsletter appeared, Shavlik released a stunning improvement on this frustrating situation. The company’s NetChk Protect — which offers antispyware scanning in addition to patch-management — is now completely free for 1 to 10 PCs for one year.

I wish the firm had made this free offer available before my last newsletter was published. But the new offer removes the last obstacle some readers had to replacing Windows Update with superior, independent, patch-management software.

NetChk Protect, when installed on a single PC, scans across a peer-to-peer network or a server domain to determine which machines need updates for Windows, Microsoft Office, Firefox, Adobe Reader, WinZip, RealPlayer, Macromedia Flash, and other programs. The application can then deploy (install) the updates you determine. There’s no need to preinstall an “agent” program to those other machines or visit them one-by-one to run the installs.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2006-07-13: