Patch Management Essentials

Windows Patch Management

Introduction

Did you know that 75% of all the PCs in the world have Windows installed? So, patching and keeping these Windows devices up to date becomes essential. And with Microsoft releasing patches regularly, it is crucial to have a Windows patch management process in place. 

A patch is a piece of code developers insert to make their software bug-free or to improve it. And patch management is the process of scanning, testing, and deploying patches. Read on to understand “what is windows patch management?”. And how you can perform it with a Windows patching software.

 

What is Windows Patch Management?

 

Windows patch management is the process of efficiently applying OS updates to a Windows machine. It includes downloading patches from the Microsoft Windows site and testing and deploying them.

Patch management, in general, is an essential step in the vulnerability management and remediation process. Especially in the case of Windows, patch management is critical in quickly and efficiently fixing security risks and ensuring your organization is safe and its devices are functioning appropriately.

 

Why Do We Need Windows Patch Management?

 

Now that we know the answer to “what is windows patch management?” we need to understand why we need it. Windows OS patches are typically applied by the Windows Update service. It operates on an individual device, but IT admins don’t have much control over it. And when the number of devices in an organization increase, IT admins cannot visit every PC and manually update it.

Adding to this issue is the bandwidth consumed by each of the devices. Since the update is the same for all devices, the same file is being downloaded many times, wasting bandwidth. 

Windows patches are notorious for their long download time. And this can be significantly decreased with a patch management tool

To solve these problems, we use Windows patch management software. These tools help you download, test, and distribute Windows patches. 

 

What is Patch Tuesday?

 
We talked about Microsoft releasing Windows patches, but an important thing to know is Patch Tuesday. Every 2nd Tuesday of the month, Microsoft releases patches to its software. And IT admins and organizations around the globe call this day Patch Tuesday.
 
 

How Does Windows Patch Management Work?

 

Patch management tools (like SanerNow) internally use WSUS to download patches. Windows Server Update Services, or WSUS in short, is Microsoft’s patch distribution platform that downloads patches directly from the Microsoft server. 

With a 3rd party patch management tool, you get more control and a hands-on approach to the distribution and deployment of patches. It bypasses the repeated downloads of the same update and distributes the update from a local central server.

With a windows patching tool, you can choose when to deploy patches and how quickly you want them to be applied.

It also allows for the testing of patches to ensure they won’t break the environment and hinders productivity. 

 

How To Patch Devices With Windows Patching Software?

Patch management tools usually need a bit of setup while starting out. But after the initial setup, the entire process becomes butter-smooth and easy.

1. Detecting missing patches: Patch management tools have in-built scanners that can detect missing patches. The missing patches can be security or non-security.

2. Downloading missing patches: After detecting the devices with missing patches, the next step is to download the respective patches. Here, one copy of the Patch is downloaded and stored locally. Third-party tools use WSUS to download these patches and store them in a central server connected to every device in the network. 

3. Testing patches in a test environment: Once the patches are downloaded, we must test them. This process ensures the network doesn’t go down after the deployment. Sometimes, critical vulnerabilities might be detected in a new patch. It’s better not to apply the latest patches until the fix is available.

4. Deploying patches in the network: After the patch testing, patch management tools centrally deploy patches to the devices. These tools can also provide a granular level of control over deployment, with pre and post-scripts, reboot control, and more.

5. Verifying the application of the Patch: After the patching is complete, the next obvious step is verification. Patches might fail due to unforeseen circumstances, and in that case, the process must be repeated. With a good patch management tool like SanerNow, the chance of a patch failing reduces significantly

 

Benefits of Windows Patch Management:

1. Security: 

Microsoft regularly releases security updates to its software, and it is paramount to apply them. These patches fix critical vulnerabilities that can severely affect the security and performance of devices.

2. Performance: 

Sometimes, patches also fix performance issues in the software, and it is always suggested to keep them up-to-date. Windows patching also ensures that the devices have a good lifespan without the software affecting them.
 

3. Productivity: 

 An obvious advantage of keeping apps up-to-date is the new features and Quality of Life improvements developers add to their software. With bug-free software, users’ productivity improves, and new features can simplify their work too.
 

4. Efficiency: 

 With Windows patching software, the efficiency of the IT teams increases exponentially. It makes their work easier, and they can focus on other higher-priority work.
 
 

Windows Patching Strategies:

Patching Windows machines is neither very difficult nor very easy. It is not trivial enough that it can be done with simple steps, and it’s not very difficult that it can’t be done at all. But with the proper planning, right tools, and good practices, we can keep our devices up to date and safe.
 
Here are some strategies that make windows patching easier.
 

1. Tracking of assets in the network: 

Having an accurate inventory of all assets can help track the patch status of the devices. This strategy ensures easy application of patches by having a clear overview of the entire network.
 

2. Regular scans of devices: 

Most organizations might scan for missing patches monthly or sometimes every six months. Irregular scanning is extremely dangerous as hackers might run rampant with vulnerabilities lurking in the devices. Regular scans allow missing patches and critical vulnerabilities to be discovered early and patched.
 

3. Adopting automation by scheduling patches: 

Automation is key in simplifying patch management. With an automated patch management tool, regularly applying windows patches should become easy.
 

5 Things to look for in a good Windows Patch Management Software

 
Good patch management tools are difficult to find. And especially for Windows, it is important to research and clearly understand the features and the range of devices and OSs they support. So here are five things to look for in a good Windows patching tool while selecting one.
 

1. Is the tool easy to use? 

A good patch management tool should be intuitive in presentation and easy to use. With a clean dashboard, the user should be able to access all the tool’s features and perform different actions efficiently.
 

2. What’s the range of support of OSs and devices? 

Can it support legacy software, old versions, servers, and desktops? A good patch management tool should support all of the above requirements, typically common in a network environment.
 

3. Can it perform automated tasks? 

Great patch management tools support scheduling and help you automate patch management. It should automatically download and deploy the latest patches and ensure the patches are applied correctly.
 

4. What are its deployment options? 

All-round patch management tools should support both cloud and on-premises deployment. It also means the patch management tools are very flexible as well.
 

5. Can it generate actionable reports??

Great patch management tools must automate not only patch management but also generate clean, user-friendly reports that are useful during audits and proper documentation of each process.
 

Windows Patching With Sanernow

SanerNow Patch Management is an end-to-end automated Windows patch management software. From scanning for missing patches to downloading and deploying them, SanerNow takes care of each step of patch management. 

SanerNow supports all major OSs like Windows, Linux, and macOS and patches a huge array of over 350+ unique third-party applications. And it works on both Windows servers and PCs.

 With SanerNow, every step of patch management boils down to a simple click of buttons:
 

1. SanerNow can automatically initiate scans for patches and check for security and non-security patches of OS and 3rd party apps. You can schedule and automate these scans every day or perform them as required.

Windows patching dashboard

2. SanerNow automatically downloads the latest patches, whether they are 3rd party or OS. The 3rd party patches are stored in its repository, while the OS updates are directly downloaded from the vendor sites.  After it detects the missing patches, you can either choose all the patches for deployment or select them too.

3. But SanerNow can automate deployment too. By scheduling patches, you can simplify patching into a regular routine.

Scheduling Windows Patches

4. Lastly, SanerNow can generate clear audit-ready reports and provide a clear overview of the patching process. It also shows the number of vulnerabilities patched, patch status, etc., which can provide insights.