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Fixing post-patch problems: Auditing revision levels

After a patch or service pack installation, you could find that altered components are not working with your applications. You may need to audit your revision levels. Contributor Serdar Yegulalp discusses four ways to determine the revision levels of given components, including links to some handy tools.

Sometimes after adding a service pack or patch to a system, you're faced with the possibility that a component either wasn't upgraded correctly or was upgraded to the wrong revision. There are a number of ways to determine what the revision of a given component is, either on-disk or live in memory, but the effectiveness of the method you choose will depend on your exact needs. Here are your choices:

1.  In Explorer. The most obvious way to determine the revision of a component is just to right-click on it in Explorer and select Properties | Version. Or, you could switch to the Details view in Explorer and show the File Version and Product Version as columns. But, with this view, you can't easily export the results. Note that .DLLs will have a Version tab, but .EXE files will not, so this limits its usefulness a bit.

2.  Through Process Explorer. The endlessly useful Process Explorer utility from Sysinternals lists the revision levels of all loaded components. If you click on the name of a process and select View | Lower Panel View | Show DLLs, you can see all of the loaded DLLs in use by that process as well as their revision levels. This is only useful for running processes, but the program does support exporting the information shown to a delimited text file. Note that it may take several seconds for the program to poll all the used .DLLs for a given process.

3.  Through an external resource. This method is best if you want to find out what other revisions there might be for a process or component. For Microsoft components, Microsoft itself has a site called DLL Help. There you can look up any component from a Microsoft or Microsoft-supported product, see all of the tracked revisions for the component and learn more about each of them. However, DLL Help is only useful for Microsoft components, not third-party apps.

4.  Through a script. This option is the most effective way to report back on a whole slew of components at once. For instance, use a script if you want to audit all of the items in a directory that represent what a patch will put into place, and you want to see a quick side-by-side comparison of component revision information. One such script is available online at JSWare and, with a little work, it can be used to obtain the revision information for all files that match a wildcard or are in a directory.

Serdar Yegulalp
wrote for Windows Magazine from 1994 through 2001, covering a wide range of technology topics. He now plies his expertise in Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP as publisher of The Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter and writes technology columns for TechTarget.

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