Patch management guide for Windows desktops

Routinely patching your Windows desktops is a necessary evil -- but patch management can be overwhelming. Get a grasp on the process with this learning guide.

Routinely patching your Windows desktop is a necessary evil and a crucial part of overall network security. But both novice and expert administrators often find patch management overwhelming.

This guide features tips, articles and expert advice on patch management for your Windows desktop, including steps to structure your patch management process, the most recent Microsoft patches and how to patch third-party software.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Getting started with patch management | Improving your patch management process | Patch management troubleshooting | Patching third-party software on Windows

 

 
GETTING STARTED WITH PATCH MANAGEMENT


Structuring patch management
Does your patch management process feel chaotic? With new patches popping up constantly, it's no surprise. Get some structure by breaking the process up into these seven steps.

Patch management for Windows
Find information on the basics of patch management, including Windows patch management policy, patch maintenance and post-patch security.

✓Checklist Developing a patch methodology
Here are some questions to consider when developing a patch management policy for your network.

 
IMPROVING YOUR PATCH MANAGEMENT PROCESS

Underlying causes of inconsistent patch management
If you think your business is secure, think again. Many environments, including those with patch management systems, are missing critical patches. Learn how to better secure your organization.

Checklist Measuring patch management metrics
Keep track of your patch management success -- or failure -- by focusing on these core metrics.

Enhancing patch management with NAP
Patch management is a necessary evil for Windows systems, but Network Access Protection helps simplify the process.

The pros and cons of third-party management tools
Here are ten things to consider when looking at third-party products to help with your patch deployment.

PatchLink Update 6.4
PatchLink Update 6.4 automatically updates networks with patches while checking the patching status of all machines on the network.

What's up with Microsoft's WSUS?
Microsoft managers provide insights into the latest updates and plans for the free Windows Server Update Services patch management tool.

 
TROUBLESHOOTING PATCH MANAGEMENT

Fixing post-patch problems: Auditing revision levels
After a patch or service pack is installed, you may need to audit your revision levels in case of incompatibility issues. Here are four ways to determine component revision levels.

Preventing post-patch problems
See what to do after you apply the latest patches to ensure your system continues to run smoothly.

✓ Checklist What to do after a security breach
Following this security breach patch checklist may mean the difference between preventing future attacks and leaving your system exposed to new threats.

Have my Windows patches actually been installed?
Learn to how tell if Windows patches have been installed on your machine with this expert opinion.

 
PATCHING THIRD-PARTY SOFTWARE ON WINDOWS

Desktop patch management software features: A checklist
Desktop patch management is a critical function, but the amount of patch management software can be overwhelming. Focus on the most important patch management software features.

Patching third-party browsers adds more work in Windows shops
Firefox is popular with end users but for enterprise Windows shops, Microsoft's Internet Explorer is easier to patch.

Importance of managing unpatched third-party software
See the consequences of not keeping your non-Microsoft third-party applications up to date and patched.

Patching non-Microsoft products
In addition to keeping your Windows applications, don't forget to patch those non-Microsoft products.

Should you use third-party patching tools to keep Windows 7 secure?
Don't assume that Microsoft's security updates will keep your Windows 7 desktops safe. Third-party patching products may be a better option.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Getting started with patch management | Improving your patch management process | Patch management troubleshooting | Patching third-party software on Windows

 

This was first published in March 2011

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