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Patch Management: The Critical Role of Software Updates for Your Business

For many business leaders, technology is often an "out of sight, out of mind" aspect of their operations. As long as everything is running smoothly, IT infrastructure tends to be overlooked.

Yet, businesses rely heavily on technology, especially the software that drives their operations. Much like a car requires regular maintenance, software needs frequent updates to ensure it runs efficiently and securely.


In this article, we delve into the importance of proactive IT care in maintaining secure, available, and efficient business technology infrastructures. We'll specifically discuss the significance of having a robust patch management process to keep software updated and protect IT systems from vulnerabilities.


Our goal is to equip business leaders like you with the information needed to understand various technology options, enabling you to make informed IT decisions for your organization.

graphic with gears and buttons with different technology symbols. Bigger and bolder is the update dial.


What is Software Patching / Patch Management and What Does it Work Against?

When a vendor sends a patch for your operating system or software, they are addressing a specific, known security vulnerability or weakness. Think of a software patch as a fix for a leaky roof.


Software vendors and developers continuously strive to enhance their programs and applications by identifying performance issues and addressing security vulnerabilities.

Patching your systems protects you by filling holes or glitches that pose a security risk, preventing hackers from exploiting these weaknesses to steal data and damage your IT infrastructure.


Sometimes, it takes multiple patches to fix a vulnerability. Vendors may also send patches with updates focused on product enhancements, such as improving functionality, adding new features, fixing performance issues, and improving compatibility.


However, these patches and updates are only effective if you install them.


There are several types of software patches designed to address specific needs. In this article, we will cover the most common ones:


Security Patches

These are the most common and critical patches, aimed at addressing security vulnerabilities that could lead to a cyber incident in your business.


Bug Fixes

If you've ever experienced a program freezing or long loading times, you know how frustrating it can be and how it affects productivity. Bug fixes address these glitches, ensuring your software runs smoothly.


Compatibility Patches

As businesses increasingly rely on technology, it's essential that different software programs work together seamlessly. Compatibility patches ensure that various applications interact efficiently, helping you be more productive.


Feature Updates

Sometimes patches come with added bonuses! Feature updates introduce new functionality to your software, keeping it current and potentially enhancing your workflow.


What Needs Patched and Updated in my IT Infrastructure?

Patching isn't just for desktops and laptops. Your entire IT infrastructure, including servers, routers, and network devices, requires regular security updates. A comprehensive patch management strategy should encompass all your devices to minimize security risks and ensure your IT environment is fully optimized.


How Often Should Software Patches Be Done?

Ideally, software patches should be applied as soon as they are made available by the vendor. Many software programs offer automatic updates to help you stay on top of this process. However, for greater peace of mind and a more comprehensive patch management program, consider outsourcing your software patching to a managed IT services provider if you don’t have a dedicated internal IT resource.


What Happens if You Don't Patch Your Software Regularly?

Businesses that don’t regularly install patches and updates risk compromising the performance and security of their infrastructure. It’s a significant gamble! Neglecting updates can weaken your technology backbone, leading to potential breakdowns, costly repairs, and downtime.

Consider this analogy: If you buy a new vehicle and receive a recall notice for a defective electronics or security system, the dealership offers to fix it for free. Wouldn’t you drive to the dealership at your earliest convenience to have the issue resolved?


Similarly, patches and updates provide essential fixes for weaknesses in software, operating systems, and other IT products, enhancing performance and security just like a vehicle recall enhances safety and functionality.


What's the Bottom Line?

Software patching may not be glamorous, but it's essential for your peace of mind. After reading this article, you now have a thorough understanding of what software patching entails and the types of patches your business needs to stay secure and efficient.


Patch management goes beyond installing cybersecurity updates; it’s about maintaining your entire IT environment in optimal condition. A well-patched IT environment provides a secure, optimized platform with minimal compatibility issues and helps your business meet regulatory and industry compliance requirements. You also understand the serious consequences of neglecting patches and updates.


Some businesses rely on their internal IT staff to handle patches and updates, assigning one or more team members this responsibility. Others may turn to external IT support and managed service providers to ensure their infrastructure and devices are up-to-date.


Either approach can effectively meet your business needs. If you're considering external IT support, it's important to understand the differences between break/fix and managed IT support.


Interested in learning more about how partnering with a managed IT provider can assist with patching and much more? Visit our website for more information.


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