Patch management can be a very stressful project to handle and there are ways to minimize that stress. Microsoft has helped reduce the "unknowns" by streamlining their patch release process. For example, the company now releases critical security patches once a month. Sometimes if situations warrant interim releases then additional security patches might become available outside of the monthly release time frames, but that's relatively rare.

Security isn't the only reason critical patches might be released. Non-security-related bugs in software can often become critical when they affect your ability to run the business smoothly. So keeping up with patches is important regardless of the nature of the patch.

There are many good third-party tools available that help with that patch management process. Several of them are well-rounded in that they support a wide variety of operating systems and software packages. As you know, Microsoft has its own technologies for patch management and the company has taken considerable steps towards improvements.

The company recently made live its new Microsoft Update, which is the successor to Windows Update. Microsoft Update is well suited for home users and smaller businesses that don't need a full blow in-house patch management package. For larger enterprises the company released Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) which has been in development for some time now. The tool works well in an enterprise environment to help you make the most of your time spent on patch management.

Shavlik Technologies, makers of the popular HFNetChk Pro patch management tool, sponsors several mailing lists, a couple of which cater directly to administrators that want to discuss patch management issues. One mailing list, Patch Management, is open in scope where admins can discuss any related topic regardless of operating system or application. A
new mailing centered around WSUS was just launched and if you're interested in WSUS then you might want to join the discussions.

If you're looking for information about WSUS a good place to start might be right here at Windows IT Pro Magazine.
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