Definition

patch (fix)

Contributor(s): Chris Bethea

A patch (sometimes called a "fix") is a quick-repair job for a piece of programming. During a software product's beta test distribution or try-out period and later after the product is formally released, problems (called bug) will almost invariably be found. A patch is the immediate solution that is provided to users; it can sometimes be downloaded from the software maker's Web site. The patch is not necessarily the best solution for the problem and the product developers often find a better solution to provide when they package the product for its next release.

A patch is usually developed and distributed as a replacement for or an insertion in compiled code (that is, in a binary file or object module). In larger operating systems, a special program is provided to manage and keep track of the installation of patches.

This was last updated in April 2005

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This Buying Decisions series offers an introduction to automated patch management in the enterprise and offers tips for buying the right automated patch management product for your enterprise.

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