Microsoft today announced its release of HFNetChk, a new network-security tool that lets users check the status of hotfixes on systems across an enterprise. The new tool helps users ensure that they have installed the latest patches on all their systems.

According to Microsoft, a user can run HFNetChk from the command line to inspect local or remote systems. The tool uses a Microsoft-provided XML database to check whether hotfixes are installed for a variety of products, including Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0, Internet Information Services (IIS) 5.0, Internet Information Server (IIS) 4.0, SQL Server 2000, SQL Server 7.0, Microsoft Data Engine, and Internet Explorer (IE) 5.01 and later.

HFNetChk is easy to use, but it's powerful. HFNetChk downloads a copy of the required XML database each time a user executes the tool, which ensures that all the checks it performs are up-to-date. The tool can scan individual systems by NetBIOS name or IP address; it also can scan large numbers of systems based on domain names, Network Neighborhood, or ranges of IP addresses. Users can configure the tool to scan for installed fixes, missing fixes, necessary fixes, or both necessary and missing fixes. In addition, users can write HFNetChk's output to an ASCII text file (using word-wrap to format the output), or write the output in a tab-delimited file to import into a reporting package.

Shavlik Technologies developed HFNetChk for Microsoft. Users can download the new tool, which is just 204KB, from the Microsoft Web site. Microsoft article Q303215 will soon be available to explain how to use the tool.