What is Microsoft Windows Patch Management?

Microsoft Windows Patch Management West Michigan IT Services

What is Microsoft Windows Patch Management?

Software updates, or patches, have become an essential — albeit annoying — part of our lives with the rise of smartphones and smart devices like TVs, doorbells and washing machines.

In our personal lives, it’s a minor inconvenience. But making sure 50 company computers running Microsoft Windows are up to date, secure and working properly is not only quite the undertaking but also imperative to keep your business protected and running smoothly.

Windows patch management is the process a managed service provider will go through to test, distribute and apply updates to Windows computers. These updates generally fix vulnerabilities or bugs in the operating system. There are several reasons why a patch is released — maybe there was an error in the operating system’s code or a security vulnerability.

Some examples of patches Microsoft releases are:

  • Critical updates
  • Security updates
  • Microsoft quality updates
  • Feature packs
  • Driver updates

While it’s important to keep your computers up to date, sometimes patches introduce more issues than fixes, and that’s why it’s advisable to have some delay before patches are applied.

The goal with patching is to apply these updates with as little disruption as possible.

Why is Windows Patch Management Important?

Patch management ensures everyone companywide is secure and uses the same system with the same features.

it’s easy enough for an individual to update their personal computer when an update becomes available, that doesn’t work in the corporate environment as business security is much more critical than personal security. In the business world, it’s important that everyone is patched as quickly as possible to ensure there are no security vulnerabilities. So, rather than hoping everyone updates their computers on their own, we update everyone’s computer at once.

If your home computer is down, it’s an inconvenience, whereas if your business’s computers are down, your business is down.

Security: Windows patches fix vulnerabilities that are susceptible to cyberattacks, properly securing your network infrastructure. Your company is only as strong as its weakest link and staying up to date on patches safeguards against potential threats.

Uptime: Depending on the size of the update, patching can take several hours. It’s our goal to patch after business hours so you don’t face slowdowns during the day while patching is taking place.

Feature updates: Not all patches fix bugs. Sometimes new features and functionality are introduced, helping your team work better and smarter.

Compatibility: Some of our clients’ business-critical software applications are custom written and expensive to update if the newest Windows patch introduces a problem that keeps that software from working properly. Choosing between operating securely versus operating at all becomes a business-risk decision that will require discussing with your company’s decision-makers and your IT department.

What are Hungerford Technologies’ Standards for Patching?

Hungerford Technologies patches all Windows computers every Wednesday evening starting at 10 p.m. Firmware and driver patches are part of this schedule. Servers are patched every Sunday morning starting at 3 a.m.

Workstations are patched on Wednesday because Microsoft releases patches on Tuesdays, giving us a responsible delay. Servers are patched over the weekend because it gives us more time to remediate issues before the workday begins Monday. For example, if a server patch happened during the week and caused the server to go down, the business is down. On the other hand, if a patch causes one computer to go down, only that one computer is affected as opposed to the entire organization.

Common applications also are part of the patching process, including browsers like Edge, Chrome and Firefox; PDF readers like Adobe Reader; and file-compressing software like 7-Zip.

However, any line of business programs, or company-specific programs like accounting software or a content management system, are not patched through Hungerford Technologies’ process. Customers must manage these patches themselves.

How Do I Prepare for Patching?

The great thing about patch management is you and your employees don’t have to do much to prepare for Windows updates. All we ask is every Wednesday night you ensure your computer stays on and is connected to the internet. If you want to go further and reduce the possibility of issues during the patching process, you can follow the steps below:

1. Make sure your computer is connected to the internet

2. Close all applications

3.  Sign out of your user account on Windows by right-clicking the Windows icon, hovering your cursor over “Shut down or sign out” and selecting “Sign out”

Windows Patch Management Grand Rapids IT Services

4. Leave your computer on

The final step is the most important. If your computer misses the patches, you will be notified that the patches are ready to be applied the next time your computer is on. You’ll have five opportunities to delay the patching, but after that, your computer will force a restart to apply the patches.

What Should I Expect When Patching?

Patching is not a perfect science, and your computer may encounter issues after patching. Security is an ever-changing landscape, and Microsoft is attempting to keep up. Meanwhile, we are attempting to apply the patches as quickly as possible while being a buffer between Microsoft and your company to make sure they won’t cause any new issues.

Managed patching allows us to apply updates we know are secure, safe and stable, and block patches that have been known to cause issues with other programs. If we discover an applied patch breaks other programs, we can retract the patch, returning to the previous version.

There will be problems. But as a managed service provider, we do our best to limit those problems, and no matter what, we are always here to help.

Protect Your Business with IT Services

Want to learn more about Windows patch management? Contact Hungerford Technologies to see how we can help keep your business running smoothly while increasing productivity, security and profitability.

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